Fancy Notes London special edition

I went to London to watch "The Master Builder": a play staring Patrick Stewart and attend a gathering of PSN (Patrick Stewart Network : his official fan club). This is a report on my six days trip alone in foreign country for the first time. There was not a lot of sight seeing, or gourmet's menu in that trip. But I was completely satisfied with it.
24th July 2003
Departure ~ Arriving at a hotel
The first meal in London...
25th July 2003
Strolling neighborhood
Barbican Theater
Watching a Turner collection at Tate Britain
It's emergency
Teriyaki dressing?
26 July 2003
The theater district like Asakusa-Rock!
Watching "The Master Builder"
Where is the hotel?
Backwater from a drain!
27 July 2003
Black pudding...and "carp"
The Gathering
Mr. Patrick Stewart!
28 July 2003
Trafalgar Square ~ Covent Garden
Fish & chips at British Museum
Comic book shop
Forbidden Planet
Charing Cross Road...A lot of book stores!
Japanese Sushi Selection
Papaya Suzuki on the English TV show
29 July 2003
Madame Tussaud's
Theater Museum and saying farewell to Albery Theater
Going home

After the trip


This is my room. There is a sliding door that leads to a bathroom on the left side. The door was fully covered with a mirror. The mirror was effective in having guests forgetting its narrowness. I nearly crashed against it several times.

The tea set for two. There were 4 sets each of instant coffee and tea bags, so I could drink them as enough as I want. Small packs that look like cream were milk! Not cream! I had never seen that milk had been served like that. It's very interesting.

24th July 2003

Departure Arriving at a hotel
I took nonstop flight from Narita airport to London departed at 11:40 a.m.. I was surprised that in-flight meals were plenty. I was satisfied with it. But two Japanese noisy drunks in a front row of my seat interrupted my sleep. I heard that alcohol have stronger efficacy in the sky than on the ground. I suppose drinkers should be careful even if they have never gotten drunk on the ground. I'm nondrinker, and I had orange juice, water, tea, coffee, etc. It was a necessary service in flight because the air in the plane was very dry.

Our plane arrived at Heathrow airport at the same day's 3:55 p.m. on time, though we spent 12 hours on flight. It was a funny feeling! A bus that our travel agency arranged picked us up at the airport and drove us to our hotel (Kensington Close).In point of its size and interior design, my room had no particular differences from Japanese business hotel. If I must find some differences, there were no slippers, nightclothes, and toothbrush. But they provided a trouser press, a hair dryer, and a safe. I had been told there had been not a safe in a room, so it was a grateful surprise.
There were an electric pot and two sets of cup and saucer. Tea bags and instant coffee were refilled every day, so I could drink them as much as I want. And it have saved a little money.... maybe. Towels were also set for two. The extra one was very helpful to dry washed clothes.

The first meal in London...
I didn't feel any jet lag, but I lay down on a bed. Because preparation for the trip was very confusing and exhausting. The bed was big and comfortable... oh, I was careless! It was already 8 o'clock! I remembered it keeps light like the daytime until about 9 o'clock in London! I rushed out for buying a dinner. I had heard there was Marks&Spencer in neighborhood, so I went there. But they had already closed at 8. This supermarket had been mentioned in Mr. Masaaki Oosugi's book "British English is very interesting" (Mr. Oosugi is a very popular coach in a English conversation radio program in Japan. And I'm a fan of him. That book was written based on his experience in England.) , and I love browsing local supermarkets. So I really wanted to see there. What a shame! It was still as light as 5 o'clock in my town's summer. I was confused with that feeling. There was no convenience store or vending machine! It was very inconvenient for me. I was too exhausted to try restaurants. So I preferred some takeout. Then the only shop I could get something to eat was...McDonald's! Unbelievable! Who could expect the first meal in London would be McDonald's hamburger? ...OK, I will welcome any unexpected experiences during the trip. Let's go to McDonald's! Before this trip, I had taken some trial lessons of English conversation school for accustoming to native English speakers. (I'm sorry, I took only "free" trial lessons and quit.) And I heard "In America, they don't understand a Japanese pronunciation of "cheese burger". I decided to try it. The McDonald's girl seemed to have felt funny, because I stressed "R" sounds unnaturally. But it worked! I succeeded in getting what I wanted! I felt myself to be very proud as if I had defeated a tough guy. (Of course, I never have done such a thing!) Just for reference for Japanese readers, in English, "McDonald's" is pronounced like "macuda-naruzu". And in UK, "takeout" is called "takeaway". It's very confusing!


Shakespeare Tower at Barbican Theater.
I encountered the old couple near there.

Tate Britain

25th July 2003
Rainy, clear up in the evening

I had a late breakfast at around 9 o'clock. It was served in smorgasbord style. I read on the handout that the travel agency provided it's a English breakfast. But its menu was almost the same as the one called western breakfast in Japanese hotel. Please imagine the one that removed salads from it, and added some cereals to it. There was no English local food like baked tomato. I wondered what was the difference between English breakfast and American one. But I was glad because I had expected the hotel's breakfast should be a continental one (only bread and coffee). I had them enough. I succeeded in having a word with a waiter who came over for asking me whether I have coffee or tea... in English! (Can I say, "having a word"? I just asked him for tea!) I felt very good.

