Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Royal Opera House, Covent Garden
Another night, another opera. My name is Annette, and I am an opera-holic. This evening I went with Kyle, Andrew and Rachel to ‘Don Pasquale’ (Donizetti) at the glorious Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, one of the great Houses of the world. We were treated to some amazing singing, especially from the tenor (Barry Banks) who not only had a lovely voice but was also extremely funny. ‘Don Pasquale’ is ‘opera buffa’ – it’s meant to be comic – and involves bad uncles and good nephews, double-crossing, changes of identity and misunderstandings. The usual.

Today I was crazy-busy again, and was almost late for the performance. I left my front door at 7 pm for a 7.30 curtain. Can you believe I made it to my friends in the foyer by 7.15? And I took the Tube, Kings Cross to Covent Garden. I came out of the door of the apartment building and considered my options. Should I jump in a black cab, since I was running late? Answer: no. London at that hour is a huge heaving mass of people, heading home and heading out. The traffic is literally at a standstill – you can walk faster than the cars and buses can move. But the Tube is also packed to the gills.

Undaunted, I scooted downstairs to the tunnels of the Tube – Piccadilly Line to Covent Garden, only two stops – and slotted myself into the slipstream of the crowd. Once you are inside that massive river of people, you will go somewhere – there is no alternative other than to move along with them. Down the tunnels we surged, down the long escalators, onto a train that was just there, off the train, into a huge lift and out of it, and – hey presto – there was the Opera House. This assumes that the invisible ‘system’ is operating smoothly, of course; but a disembodied voice assured us that “London Underground is running a good service on all lines”.

Coming home was, if anything, even more crowded. Not only the opera crowd, but everyone pouring out of the West End shows, clutching their programs from ‘Mama Mia’ or ‘The Lion King’. I haven’t been taking much notice of any shows other than opera, but of course there are dozens and dozens of options: ‘Jersey Boys’, ‘Priscilla – The Musical’, ‘Stomp’, ‘Avenue Q’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Phantom of the Opera, ‘Sister Act’. And plays:  286 listed on one site!
You can still see Agatha Christie’s ‘The Mousetrap’, which has been running since the 1950s. And all the Shakespeare. It’s a good thing I’m planning to stay here for a while.

In a productive day, I managed to bring the last of my belongings from Earlsfield, go shopping, get to my training session at the gym, visit Birkbeck’s Help Desk (which I seem to have seen a lot of), and of course go to the opera. *whew*

Re the shopping: I took the Tube to Oxford Circus and shopped at a department store called John Lewis. In only one hour I purchased a number of necessities: a computer printer, a decent doona, a small desk, desk chair and a couple of bookcases, and some rather lovely sheets. The most expensive item was the sheets. All these things will be delivered by the John Lewis people, and the nice concierge downstairs will take delivery. Isn’t that efficient? When I first arrived in London, Carrollanne said to me: ‘And where will shop for your apartment? Will you just go to John Lewis like the rest of us?’ It seems so.

At the gym, Dan the trainer was in chatty mood, telling me about his career as a dancer, his new house in East London, which he hopes to turn into a teaching space, his course in osteopathy. ‘You need to have a five year plan’, saith Dan. I like being around positive types.

I received my first mail at the apartment, most of which was tedious. There was a circular with instructions for evacuation in case of fire. Our assembly point is The British Library – which is across the road. That's nice.

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