Monday, September 03, 2012

"FREE FUN IN LONDON" Challenge and the Bitch at the National Gallery.

So, the last notes have been sung...the piano is put away. Hermine Ginggold (my fancy dress) is in her travel bag. It was an amazing London weekend. Really! The show at the Tristan Bates was SOLD OUT! And the Longacre was fabulous and cabaret-ie and ALSO SOLD OUT!
30 shows. 4 venues. 3 countries. 
And NOW we (George, Cooch and Myself) move onto leg TWO of #GOLD! Thanks to Rob, Huw, Anjale and Simon. here in the UK! Team #GOLD rocks. ROCKS!
BUT that is not what THIS blog is about...not totally. 
This blog is EVENTUALLY about a bitch that we met at the National Portrait Gallery.
Yes, George, Cooch and I met at the Westminster Abbey today to do some very exhausted sight seeing. 
After we found out that is effing £16 to go thru a CHURCH!!! A CHURCH!!! AN abbey, people..WHATEVER! This seems wrong...there is a different line up for people paying cash and others paying by credit...two different queues...WESTMINSTERCRABBY! (STOLEN from The Simpsons)
Jesus Wept...and then tried to buy a ticket to my London shows...but they were he is now on buying for New York City in two weeks....
But I digress...we decided that our challenge, on this beautiful London day, would be to see the sights as cheaply as possible.

It looks like Ben has been photoshopped and that George photobombed.
And WHAT a challenge that is, my friends. I LOVE me some LONDON but this town is EXPENSIVE! (Last week George and I went to see the Dark Knight Rises and it cost $85...for a MOVIE!!! I just about plotzed.) SO, yes, it is a challenge...but a challenge that we are just tired enough to embark on and then get pissed off about at numerous junctures.
We started carefree and gay (used here with the old school meaning for all three of us...) as we marched thru one million foot traffic barriers in St. James Park because of the Paralympics. You see, George really wanted to walk down the Mall...that is pronounced Malle...rhyming with Gal or Pal...or GalPal if you wish...he wanted to walk down the Mall to Buckingham seems a small wish...and was a tall order, it turns out.
We got to the Mall and a young lady who was wearing a security parka (and was none too happy about it in the 29 degree heat, let me tell you WHAT!) and protecting said Mall from the likes of us, told us, very kindly and with great humour (though she looked terribly fucking overheated from wearing that Paralympic parka) that we couldn't walk on the Mall...we could walk back and forth across it a number of times, looking at the castle as we passed and then pretend we went the whole length...but that was the best she could offer at this time. I applauded her sense of humour and feel like I got some local stand up comedy for free. (NO$$$ Score!)
So, we turned back into the park and amused ourselves by making art on the instagram. (NO$$$ Score 2!)
Here are a couple of the works of art we came up with.
You are welcome in advance.

George got a topiary crown and I think I am on ANTM.

This is for our friend Mike Bickerton who is afraid of birds...showing that there is Danger EVERYWHERE. See the levels...Cooch in the front...the birds in the centre....George looming, surprisingly, in the are welcome.

Then we thought we might break the bank a BIT and go through Buckingham Palace.