Strolling neighborhood
After breakfast, I felt a little tired. So I stretched out on a bed while I was reading guidebooks until around eleven o'clock. A room's key was card-key. It was useful because I didn't have to go to reception every day. Then I started on my exploration at last. First of all, I wanted to look around neighborhood. I dropped in at Boots (A drug store chain. they provide some food and drink too.), Then went to Marks & Spencer for yesterday's revenge. The supermarket was connected with the entrance of High Street Kensington station of The Tube. (This station was the nearest one to my hotel.) A food department was in the first basement. Many kind of cooked and chilled foods caught my eye. If there had been a microwave oven in my room, I would have been able to enjoy a very reasonable but luxurious dinner! There were special cash desks for shoppers who were going to buy five items or less. That was very functional. I noticed cashiers were sitting. What I had read in Mr. Oosugi's book was true! I bought a banana smoothie and a chocolate bar. I had them while I was standing in front of the station. That was all my lunch on that day. I bought a Travelcard at the station. It was all I need for getting on all Tubes and buses in a particular district of London for seven days. I got what was available for the center district: called zone 1 and 2. I spoke loud with an exaggerated pronunciation, but the cashier lady made no reaction, and just gave me the card. My unnecessary excitement died down. I think teaching materials for English learners in Japan too much exaggerate the way to speak. I saw no one spoke like that. They spoke in the same tone as Japanese ordinary conversation. Perhaps the situation is different in America? When people cleaved their way through the crowd, I hardly heard "Excuse me". They almost said just "sorry" lightly. Its feeling was very close to the one that we say "suimasen" in Japanese. So I used "sorry" very often. It was a very, very useful word!

Then I strolled along Kensington High Street. I couldn't go through quickly because there were many bookstores! I felt relaxed and comfortable in those bookstores though the place was not Japan. Maybe all bookstores have a similar atmosphere no matter where they are. I browsed them including some secondhand bookstores. I wanted to buy audio books narrated by Patrick Stewart that I hadn't known.
But I couldn't find anything like that. There were DVDs and videos too. I thought that the line-up and prices were not particularly different from them in Japan.

Barbican Theater
I went to Barbican by Tube. (I can't help but remember the non-alcohol beer that have the same name.... Speaking of "Barbican", I heard that Sean Bean had appeared in the commercial of the drink in UK. I had a chance to watch that image on the net. That was... oh, it's another story!) I went there for watching Barbican Theater, the stronghold of Royal Shakespeare Company. (Patrick Stewart has belonged to the company.) There were also a library and a few galleries in the same place, and they are functioning as cultural facilities called Barbican Center. But that day was a regular holiday. I took time to awake to that. Because I could enter the building, and there were some visitors in a lobby and a cafeteria. The theater seemed as big as Teikoku-gekijo theater (a famous Japanese big theater) as far as I saw the entrance. (It's only a guess. I didn't see the inside.) While I went back to the station, I was wondering if I can visit there again when Mr. Stewart appears in a Shakespeare's play there.
On the way to the station, I encountered a real kiss scene played by an old couple (they were elegant) when I went behind a building for tidying the contents of my bag.
I was surprised, and backed away.
I see!
In UK, however old they are, they seem to never neglect romantic rituals. I was impressed!

Watching a Turner collection at Tate Britain
Then I took Tube to Primco. There was Tate Britain that has a big collection of my another favorite British artist, J.M.W. turner. The museum was in front of the Thames. It was the only chance to see the river during this trip. That was a huge river. I was relieved when I found Japanese tourists because I had hardly seen them before that time. In the collection, I found a few pictures I remembered watching them in Japan. I was impressed that the collection was exhibited for free, though they set a box for donation at the entrance. I put some coins. From an information desk, a museum attendant lady talked to me in too fluently English. I did a very good job in telling her "Sorry, I can't understand your fluent English." without words. I got confident in my body language. There were also other inviting collections. But it was already past five and I was tired. (And of course I was afraid of missing buying dinner again!)
I bought a thin book about Turner's works, and went back to my hotel.

Earl's Court Station.... for a memory of trouble

A fire engine is coming!

It's emergency
Both the Circle Line (A very plain name! It's a loop line.) and the District Line served the nearest Tube station to my hotel.
And the District line diverged into another direction from the loop that my station belonged to, at a certain point. I took the wrong line. Then I had to go back to the fork station and transfer to the right line. The accident happened at the fork station.
When I was waiting for the train, I heard an announcement. That was heard like this. "....emergency.... all passengers.... leave this station immediately...." I couldn't hear it in any other way. But other passengers were calm as if they had not heard the announcement. I was puzzled. But station attendants started to usher us out of there at last. A lady in front of me, asked a station attendant. "How long it takes to retrieve?" He said "I hope it's only ten minutes." I had heard the Tube often stops. Is this the case that I heard?
In front of the station, passengers were just waiting. It seemed they didn't intend to go somewhere else to find other transportation at all. No one complained about this accident. Maybe that was quite usual to them.

