Tag Archives: The Globe Theatre


23 Aug

Photo by Best DSC!

Spud has complained that I have posted nothing but jokes this week.  Since I prefer to be the nagger rather than the naggee, here I am.

I’m still not well so all I can manage is to share something which made me smile this week.  You remember how the Globe sent me an autographed programme?

On Tuesday, they sent me another!   I adore the Globe theatre and all who sail in her.

I’m pleased that when I die, the boys will each get an autographed copy.  Feeling like I do, that won’t be long now…

Photo by Best DSC!


London Day 2: Lunch Bunch

17 Aug

A quick summary for those people visiting from Six Word Saturday who wonder what’s going on:

Birthday Treat – London! – I’m Giddy – We’refourpostsin

Okay, I may have cheated slightly there but, seriously, folks: who can describe the wonder that is London in only six words?


We finished looking at the Globe’s exhibition around 11:30 and headed up to the café for some lunch but it was all posh, inedible stuff (my sole complaint).  We decided to venture out for real food but passed the groundling queue…where two people were already queueing. That was it – we were not prepared to risk missing a good spot so we joined them.

The couple were sitting on the pavement, reading.  Spud and I sat on the pavement, quiet for a while, enjoying the novelty of numb bottoms on grubby streets (we might not eat posh but we are usually clean), watching the world go by (London is busy).  Spud, on my left side, was surprised to hear me sneeze and then say, ‘Bless you.  Thank you’ to myself.  He hadn’t realised the ‘Bless you’ came from the young woman sat on my right side.  That gave us all a laugh and broke the ice.DSCN1856

Our conversation was interrupted by lunch: Young Woman’s partner wandered off for a while and came back with pizzas; I thought that was a good idea and pulled out the exhausted credit card.  Pizza Express was just up the road.  The service was very good; the friendly staff included the genuine Italian manager who, in answer to my query, told me that the toilet was ‘upstairs; second bridge to the right.’  There was nothing wrong with his English, if that’s what you’re thinking; the upstairs was designed so diners could look down onto those eating below.

DSCN1852The pizza, alas; was dreadful: all tomato; no cheese.  It was fun to eat on the street, though I wouldn’t like it to become a habit (which could have become all too real a possibility if the Hub’s credit card and I had stayed in London for another couple of days).

The wait passed quite quickly.  It rained heavily for as much as thirty seconds.  By the time we had our raincoats on, it had stopped – and stayed away.

There were constant queries from passers-by about which end of the queue was the beginning.  It was confusing if you were new because the queue is between the steps to the outer yard and the exhibition centre.  DSCN1858

An American woman with three children stopped to ask if it was worth going to the play.  I told her, ‘Absolutely!  It’s great,’ despite not yet having seen this particular play, because I knew it absolutely would be great.  We explained the price of £5 for a yard ticket – there is no cheaper theatre ticket in London, according to our guide; and probably anywhere in Britain, according to me.  The woman and her children discussed the idea before heading off.  I heard her exclaim, ‘ere she walked out of sight, ‘We might as well try it; she says it’s great and she’s got a British accent.’

We all had a good laugh at that, and then I returned to my conversation with the Young Woman.  Something about London made me unashamedly nosy: ‘If you don’t mind me asking,” I said, “what do you do?’

‘I’m a writer.’

Why The Globe Is The Best Theatre In The World

13 Aug
Shakespeare's Globe, London (rebuilt 1997)

Shakespeare’s Globe, London (rebuilt 1997) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We interrupt our scheduled post to bring you this breaking news:

The Globe rocks.

Before we went to London, the Hub phoned the Globe on the QT and asked them, as it was my fiftieth birthday treat, if they would arrange for the cast to sign my pre-paid-for Macbeth programme.

The Globe said it would see what it could do.

I used my voucher to collect my programme in the shop instead of the box office, not knowing about the Hub’s request.

The Hub asked me about my programme when I got home: cue sadness all round when the plot was discovered to have gone awry.

The Globe, being the Best Theatre In The World, wasn’t having that and, without a word from us, popped the programme in the post.  It arrived this morning.

The Globe really does rock.  And so does the Hub.

Click on the photos to see close ups.

