Day Five: In which things ends up working fine, despite me
While reading this account, remember that it was probably in the 50’s or so and raining all day long.
Today, I realize shortly after walking out the front door, is going to suck. Not only is it cold and raining, but my sneakers, which have excellent arch support and padding, which are nicely broken in but not worn out, are also athletic shoes, and designed to breathe. Which means something I forgot when I chose to bring them: the top of the toe is a lovely kind of netting that lets perspiration out . . . and rain in.
I’ve got water in my shoes before I’ve gone a hundred yards.
And it gets worse, thanks to my own stupidity. I could have bought my ticket for Othello while killing time Thursday morning, save I had it fixed in my head that I would get it after I was done in the archives — but I finished up there with barely enough time to get to the Tower. So, trusting in my previous experience (my mother and I got seats the day of the performance when we were here before), I figured I could pick one up this morning.
But my mother and I went on a weekday, not the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend.
I get to the Globe at 10 a.m. and discover Othello is sold out — and the theatre is dark tomorrow.
And I can’t go to the evening performance, whatever it may be, as I am slated to have dinner with kniedzw‘s cousin and her family.
So my day is shot, and I am pissed.
And then I am saved, by great good luck and the providence of a stranger.
See, the guy at the ticket booth tells me to come back at noon, in hopes of picking up a returned ticket. I kill some time at the Clink Prison Museum (mildly interesting, but not that great), then come back at twelve sharp. He says to try in half an hour. I loiter on the far side of the lobby for a while, trying to distract myself from my self-castigation by working on Midnight Never Come. Around the appointed time I move up to loiter closer to the desk; there’s a woman I’ve been keeping an eye on, and I’m 99% certain she’s there for the same reason I am. Since I haven’t been told how they’ll process us, I figure I should be nearby. And lo, as I take off my headphones, I hear her ask a newcomer if she’s there to return a ticket — and the newcomer says yes.
How many? asks Competitor Woman.
I hold my breath.
One, says Ticket-Selling Woman.
I am ready to mug CW to get that ticket. I only need one, and it’s rapidly obvious she needs more than that . . . but one would get her a step closer to where she wants to be. I will use any dirty tricks necessary — sob stories, pitiful looks, a knife in the ribs — but they aren’t really needed; when I swoop in, CW grudgingly concedes that one ticket won’t do her much good. TSW is more than happy to accommodate me. I haven’t even asked what she’s selling; I might be a groundling for all I know, and slated to stand for three hours in the cold rain. “We’re in the Lower Gallery,” she says. “Is that good?”
Panic! I had assumed I would be buying a ticket at the box office, with a credit card. I don’t have thirty-two pounds with which to pay her. TSW agrees to wait while I bolt to a cash machine.
Outside the door, I notice a sign no one told me about. I don’t stop to get the exact wording, but it’s something in this vein: Queue here for ticket returns. I also don’t stop to count how many people are lined up behind it. I don’t want TSW to reconsider, or someone to notice that apparently I’m sniping. I get cash and come back to find TSW has decided to be nice and sell me the ticket for twenty-five, instead. I end up sitting next to her and her adult daughter, where said daughter’s husband ought to have been, and when I inquire whether he’s not well, she says “we’re not well with each other.” Ooch. Well, their marital difficulty is my gain.
Othello ensues, with the expected blood and guts. I’m in a fantastic position, one bay stage left of center, with an almost perfect view of the stage. I’m still freezing, but at least I’m not getting any wetter than I already am. (A sizeable number of groundlings desert at the intermission.)
Desdemona’s death reminds me inescapably of Stage Beauty. This is the fourth or fifth Othello I’ve seen; if any other Desdemonas kicked and struggled and fought to survive, I don’t remember it. But I don’t think I’ll ever see an Iago I’ll like as much as my first one. This one is good, but excessively angry, insufficiently sly.
Then off to dinner; Hyde Park is further than I’m going to walk in this rain. I get to meet a previously unknown set of my future in-laws. (Thank god they’d seen a picture of me; I had no idea what any of them looked like, a fact I realized far too late.)
Coming home, I get proof positive the cathedral has grown on me. Instead of coming out Blackfriars and going up St. Andrew’s Hill to Carter Lane, where the hostel is, I take New Bridge Street/Farringdon, so I can walk up Ludgate Hill, the way I have every night save the first one. This takes two or three times as long, in the cold rain that still hasn’t stopped. Sentimentality is the only explanation.
One day more. The last forecast I saw had Monday being a degree or two warmer than today, and possibly less rainy. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.