But a fire engine was coming. And another two fire engines! Is this an unusual accident as I expected? Somehow I was excited, and prepared my camera. After several minutes, fire fighters were chuckling when they returned from the station. It seemed to be not serious. But the station's entrance was still closed. Some station attendants came out of the station, and started to explain something. I couldn't understand completely. Passengers fell away from there. What should I do? My destination was just the next station. But I didn't know if I could get to there on foot. I was set on asking. "Excuse me, I'm going to High Street Kensington. What should I do?!" That man said I should go to the opposite side of the station, and find a bus stop, and get on a bus. What? My guidebook had said like this. They don't announce the next bus stops. So ask a driver to tell you when you should get off. I had avoided buses, because I hadn't been able to have a confidence on my English!

But I had no choice. I saw a bus map at the bus stop. It was only three more bus stops to Kensington High Street. I thought, it's a piece of cake! All I have to do was to count bus stops during the ride! I took out my conversation phrase book (It was lucky that I was bringing it.) and asked a driver "Does this bus go to....", and I got the correct bus. I counted three, and got off, but.... It was not the place I expected. I realized the bus map hadn't told me every bus stop. I tried it again with the next bus. Fortunately, I found a familiar sight while I was looking out of the window. And I finished the unexpected adventure without a conversation with a driver. My stroll helped me in a way I had never imagined!

A hard day's dinner.
Teriyaki dressing?
I can't forget the set of three Japanese style salads I got at Marks & Spencer for dinner. They were a Teriyaki chicken salad, green leaf salad with Teriyaki dressing, and soba noodle salad flavored with Teriyaki taste. The Soba salad was most weird. It was just sweet taste. They said that was Teriyaki flavor. I wondered if "Teriyaki" was familiar to them. (Because the initial letter was capitalized!) Maybe this taste was easy to be accepted by the country has many sweet dishes. But I can't say it was true "Teriyaki" taste! However, I found the explanation amusing. Please take a look at the explanation.

1. Sliced Teriyaki chicken breast on a bed of Japanese style salad vegetables
(The vegetables were thin sliced cucumbers and carrots.
Why is this called Japanese style?)
2. Oriental baby leaf (I didn't know what was it.) salad with spring onion and a Teriyaki dressing
3. Noodle salad with a mix of egg and soba noodles, roasted siitake mushrooms and a Teriyaki dressing.
Topped with Japanese style pickled ginger and toasted sesame seeds
When I read this, I felt as if we ate incredibly curious food every day.

Albery Theater

In front of the theater

The Cinema Store and British Otaku.

The Cinema Store's show window. I found "Gatchaman"!
(They seem to call it "Battle of the planets". I wonder if they know this animation has been made in Japan.)

Albery Theater's advertising frame

26 July 2003
Cloudy, Rainy toward evening

The theater district like Asakusa-Rock!

Today's the day!
The play was scheduled to open at two-thirty p.m., but I went early and strolled around the theater. The venue was Albery theater, near to Leicester Square station. On a map, I found the place is center of the theater district. I got out of the station, and turned toward the theater. Then I found a billboard of "The Master Builder". I got to the theater soon.
It was smaller than I expected. The doors were wooden, and the whole of design looked so retro. I liked it.
In the front of the theater, monochrome photos of the present performance were displayed. It was surely the theater district, but I felt it was similar to Asakusa, rather than Broadway. (Asakusa is a place of tourist attraction in Japan. There was the theater district at my grandfather's era.
There are still a few halls and small stand-up comedy theaters. Actually, I have never been to Broadway. So I guessed this from images of Broadway that I have seen at TV or something.) The theater's way to display a billboard reminded me of a retro movie theater in Japan. There was a small cheap souvenir shop for foreign tourists in the neighborhood, and an old movie star's picture shop too. It's the same as Asakusa exactly. It's very interesting. (It was less messy than Asakusa, though.) Along the path next to the theater, small secondhand bookstores and antique illustration shops lined up. I enjoyed browsing there. The atmosphere was very comfortable for me.

The theater faced to St. Martin's Lane. Along the lane, there were The Cinema Store and The Cinema Book Shop. The Cinema Store was full of figures and movie magazines. It looked like a paradise for Otaku. ("Otaku" means maniacs. We often use this word to mean enthusiastic fans of comics or animation or science fiction.) And The Cinema Book Shop had a line-up of videos and books of studying movie. So I had planned to buy Nemesis figure that I hadn't seen directly in Japan, but it was not there. There were a lot of products of Road Of The Rings. It was the same as Japan.
There was a series of classic film guidebooks. And I found the title "Yukinojo-Henge" starring Kazuo Hasegawa, in the series! I was sorry it was not Hashizo Ookawa's version.
But it was very interesting. (Kazuo Hasegawa and Hashizo Ookawa are famous actors of Japanese costume play. They are the deceased. And I'm a fan of Hashizo Ookawa.) The English title was "An actor's revenge". Well.... It is surely a revenge story, but.... It's too much simple! And it's very difficult to translate the nuance into a different culture!