A History Lesson

29 Sep
The Palace of Westminster at night as seen fro...

Image via Wikipedia


Now that we have a new leader of the Labour Party, the time seems right to tell you about the adventures of a future leader of the Conservative Party (sorry, dear deceased Labourite Granddads). Tory Boy came back from his two weeks in Westminster declaring that it was the best fortnight of his life. Highlights appear to have been: access to a huge bedroom for the first time in two years (his guest room; not anyone else’s); an excellent transport system (45 minutes from Wimbledon to Westminster via bus, train & two tubes); and the Pope’s back.   


We’ll dispense with the Pope first (no jokes, please; respect the fact that my Nan was a Catholic and always displayed a photograph of the latest one in her home). TB sent us a text to say he was standing right behind the Popemobile and could see His Holiness’s back. It was an historic first Papal State visit to Britain, so I suppose it was worth a text. Tory Boy had a pass which enabled him to get close enough to see the arrival at Westminster Hall. I don’t begrudge him his little witness of history, even if he is an atheist.   

TB tells me that Westminster is like Hogwarts: corridors go off in all directions and people disappear down them and are never heard of again. He worked in the old Scotland Yard building.  He was given a tour of the Commons and the Lords and he says they were beautiful but small. He found the Queen’s throne ‘stunning’ and was surprised to learn that it stayed there permanently; I don’t know why he was surprised: someone would notice if you turned up at the front door with a moving van.  I hope.  The Speaker’s Chair was a gift from New Zealand. The doors behind the Speaker were donated by India. Much more of this and we’ll be hearing next that the Queen’s Speech is brought to you by the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis: Come stay with us; we’ll move a mountain to give you the earth.   


The four patron saints of the UK are depicted on stained glass windows in the lobby. Legend has it that St George leads to the Lords, because every Englishman aspires to be a Lord; St David leads to the Commons, because the Welsh yabber on; St Andrew leads to the bars, because the Scots like to drink; and St Patrick leads to the exit, because every Irishman wants out of England. It’s heartening to know that racial stereotypes are alive and well in our nation’s seat of government.   

Tory Boy told us that, contrary to popular belief, St Stephen’s Chapel is not a chapel, but a hall. Thanks for clearing that up, son. There is a myth that the section of floor tile that doesn’t match is the spot where Percival Spencer was assassinated. Coughing noises and blank looks elicited the information that PS was the only British Prime Minister to be assassinated. File:Assassination of Spencer Perceval.jpgThat was news to me: I’d never heard of him, or even that we lost one.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I Googled his name for an image, I discovered that I hadn’t been paying attention and it was, in fact, Spencer Perceval.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I could probably name more American presidents than British Prime Ministers – though I can name every monarch in reverse order, going back to Henry VII. (If you want to read a funny story about the Queen, go to this).   

Tory Boy spent most of his time doing research but couldn’t say into what; he did other things as well, but couldn’t say what they were, either. If it’s a matter of confidentiality, they’ve got the right boy: this is a child who, from the age of seven, when I collected him from school and asked him about his day, preferred to tell me that he ‘couldn’t remember’ than share even the tiniest piece of his life with me. He did tell us (we’re back in 2010) that he did case work, dealing with his particular MP’s constituents’ problems but, of course, he couldn’t tell us what they were…I can see having a son at the heart of government is going to be as much use to me as a bottle of bleach in a dirty kitchen.   

The days were as long as he wanted them to be, and some were longer than others; but he did make time to visit the Globe at the weekend, as I have previously mentioned. By the way, his comment that ”Falstaff gave me an apple” was as accurate as an MP’s expense claim: what really happened was that a number of apples rolled off Bardolph’s head and off the stage; one made its way into Tory Boy’s pocket, via his grabbing hand. The boy was born to be a politician.   


He fulfilled a lifetime ambition to re-create a scene from Bedknobs and Broomsticks: he walked down Portobello Road. He bought a couple of books from a charity shop. Before you get to thinking that TB needs to get a life, he also went to the opening of a think tank and to a wine tasting.   

He was taken to the wine tasting by his kind host, who works in that field.  Check out his blog.  It was held in the Vintners’ Hall, one of the oldest buildings in London; and the first to be reconstructed after the fire of 1666. TB said the building was fabulous, with Thirteenth Century tapestries hanging on the walls and even an Eighteenth Century Samurai sword (which seems an odd thing to leave lying around for a bunch of winos to get their hands on). Every Mayor of London leaves a gift in the Court Room; gifts date back to the 1700s.    


