Monday, February 28, 2005

Beer, Shopping and Les Miserables

28 February 2005

Started off the morning by sleeping in. The bed was terrible; I’ve slept in better cots in Iraq than the beds at the Royal Horseguards. Missed the breakfast hour, and by the time I got out and about into Piccadilly Circus, it was already 1130am. Decided to stop for a small something at TGIF’s and also to see if any of the crew were still there from our trip this summer.

Of course some of them were and as soon as I pulled up a stool at the bar, I was consuming the breakfast of champions – an MGD. Hadn’t had one of those in some time and it was cold and went down smooth. Ordered an appetizer and after another beer was ready to face the shopping and securing a ticket for the show tonight.

Regent Street is “THE” place to shop here in London. But I also had to stop at Lillywhites and get myself a soccer shirt from my namesake who happens to play for Chelsea whose sponsor is Emirates Airlines. William Gallas is #13 and is pretty well known in these parts. Funny, for some reason, I’ve not had to spell my name for anyone since I’ve been here.

Ran back to the hotel to get cleaned up so that I’d have time for dinner prior to the show. Also wanted to stop for a couple of beers before the show. I had decided I was going to get sushi at this little place on Waterloo Street, but when I got there, they didn’t open till 1800. Bummer! Gave up on that idea.

As I walked down to the corner of Waterloo and Jermyn, I came to this nice looking little Lebanese place called Noura. Their menu looked good and since they’ve closed down the highway to the airport (back at Camp Victory in Iraq) and any subsequent visits to the restaurant there, I’ve really had a taste for shawarma and hommus. I ended up ordering the mixed plate which was mixed lamb and chicken shawarma and also included hommus. I was in heaven. If you’re in the area there in London, I would highly recommend the restaurant. It’s not but a block off Piccadilly Circus.

Caught a couple of beers on the bartender at TGIF’s, Jesse. I told him that I was the one working in Iraq and should be buying, but he insisted on buying and bought me a couple of rounds. Also did a good shot of Jaegermeister for our health! Then quickly onto the Queens Theater to go see Les Miserables.

Damned if I didn’t get lost and miss the first ten minutes. DOH! I didn’t miss too much, but was a bit unhappy with myself. The show was a three hour show if I had seen it all, but I only missed a small bit. At first I wasn’t all that impressed with it. I was comparing it to Mamma Mia, which is a comedy from start to finish. Putting things into perspective, Les Mis is somewhat based off of real life characters and situations as they went on in France.

After sleeping on it overnight, I began to appreciate the genius of the whole show. I found that I loved the characters that played Eponine’s parents. They were wretched and crooked and wicked and hysterical. Their antics really lit up the stage and provided the comic relief to an otherwise very serious love/war story. I also appreciated the actress that played Eponine. She was really quite talented and beautiful and had the voice of an angel. Maybe I just felt sorry for her character and also wanted her to be happy in the end as well. I am, after all, the ultimate bleeding heart! But I don’t want to give away the story if you’ve never seen it or read it. You can also read about it on the New York Times pages in the theater section at www.nytimes.com . Go to Theater, then London shows and you will find Les Miserables listed and reviewed along with a synopsis of the show.

Stopped by TGIF for a nightcap afterwards and ended up speaking to this nice young couple at the bar. He was Welsh and I think she was from the London area. She was learning how to drink Martinis, but wasn’t learning very well. I think they are a developed taste, nurtured by years of bitter, backbiting coworkers and the difficulties of years of workplace gossip and such! I did learn to eat green olives this trip, so maybe I can actually choke down a dirty martini now.
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