In the neighborhood, there was Tesco Metro, a supermarket chain. I couldn't miss it since I 'm a fan of Mr. Oosugi, and a supermarket-lover. If I compare Marks & Spencer with Saty or Ito-Yokado (Japanese supermarket chains), Tesco Metro could be compared to Seiyu or Sotetsu-Rozen (Japanese supermarket chains, a little smaller than the former one). I noticed all cashiers were African. I bought a Danish pastry including cheese and bacon, bottled water, (I got Tesco Metro's original product!) and a map book "London A to Z", and "Delight" (a dessert mix for kids) for souvenir. While walking, I got to a circular stone placed at a crossroad. Then I sat down among people there, and had lunch. I fed pieces of my pastry to pigeons.

Watching "The Master Builder"
At last, I went to the theater! I was told I had to change my ticket for the theater's ticket. Though Japanese ticket agency had told me the change would not be necessary. In traveling abroad, this kind of "unexpected" event happens so often. So we should enjoy it like this. "Oh, You move this pawn?" And we also should have the courage to claim when it's necessary. I had experienced some troubles before that, so I was not upset.

I went down the stair to the stalls. Inside of the theater was dark, so an usher stood by the entrance, and said "Mind your last step" or something to each of us. The brochures were sold at inside of the theater, not at entrance. They sold peanuts and some sweets too. It's very interesting.
The stage was small! No, maybe I should say it was a bit smaller than I had imagined. Its capacity seemed the same as Kinokuniya hall (A Japanese popular theater). The decoration looked antique style.... Perhaps it wasn't "style". Actually it was antique. A back of the seat in front of me frayed out. I had expected more big hall, and more big profit-making show like some kind of show charges first class price even for the second floor's seat. Because he is a Hollywood star! I never intend to insult him, but I think it is a kind of common knowledge. Is it unusual thought except Japan? Honestly speaking, I thought "After X-MEN 2, and this?" I was prepossessed irresistibly by his choice.

But, the price was not low. Stalls were forty pounds. One pound was 190 ~ 200 yen at that time, so it was about 8000 yen. In my case, the charges for Japanese and British agent were added, so the total came to 12300 yen. (I had no choice except it because I had no credit card. If you pay by credit card, you could get more reasonable ticket) When I compared it to the first class of Kabuki-za theater (it's 14000yen or more), I didn't feel it expensive. But the ticket agent was surprised with the price and said, "it's the same as big musical like Phantom Of The Opera. A straight play is usually more inexpensive than a musical, but this is reasonable since it's a big name's performance." I had no complaint.
And I noticed a price of entertainment in Japan is too much expensive. A Japan tour seems very good job for foreign artists. Should I say "Heigh-ho" or something?

In the play, there was no music and sound effects. The impression was so orthodox. It didn't seem to have been arranged. The script was written about a hundred years ago.
It could be called classic. But I expected more contemporary arrangement, because I had heard this version was based on a new adaptation written by John Logan, the "Nemesis"'s writer. So it was a bit surprising to me. I guessed it maybe had been a new "translation", not a new "adaptation". So it might have seemed new if I could hear the nuance of words.
And there was another reason for my impression. Because I was used to Japanese contemporary play. Many Japanese contemporary directors prefer to arrange a classic play strikingly, change the looks and sound effects into showy one, and increase their speed. And they are catching on with young audience. I don't welcome all this movement, but I'm just used to it. Maybe, the situation depends on the audience's taste in each country.

Anyway, the play was very good for me. While seeing Patrick Stewart saluting to audience at the curtain call, I felt he was an "actor" rather than a "Hollywood star". I was so glad. Most audience seemed to be middle-age. Perhaps it was because the show was a matinee on a weekday.

The detail of the play is here.
The Master Builder

Brochure, ticket, leaflets on "London theater guide"

An advertisement appeared on "London theater guide"

A hard day's dinner part 2

Where is the hotel?
After the play, it was raining. I was planning to attend the fan club's pre-event. A social gathering for the fan club members arranged at a hotel's suite. I had sent a mail "I'm going to visit you after seeing the play." to the club. I realized it had been reckless when I considered my English ability. Anyway, the venue was Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, near to Russell Square, the third station from Leicester Square. I found a Holiday Inn on my guidebook, and went to the place. When I visit the room.... no one was there. I knocked, but no one responded. I went to a reception and saw the hotel's brochure. The hotel's name was "Holiday-Inn London Kings Cross/Bloomsbury. It looked a bit different. And address was.... wrong! It was reasonable even if I was depressed, because I already had walked a considerable distance! But somehow, I was encouraged and my timidity was blown away.