Tory Boy knows all this because he was given a tour. Tours are not given to the public in the Vintners’ Hall but Tory Boy decided to just ask someone who worked there; and that kind person obliged. Perhaps it was all the wine floating around.  Talking of which, TB’s host gave him a crash course in wine tasting and the first thing Tory Boy did was spy out every bottle of wine costing more than £30 and taste only those. My son will go far in politics; I just know it.    

Perhaps it was the wine; perhaps it was the double Pusser’s Rum at work; perhaps it was the excitement; perhaps it was the hard work; but his sleep issues disappeared overnight. He was in bed by nine most nights and asleep soon after.    

Remember when I told you he was going to Westminster and I said he was running the country? I may have exaggerated, but only a little. His MP was promoted on Tory Boy’s last day: clearly, TB is a man of influence. It’s nothing to do with us, of course; but his hosts, who were wonderful to him, and with whom he hopes to stay in touch. He couldn’t stop praising them. I bet he told them what he did at school when he was seven.    






Things I Wish I Hadn’t Done

12 Sep


  • Bashed my son’s alarm clock in an effort to turn off my own I was sleeping in his bed while he’s away – no, I’m not that obsessive a mother; I was giving the Hub the whole of our bed because he’s not sleeping well at the moment due to painful legs – and my alarm went off and I thought it was his and I picked it up, shook it up, threw it across the room and screamed at it.  It was only when it was lying shattered in pieces on the floor yet still beepbeepbeeping that I realised my mistake.  Now I have to leave the country before he gets home from t’big city.
  • Assumed I was a whizz in the kitchen.  Clearing out my larder in preparation for the kitchen refurb, I found all sorts of expired and almost-expired foodstuffs: 2000 peaches, anyone?  Um, I mean peaches from 2000, anyone?  I used all the tins and packets that weren’t solidified or blown and came up with a delightful array of inedible puddings, including peaches on a soggy yet stale biscuit base and Angel Delight a la biscuit crunch which looked like the dogs had an allergic reaction to tuna and tasted even worse.
  • Answered the phone to Tory Boy today.  I am racked with jealousy because he was calling from the Millennium Bridge, which I am dying to walk across; and he was on his way to the Globe Theatre to stand as a groundling and see Henry IV Part One.  Notfairnotfairnotfairstampsfeet.
  • Left my poo on my friend’s doorstep (I think anyone would regret that).  I walked the dogs up on Friday and they pooped after the bin instead of before so I left it on the step while I visited her and forgot to pick it up on the way out.  Truly a faux pas amongst faux pas.  That’s one less Christmas card I’ll be receiving this year.

That was my week; how was yours?

Pigeons Everywhere!

28 May

I can’t believe the week I’m having; the good news just keeps on coming: I have a job interview next Thursday.  Better than that – it’s with my beloved Open University.

A little background history for my newer conscripts: I did a part-time degree with the Open University, from 2003 to 2008.  It was part-time only in the sense that I worked for it at home.  I attended tutorials and day schools and two glorious summer schools – the first one in Manchester, where I made some great friends who have stayed in touch to this day; and one in London, where I got to visit – I still get all wobbly when I think about it – Shakespeare’s Globe. 

One thing in particular that I learned at summer school is that it is not actually required to venerate the Bard: he had duff moments, and it’s okay to say so.  Mind you, I think I am one of the Few: one retired man in my summer school tutor group happened to mention that he thought Shakespeare was very much a commercial playwright but not necessarily an intellectual genius.  A roomful of students rose as one in outrage and there was almost a lynching in a third floor classroom of Queen Mary University.  While someone went in search of a rope, I had to admit that, though I didn’t completely agree with him, I thought he had a point.  Luckily for me, the heretic was at one side of the class and I was at the other, so the body of Outrageds between us didn’t hear me and string me up as an accomplice.  Our tutor that day acknowledged the ‘commercial playwright’ point (Shakespeare retired a rich man); but on the ‘not an intellectual genius’ point she looked as if she’d found a slug in her cereal.  Mr Foolhardy of Takinyurlifeinyurhands, brave man, was completely unabashed and even had the temerity to keep attending the lectures.

