England, 1981, Part 11

London, Saturday, 3/28/81

We slept late and then came downstairs to have breakfast and join the conversation with the milkman, an interesting Saturday morning ritual. We had in mind to shop for souvenirs and a few presents, and decided to try Covent Garden.

On the way there we stopped at Leicester Square, and picked up tickets to the late-matinee performance of “Tomfoolery”, a musical review of the songs of Tom Lehrer. We walked over to Covent Garden, where there is a crafts fair on Saturdays. We walked through the main building, which is a lot like Quincy Market in Boston, with a lot of small shops, but we didn’t see anything we liked. We had lunch at a restaurant adjoining the Garden, and then walked through an area of stalls next to the main building. We didn’t see anything that looked interesting, so we walked back toward the theater district, stopping in a couple of shops along the way, but the day was a failure from the shopping point of view.

We did enjoy the show, which was quite funny, but we were really running out of steam at this point, and returned to Swiss Cottage to relax and take it easy.

London, Sunday, 3/29/81

Our last full day in London. It was a damp, drizzly day, and there is not a lot to do on Sundays anyway, so we went to Madame Tussaud’s and The Planetarium, which are part of a single complex. We got combined tickets to both places, and started with the Planetarium. As you enter on the ground floor you pass through statues, models, etc. dealing with space and the scientists throughout history who have expanded our knowledge of space. Then in the upper floor you enter the planetarium proper. We took our seats and enjoyed a show of the solar system and other astronomical objects.

We then entered Madame Tussaud’s, a multi-story building with exhibits of wax models of many people, divided into theme rooms, with historical characters, current entertainers, the various kings and queens of England, including the present Royal family, and of course the Chamber of Horrors, with its ax-murderers, poisoners, etc. One of the best exhibits was based on the TV series “Doctor Who”.

The museum is located on the corner of Baker Street and Marylebone, so after the museum we took a moment to look up 221 Baker Street. The residence is now a savings bank (which they call a “Building Society”). But I have heard that they have arranged with a member of the Sherlock Holmes Society to answer the correspondence they recieve addressed to the Great Detective. We then walked down Baker Street to Oxford Street, which is one of the main shopping areas in London, to do some window shopping and perhaps find some of those gifts and souvenirs we failed to locate yesterday. We were hoping to find something like a souvenir plate with the coat of arms and while we didn’t see what we wanted in any of the windows, we did locate some stores that looked like good bets. As the afternoon wore on we got tired and returned home to have dinner and pack our bags. After dinner we saw “That’s Life” for the last time. We are going to miss that show.

London, Monday, 3/20/81

We got an early start and returned to Oxford Street to try those stores we saw yesterday. Unfortunately, most of the plates they had to offer were dreadfully tasteless. I may be alone, but pictures of Prince Charles and Lady Diana are not the sort of thing I want to remember England by. The few we saw that were good were far too expensive, so we gave up on that idea. We finally settled on some woolen blankets. and then headed back to Swiss Cottage. We got back at 12:00, and Tom was waiting to take us to the airport.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 2:00, and did leave fairly promptly. Due to the time changes, trade winds, etc. we landed in Boston around 3:30. As we were taxiing down the runway, our pilot came on the intercom to inform us that President Reagan had been shot a few minutes before. It was definitely one of the stranger homecomings we’ve had. But our luggage came through without a problem, we went through Customs quickly, and by 5:30 we were sitting in our apartment.

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