I turned back and I reached London University. I seemed to have walked a bit excess distance. (After the trip, I knew the university was Soseki Natsume's university. I should have watched more carefully!) And I finally got to the hotel. The map that I bought at Tesco Metro was so helpful!
I went to a front of the room. A leaflet of The Master Builder was posted moderately on the door. This is the one! I knocked, but.... no one was there again. I was much more brave than usual at the time, so I went to the reception, and asked a receptionist to make a phonecall the room. (I assure it was impossible to my usual character!) No one responded. I had expected they would go to the soiree. And it was already past seven o'clock. If I came to here straight, I had to get to there in about twenty minutes. Maybe it was mistake to drop by at a supermarket for securing dinner. I was sorry. But at a part of my mind, I was relieved. I realized that I had a worry about talking with ordinary, native English speakers. If the meeting was so crowded, and I could enter and exit freely, it's OK. But how about it was small enough to recognize each one? If I was stuck in a conversation, maybe I couldn't varnish it....
OK, I did all I can do. Maybe it's a good luck for me. I thought like that, and I decided to go back to my hotel. But I still had a little worry. I had to receive my ticket for tomorrow's gathering. Perhaps they felt I had broken an appointment. I thought, "If they did so, is there a possibility that my seat will be canceled?" As a last resort, I decided to leave a note for them. The lobby was occupied by a group of tourists, so I wrote it at the outside, a side of the front door. That was a hard job. Because I couldn't use my computer's spelling check system! I deeply realized the value of computers. If I hadn't had it, I wouldn't have come to UK. When I had difficulty consulting my dictionary, a blond girl who had come out of the lobby for smoking stared at me.
I couldn't afford to regard her, so I ignored her. I should have looked strange to her. I finished my hard job, and I went my hotel by Tube.

It was a hard day again. When I got to my room, I felt a big tiredness flooded into my body. But somehow, I was satisfied to have accomplished a lot of things with English. My brain seemed very simple.

Backwater from a drain!
In the night, I was writing down my impressions about the play. Suddenly, I heard a gurgle from a bathroom. I couldn't believe my sight. A backwater was springing from a bathtub's drain! There was no drain outside of a bathtub.
I had been told "If you spill water from a bathtub, you will be claimed a compensation." No way! If they misunderstand this as my fault, I can't explain in English!
I was upset, and hastened to make sentences for making a phonecall. During this, the water stopped. But it still remained about 5 centimeters in the bottom of a bathtub . I was relieved that I didn't have to call a maintenance man because I was so sleepy. But it was too terrible to overlook. So I decided to write a complaint on a card. (The card seemed to be there to be written a score about bedmaking or something) Before I finish writing, the water was gone. But some hairs still remained. (Actually, I had noticed the same situation at the first day, but I flushed it out and had used only shower.) It seemed to be a problem about piping, so it was impossible to fix it soon.
Well.... but I was not concerned about it.
I felt myself had become a bit stronger.


Post cards that I received at the Gathering.
Thanks PSN!
27 July 2003
A beautiful day

Black pudding...and "carp"
The day of PSN's Gathering. I had a black pudding and a baked tomato for breakfast. I felt that I had got an English breakfast at last! The black pudding looked black exactly, its diameter was the same as a yogurt cup, and sliced in about 7 millimeters thick. I tried a nibble of it. It was salty, but not especially strange taste. Until then, I had expected more disgusting taste, because I had heard that it was stuffed with the blood of pigs. But its taste had no problem completely. I had thought that a baked tomato always be sliced. But the hotel's tomatoes were whole, had a cut mark of the cross at the top, and almost raw. It was a welcome food to me, because there were no salads. (Perhaps it would sound strange if you don't live in Japan. We prefer having fresh salads for breakfast.) I had tomato every morning since that day. After I returned to my room, I felt sick slightly. I doubted the black pudding, and I took a medicine that I brought from Japan. But it calmed down soon. I was relieved. I usually don't have lots of meat for breakfast, but I had even bacon and ham in that morning. Maybe it was bad for me.

I got on the Tube. At the next station, a macho man who wearing sleeveless shirt and a pierced earring in his left ear, got on my train. He had a tattoo in his right arm. The tattoo was Japanese character ""... It means "carp"! I couldn't escape from the strange sight because he stood in front of me. He was facing right, so I had to face his tattoo. … 鯉!?
Why carp!? He did never seem to be aiming to look funny. Was it thought cool in London? I thought he had misunderstood that character as "
" that has the same pronunciation as . It means love. Or perhaps he selected that because he simply liked its shape. Anyway, it was hard time! I had to suppress my chuckle until I got to my destination. But I never blame him because we often find strange English words on T-shirts in Japan. I could find a bit funny "Japanese-style" things in London like the Teriyaki salad in Marks & Spencer. It seemed that Japanese culture was being imported in funny way. It was so interesting, and amusing to me.

The Gathering
I got to the venue, Albery Theater, the same place as the venue of the play. We had been required to make a reservation. And club's staff checked our names against the list. I had an accident at the entrance. The staff told me that the money order that I sent needed a charge beyond the face value! She returned my money order, then I paid in cash. I took a time to understand this, and asked her again, and again. I had to ask her to write it down in the end. I was sorry that I bothered her. She was so kind. I was upset a bit, but her gentle behavior relieved me. I asked her if there were other Japanese. She said that I was the only Japanese there. I was surprised, because I had expected that there would be some Japanese attendee. I realized why I was asked which was a family name at last. (I intended to ask about yesterday's Gathering hotel, but I forgot it before the money order problem. After the Gathering, I heard that the hotel Gathering's attendees had been not many. Maybe I was lucky.)