On the day of our visit I woke up feeling queasy, so I had cereal and fruit instead of my usual cooked breakfast (it’s not that easy to get a figure like mine, you know; I have to work at every sausage, bacon, beans, egg, toast, hash brown and pineapple breakfast to maintain it) because I was determined that nothing was keeping me from going to the Globe that day.  We had tutorials in the morning but finished early for lunch.  We were provided with a packed dinner of cardboard sandwich tasting of the plastic it came in (I hate those things, they are vile), a large packet of crisps (ready salted, so everyone could eat them – unless you suffer hypertension, of course), a Granny Smith apple (euggcchh), and a bottle of water.

We then had a lecture on Shakespeare and the London Stage, which was interesting, before dashing for the coaches.  To be fair, I was the only one dashing; I could have given Linford Christie a run for his money (I was going to make a joke about lunchboxes there but it came out too rude): I was so desperate not to be left behind that I abandoned all the friends I had made that week, and dived head-first into an empty bus seat, strapping myself in before the rest of my tutor group had even left the classroom.  I hope I never take part in a flood here in Stockport because my poor family will clearly be on their own as far as I’m concerned.

The journey cut through London and took about twenty minutes.  We passed half of the Monopoly board, and the Tower of London.  There was a pub across the road from it called The Hung, Drawn, and Quartered.  What a great name!  When we arrived, I was amazed to see that not only was the Globe not round or anything like all of the pictures I have seen, but it was also right on the Thames (well, not right on, obviously, because it would sink; but on the riverside).  The river was brown and yukky and it was horrible to think that I once swam in it as a child.  The Globe looked like an ordinary city building and I can’t tell you how crushed I felt, but I was puzzled by the pictures and models of a twenty-sided ‘O’ that were everywhere on display.  However, I was soon distracted by being herded into a lecture theatre with everyone else.  We were privileged to be given a hilarious lecture on the Globe by Patrick Spottiswoode, the Director of Education at the Globe.  When Sam Wanamaker (the American actor and father of Zoe Wanamaker, who plays Susan in My Family) envisioned its rebuilding, he insisted that it be a place of education as well as entertainment, and it had to be accessible to all, which is why there are 700 tickets at £5 each available for every performance.  If you ever find yourself in London, you should go.

After the lecture, Patrick conducted an interview with the American director of Othello (the play we saw), Wilson Milam.  He once directed an episode of the old Dr Who series.  He was as tall and lanky as they come, and, coupled with his laconic speech and in contrast to the energy of Patrick Spottiswoode, my abiding memory is of a large paper man draped over an uncomfortable chair.  Finally, we were split into three groups and carted off to different rooms, and an actor led us in a very physical session exploring Shakespeare’s language.  Our actor was Yolanda Vasquez (who has appeared in Holby City, for those of you who watch it) and she was excellent.

Once that session was up, we had a break until the evening performance.  Unfortunately, no-one had actually said so to us, and consequently there were 150 supposedly intelligent mature students milling around in rising panic and lowing, ‘What do we do?  Where do we go?  Is it a break?  Can we leave the theatre?’  I’m convinced it was the result of the sheep mindset that sets in when you are given a timetable that tells you when to study, when to eat, when to drink tea, and when to listen.  As nobody came to tell us what to do, we eventually figured out for ourselves that we were free for ninety minutes, and many of us made our way to the gift shop.  I had intended to buy souvenirs for everyone but it was so expensive that I came away with only two 50pence bookmarks for the boys and a pencil topper of Shakespeare’s head for me.  DVDs that I had bought in the pound shop in Stockport were going for £19.99 each at the Globe.  After the bookmarks and pencil toppers, the next lowest price of anything was a fiver, and there wasn’t much stuff available even at that price.  I understand that the Globe gets no government funding and has to be self-supporting, but they really could have done with a few lower-priced items for hard-up visitors like me; they’d sell way more stuff.

However, coming out of the gift shop, which is upstairs, my disappointment disappeared, because there in front of me through large windows was the wooden O.  Idiot that I am, it never occurred to me that the theatre would stand separately from the box office and educational and shop and everyday business part of the Globe.   And once we went back out through the front entrance and round the side, it was clearly visible from the street.  In fact, I and those of my friends who had caught up with me, had our packed dinner sitting on the steps next to the Thames and gazing up in adoration at the Globe (actually, I think that last part might just have been me).  To be honest, I was so excited I could barely eat (yes, you did read that last sentence correctly), so it didn’t matter that my sandwich was inedible. 