Does she really need that money?
We decided to stick to our original plan.
We looked at the outside.
Imagined the inside (NO$$$ Score 3!)...which we already kinda saw during the opening ceremonies when Daniel Craig went and got the lady who is overcharging for tours of her home and he threw her out of a helicopter in a cocktail dress. Just saying.
Moved on.
We thought, "Hey! Maybe we can get on a bus and spend a bit of money and get the most bang for our buck!"
£26 for the tour bus...which, granted, the ticket lasts for 24 hours and there is a boat tour AND a walking tour...but it just seemed a bit too steep to really justify fitting it into our original challenge.
So, we grabbed a cab for 5 quid and got the driver to tell us a couple of anecdotes about driving during the Olympics. Lots of "throw up" stories. 
So, we got a ride to Trafalgar Square and some storytelling for £5. (Some$$$ but still SCORE 4!)
WE were now looking for inspiration...and it came in the form of the door to the NATIONAL PORTAIT GALLERY...yes, people, we are getting closer. 
We go into the cafe part and have a bit of expensive tea and a £3 scone (Cooch likes his with just the clotted cream, George likes his with butter and jam, Me with clotted cream and jam. Just FYI) but justify the expense because A: we are starving and B: The Gallery is FREE! (Sort of NO$$$ Score 5!)
I love the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh and this one is no different...well, it is different in that it is in London with different portraits... LOVES.
WE went up to the very top of the building and started with the Tudors...portraits of Henry VIII, Catherine of Aragon...and all the young ladies who lost their heads to Henry's lust for...well, for lots of stuff...and as we stood in front of portrait of a young monarch who didn't live to see his 11th birthday, I commented on how it was brutal to be royalty back then. You either died young of the dread diseases from being inbred or someone shoved you away in a tower and/or hung you or  maybe you were offed by some other person/people who wanted the throne. So, it was kind of shit, really, to be royal back in the day, no matter how awesome the pantaloons, the castles  and the cash were.
George and Cooch (and, of course, myself, who NEVER misses a chance to laugh at my own questionable jokes) shared a chuckle...I think theirs was a pity chuckle...but again, I digress...
Now, before I continue on, I didn't scream this was a quiet joke between the three of us...I am not a idiot...and you gotta had kind of shit odds of living long as a royal back then. 
AND this woman who was KINDA near us wings around and comes all up into our personal space, stares at us, right up in our grills for a couple of minutes,  and then asks us in an accent I can't quite place ...where we are from...with a VERY superior attitude. 
I feel that this will be a very special moment.
I say we are from Canada.
She says, "Ah, you are laughing at all of this because your country doesn't have any history. You don't understand (and here she indicates all of the portraits around the room) what it is like to have culture. You are new and so you have no understanding of these things."
George and I remain quiet...mostly stunned and then turn to each other...then I say, "We have a lot of history in Canada...we were actually part of this Dominion that it is clear that I have no idea what I am talking about really, but I am getting mad and feel that I need to say something smart-ish...then)...wait, why am I justifying myself to you?"
She says, "London is where all culture is all right here...everything is only have to walk a few blocks to see where all history don't understand." 
And she is NOW physically looking down her nose at us.
(May I add here that our dear friend, COOCH, has sidled away like a mouse from a stomping horse...probably wise...probably wise.)
I ask her, "Are you from London?"
She say, "Yes."
I say, "You know what? Someone who is elitist, who feels like they OWN the culture and history, and wishes to give the rest of the lovely people who  live in London a bad name would  say something like that...How small minded...ironically." Okay...I didn't say the small minded part and I wasn't even close to being eloquent...I was sputtering and spitting out words...please give me a pass...I have been trying to be funny everyday for over a month. It is taxing.
George, not ready to get too far into it on a name calling level simply says, "Actually, we were enjoying a private joke, because we have senses of humour. That is what we have in Canada. Which YOU clearly don't understand." 
She starts to talk about how much she loves Canada, WAY TOO LATE, and George is looking so far over her head he can see France (which is south, right?).
I just want her to disappear.
Which she finally does...after trying to back pedal for far too long. 
Go away, small woman.
What a bitch.
George said he wishes Auntie Pat was present...that woman would not have know her own name after chatting with Auntie Pat for a while. Sigh. 
WAIT! Imagining Auntie Pat taking that lady to task.
(NO$$$ SCORE 7!)
So, we walk around the building imagining what we should have said, what Auntie Pat would say...looking at beautiful portraits...and observing that the high waisted pant guys really needed dance belts...

NOT a good angle for me...but you get the idea....they look like they have bananas in their pants...they do...

I don't want to go on too much longer...but the three of us wandered around for hours...looking at the theatres, opera houses, Covent Garden, beautiful stores, gorgeous buildings...we laughed, talked and looked for free Wi-FI...Pret a Manger (NO$$$ Score 8!) and during these times we found...

The "Loo of the year".
They have awards for everything. I wonder how many stars it got and if it read like a 5 star. smelled overwhelmingly of pee, here.

(NO$$$ SCORE 9!)

AND, happily, we put the questionable pillow that Cooch slept on in Scotland back out into the be free...and bring joy to THAT is just priceless.
Am I wrong?
Am I?

Thanks for making us challenge ourselves London!
You are filled with awesome people, beautiful sights, lots of free fun...and one bitch of a woman who owns ALL the culture. 
Who knew?

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