I think there were about 120 to 130 attendees. We occupied only a half of the first floor. (I guess you can imagine the theater was not huge.) Seats were decided according to dates of postmarks on reservation envelopes we sent. They seemed to consider fair seating. The front row was empty, and there was a stool between the stage and seats. It was for Mr. Stewart. My seat was in the second row, the second from the left. I was able to watch him without any efforts because it was the front row practically. In the right side of me, there was a pair of young girls who looked like students of junior high school. (I'm not sure... They often look older than Japanese in the same age.) In the left side, there was a middle-aged lady. I would have talked to her if I had confidence in hearing native speaker's English. But I didn't. It was because I had realized the limits of my English ability at the entrance.

Until Mr. Stewart arrived, club staff were talking in front of the audience. It seemed that she named many countries, and the attendee from the country replied to her. I could hear "Finland". Then I felt she pronounced "Japan" and my name. (She pronounced my name in a bit different sound.
After that, I was told that Japanese pronunciation was difficult for them, so "Speak slowly." It was interesting! "L" or "R" or "TH" sound in English is far more difficult for us!) I said, "Here." And I raised my hand instantly. Then she approached me and handed me a postcard that autographed by Patrick Stewart, and other attendees gave me clapping! I thought perhaps I was the attendee who from most far country, so I said, "Thank you!" and showed the card to them. (The card was the poster of "GENERATIONS" in reduced size.) I hope my reaction was correct there. I was impressed by their warm consideration.

After that, we enjoyed a lottery (one pound for one ticket) and an auction. I bought ten tickets for the lottery, and one of them came up. I got a big postcard of Locutus. (I love the shape of Locutus!) It was autographed too. I just looked on the auction. An autographed Picard figure of Nemesis priced beyond fifty pounds.

Mr. Patrick Stewart

He spoke in a very calm voice....

I wish I could understand all contents!

Caffe Nero's loyalty card.
(I remember the barista was so cute,
though his T-shirt said that he was a trainee.)
This card assures that my 10th coffee will be free.
I'm not sure that I could collect more seven stamps.


Mr. Patrick Stewart!
Finally, Mr. Stewart appeared with a smile on his face! He was wearing a white T-shirt, blue jeans, Nike's sneakers, and bringing a 500 ml PET bottle of Vittel. He was 63 years old, but looked active! He looked younger than Picard in Nemesis and Xavier in X-2. Perhaps his beard could make him look youthful. His thick arm surprised me! It seemed that he spent a lot of time in workout. But his voice was very gentle... Does he always speak in such a wonderful voice? I felt as if I was spellbound by his voice. We were allowed to take pictures with a flashlight, for the first ten minutes. So audience took pictures with continuous flashes. But he was talking during that ten minutes. I felt sorry about it, although it was allowed. Why don't we listen to his talk? But I couldn't understand his talk... I took pictures...

He said "infection" or something in the opening talk, and drank water very often. I thought he was afraid of catching cold. After the trip, I heard his understudy had replaced him in the former week, since he got a throat infection. I think he was talking about that. Understudies were introduced in a brochure. I don't know if this kind of accident happens often, but I am thankful that I could see his performance. (But the understudy actor looked attractive too. Honestly speaking, this roll requires an attractive actor.) When I saw the play, Mr. Stewart's voice had no problem. It was brilliant.
I had ever read that he often drink much water in a talk show. It was true. He drank a whole bottle of Vittel, and opened a bottle of water that staff provided, and took it away when he left. I imagine it is probably necessary to keeping his precious voice. What a tough professional life! I must be in a rest room all day if I try such much water!

He received questions openly, and answered kindly. I was fascinated afresh by his gentle behavior. Someone in a far back of me asked a question. But the voice was low. Mr. Stewart tried to hear that again in a nearer place. He came to the left side, setting his hand near his ear. He was in front of me. I was uneasy. I felt it was rude to gaze at him in a close distance. And I was ashamed to blush. So I couldn't see his face, and looked down or back. I was too self-conscious... I should have gazed at him even if I blushed, or had a nosebleed, or lost my consciousness!
But I almost couldn't understand his talk. Although I could hear his voice... It seemed that he was talking about the play and his works in the future. I seem to remember hearing that he mentioned a work as a voice actor in an animation film. I think he said the story was about a stallion, and his roll was an old horse... (Sorry, it was beyond my English ability. Perhaps, this "information" is wrong completely! Please check other sources...) And I think I heard he would appear in another John Logan's film, and Kevin Spacey's name
if it was true, I'm so glad because I like Spacey too.
I like sci-fi movies. But I hope to see him in other kind of movie too.