While sitting there not eating, two smartly-dressed women and a ditto man gave us some money and asked us to give it back to them.  They were on a treasure hunt of sorts, and had to be videoed doing all manner of strange things around London, including singing on the street to passersby and being given money for it.  They hadn’t had much luck, so decided to cheat, which is where I came in.

After not eating and pretend-paying total strangers to sing, we went through the wrought iron gate entrance to the courtyard, where we were able to rent a seat back and two cushions for £4.  The seating is all benches and not very comfortable, apparently.  I can’t say I noticed. 

On the way to the loo round the back, I stopped to chat to a fellow student.  I say ‘chat,’ but it was more of a high-pitched gabble on my part, because I was in a frenzy of anticipation by now.  Fellow Student was standing with some people who turned out to be BBC crew, filming for The One Show.  The presenter, Adrian Chiles, is from Birmingham, and the following Friday was something like ‘Be Nice to People With Brummie Accents Day,’ so they were asking visitors to the Globe to quote Shakespeare in Birmingham accents (Shakespeare was from that general area, so he’d have had that sort of accent).  I tried to decline but they wouldn’t believe that I am rubbish at accents, so they filmed me in a state of total giddiness, not speaking Brummie.  I kept telling them they were wasting their film, but they asked me to say ‘My name is Adrian Chiles from The One Show on BBC1,’ or something like that, so I gave it a go.  I couldn’t get past ‘My name is…’  It was like my mouth wouldn’t work, but I eventually burst out in a cockney accent, ‘My name is Michael Caine!’  Don’t ask me where that came from.  I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be appearing on telly that Friday night after that performance, and I was right; but I obviously gave the BBC crew a good time, because they were shaking with laughter by the time I was done.

And then it was time to take my seat.  The OU must have bought whatever seats were available, because we were spread all over the theatre.  I was in a £26 seat on the middle tier; some students were in £19 seats up at the top at the back.  Some people were in the most expensive seats on the bottom tier.  I’m not complaining, because I had a fantastic view.  My seat number was A1, so I was at the front of the box looking down onto the stage.  I believe the view is excellent wherever you are, though.  The play was wonderful.  Othello is a tragedy (no offence intended to those of you who knew that) but the way it was played there were lots of laughs in it.  Tim McInnerny (Lord Percy and Captain Darling in Blackadder) played Iago, and he was good.

Apologies in advance for the scary woman in this next photo:

The £5 tickets are for a place with the groundlings, who stand throughout the performance.  There are no allocated places; it’s a free for all, and it was interesting to see them milling about throughout the performance.  The cast often made their entrance through the audience, and addressed us directly during soliloquies, so that the audience is part of the whole experience.  In the interval I went down to the ground floor to take photos, and there were lots of empty spaces because people were taking comfort breaks, so I watched the second half as a groundling, leaning on the stage and looking up at the actors.  It was fabulous.  There were some disgruntled teenagers next to me, who had to squash up to fit in the friend whose space I had pinched (I assume), but I didn’t feel guilty because they talked and texted all the way through the performance, and didn’t seem too keen to be there.  Tim McInnerny gave them a dirty look at one point, but a look from Lord Percy wouldn’t bother this generation of teenagers, would it?

The Globe is an open-air theatre, and we were incredibly fortunate because it had rained or been cloudy all week, but on that Wednesday afternoon the sun came out and stayed out, so we were able not only to eat on the pavement but to enjoy the play without discomfort.  All in all, it is in my top five life experiences.  And I speak as a woman who knows the value of a Malteser.


Today is Big Tent poetry prompt day; the prompt is ‘aphrodisiac’.  I post my senryu with an apology to the Hub, who it is NOT about.  My inspiration came from my moaning friends (who won’t be my friends much longer if they find out what I have just called them):

The Housewife’s Aphrodisiac

You want me trembling
with desire for you? Offer
to wash the dishes.


Reminiscing about summer school reminded me of this senryu I wrote way back; it is almost verbatim the instructions found in the student information booklet:

From the University Book of the Bleedin’ Obvious

Action in case of
fire: on discovering a
fire: please shout FIRE

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