I had expected a noisier gathering since I had ever read about some Star Trek conventions. But it was small, and calm gathering. I was especially impressed by attendee's good manners. I think it was because they were fans of "Patrick Stewart", not "Star Trek". Of course, they all must love Star Trek. (Especially "the next generation") They were not so young. (I'm in my thirties... not so young too!) I didn't see children at least. Mr. Stewart doesn't deny the possibility of farewell to Picard. I think it influenced them. They didn't seem to intend to stick to only one character. I think it is quite natural for fans of a so talented actor. Of course, I never saw a costume player. I have no idea if there are difference between Britain and America. But I liked their adult mood. And I thought I'd like to attend it again if it were usual for them. But I need to improve my English for the next opportunity!


Trafalgar Square

A souvenir stall. I love this cheap taste!

Leicester Square's statue

British Museum

Fish and chips. It was delicious!

28 July 2003
A beautiful day

My main purpose had finished. I felt relaxed. Then, I started to exact sight seeing at last! First three days were almost rainy, but it cleared since 27th July. I was even lucky. Hanging my new digital camera from my neck, I was ready to play a typical Japanese tourist!

Trafalgar Square ~ Covent Garden

At first, I took the Tube to Charing Cross station. Since it was a big sight seeing spot, the station was so bigger than other stations I used until then. I bought a 500 ml PET bottle of Vittel at a newsagent, (a kind of Kiosk in UK) following Mr. Stewart's drink. I headed for the Trafalgar Square. It was huge! What a big structure! It was a very sight seeing spot. Then I walked to Piccadilly Circus. It was simply a circular fountain at a big crossing. But somehow, the view of wide roads refreshed me. I felt as if I came to Ginza (a famous big street in Japan) after walking only residential areas and less wide roads. I tried to get to Leicester Square through Oxford Street, but I took a wrong way again. I found a very tall stature in center of a wide road there. Wow, this is London!

I returned to the right street. And I strolled toward Leicester Square dropping by some bookstores and HMV. In Leicester Square, there was a statue in the center, benches were set along to radial short passes. The rest of the space was a lawn. A Chinese woman was letting her son play there. In Japan, this kind of bench is often occupied by homeless people or other people. So it is rare that I can sit down. But there were some empty benches in a peaceful atmosphere. I took a seat and drank vittel.
It was a short distance to my familiar area from there. I went to see the Albery Theater. There was no performance that day. A big track was parking in front of the theater. I went to Cecil Court lined with secondhand bookstores. and bought an antique poster of Titanic cruise. Maybe it was a reduced print. It was a souvenir for my father. (He isn't a fan of "Titanic" the movie. He just likes ships so much!) The price was 9 pounds. The shopkeeper wasn't aware of me because he was involved in taking some notes. When I said "Hello?", he was so surprised. Maybe the shop rarely had a customer. But he was so gentle, so I could enjoy shopping in a good feeling.

The route from there to Covent Garden had become familiar to me. It was because I walked around there every day. I strolled into a kind of flea market called Jubilee Market and Apple Market. There were antique jewelry, antique illustrations like what I bought, and other antique things.
Their origins were not clear, but it was very interesting to browse them. In front of Covent Garden Station, I found Marks & Spencer. I dropped by there to use restroom, but there wasn't. I could imagine the owner didn't want to make the store jam with countless tourists.

Fish & chips at British Museum
I got to Tottenhum Court Road, and headed for British Museum. It was a free museum. On the way to the museum, I looked for some portfolio at the painting materials shop to carry my Titanic poster. I couldn't find a good thing for it. But the shop's atmosphere was so comfortable. It looked like an antique building. I used a restroom at British Museum. Two young girls were washing (or crushing?) some kind of berry. They scattered the juice around the washbowl cheerfully. I didn't see the exhibitions because I was in a hurry. I bought fish and chips (a famous British snack food: fried fish and potatoes.) at a shop that I found on the way to the museum. I had worried if I could eat it because I had not seen a signboard of it until then. I realized that foods for tourists always be provided at a tourist's spot!

I ordered it as takeaway. The shop was a small restaurant, and there were a few waitresses. They had nothing to do because there was no visitor. The waitress who received my order was so pretty girl. She had a blond hair, wearing much makeup. I usually avoid this kind of girl in Japan because showy girls are often unkind. But she was so kind! She invited me to have a seat until my order was done. Yes, they fry it after taking orders. I was surprised because I was used to buying reheated snack foods that cooked a few hours ago. I brought it to British Museum, and had it for late lunch. There were vinegar, salt, ketchup and tartar sauce with it. I liked vinegar and salt. It was delicious!

Comic book shop
By the way, my purpose was not British Museum. There were two comic book shops in the neighborhood of the museum. First, I went to "Gash!" facing the road that leads to British Museum. There were some thin books that looked like Japanese amateur books. (In Japan, they are almost fan books depend on famous comics or animations. But British books were original comics. ) I heard that there were many independent publishers for comics. (They are not amateur books.) I guess the lineup I saw was reflecting their situation. Since they have no comic magazine, the situation seemed so different from Japan.

As I expected, the best place of the shop was occupied with American action comics like X-MEN. I thought that was the main stream. I also found MANGA JAPAN with a recommending note in a good place to see. There was a notice that said Manga was in the basement. When I went down the stairs, I found a shelf filled with translations of Japanese comics. Most of them were for boys or men, for example GTO. But I could find some comics for girls. I can't recall titles because I don't read girl's comic magazines usually, but I think they were love comedies like that we read on "Margaret". (A Japanese popular comic magazine for girls.) Other shelves seemed to be filled with local comics. They were almost like American action comics. Their styles were dark, hard, and some kind of heavy metal. It seemed that they were catching on with British comic-lovers. But I wasn't attracted to them because I wanted to see more old-fashioned western comics. I wanted to buy "Little Nemo in Slumberland", but I couldn't find it there. Maybe it was too old... But there were TinTin series. (I love the touch of TinTin, and I have a few translations of TinTin books.) They were not hardcovered, and had more reasonable prices than Japanese translations. I wanted to have all of them, but I hesitated to buy them. Because they were too heavy to carry , and I can get them in Japan at least, even if their price were not reasonable. I wanted to put a high priority on books that unavailable in Japan. So I didn't buy them. Most of customers were men. I was surprised that there were some middle-aged gentlemen.

The Picard doll. A personal monitor, beaming phaser, tricorder, and mug for enjoying "tea, Earl Grey, hot" were attached.

Forbidden Planet

A bag of Forbidden Planet. Nemesis's advertisement!

Forbidden Planet
I headed for Forbidden Planet that was facing the next street. It was bigger, and had good line-up of action figures. It was a exact paradise for Otaku! I was so comfortable there... The bottom of the shop was comic space. I had ever read that the shop had the biggest line-up in Europe. I lost myself in browsing. There were TinTIn and Snoopy, but Little Nemo was not. There were not French comics too. Maybe my taste is too retro. I found a TNG comic book, but after seeing real Patrick Stewart, it was not attractive to me.
There were Nemesis figures, but only viceroy. I was sorry. Instead of that, I got a small Picard doll. I couldn't stand the magnetism of its toy-like shape! Meanwhile, I got many interesting souvenirs for friends and myself. For example, a picture book of Thunderbirds, a mouse pad of The Search for Spock, original comic of Dick Tracy, etc.

When I was browsing, an African-British boy spoke to me in natural speed. I was upset because I couldn't understand what he said. Then I asked back. Since he wasn't smiling, I thought he was complaining of something... He tapped his wrist. he was just asking me the time! I was relieved, and showed my wrist watch to him.

The customers looked younger than the customers in Gash!.
They looked cooler than Japanese Otaku. For example, I found a girl who had short blond hair. Her hair was a very short bob that hung down to the level of her ears. And her nose was pierced, her clothes were made of leather. It is true that we tend to feel European people cool. But there was a particular mood different from Japanese Otaku people.
In London, they seemed to regard this taste as a part of counter culture. Cashiers were so friendly and polite. The cashier boy said, "Thank you very much." I think he was the only one who said "very much" in this trip. Perhaps it depended on each one's personality.

Charing Cross Road...A lot of book stores!
I took the Tube again. I headed for Charing Cross Road. There were many bookshops along the road, so I couldn't get along quickly. That place resembled Jinbocho. (The most famous bookshop district in Japan.) In a comic book shop, I found a middle-aged British gentleman again. I intended to avoid books available in Japan, but I couldn't ignore the discount bookshop's too much reasonable prices.
I bought "Othello". It was only 1.12 pounds! It was not secondhand or a digest. It provided a glossary as well. But it was far cheaper than Japanese pocketbooks. Unbelievable!
"Othello" is the play that Patrick Stewart played the leading character several years ago. The story was about a Moor General in Venice; a "black" man in a "white" world. But he played the reverse-version. Since I got to London, I was noticed that most bus drivers and cashiers of cheap supermarkets were a kind of colored. It didn't look like a good job. (Maybe I was a little sensitive about it because I wasn't used to seeing people who have dark skin, although I always feel myself a kind of colored.) The impact of the reverse-version in European world must have been stronger than I thought. I heard it was Patrick's idea. In this connection, I have ever heard that he suggested an African-American actress as the co-star of "First Contact". I respect him for his advanced point of view, and various talents as an artist. And I'm so glad my favorite actor is a respectable person.

Unfortunately, I was too late to see his Othello. I have ever seen only photos and reviews. But the story looked so interesting, so I read the translation of the script, and I was involved with it so deeply. It was not only classic, but also hot, and passionate. I really regret that I missed his Othello!
Anyway, I bought the English script only for consulting the original expressions of my favorite words. I never think I could read it through.

In Charing Cross Road, I looked for some portfolio for my Titanic poster. I entered a stationery shop. An African-British clerk keenly said to me, "Are you all right!?" I was frightened, and looked at him. He said "You!" First, I instantly thought he was mistaking me for a shoplifter or something, but he clearly said, "Are you all right?"... I thought I might look so tired. I said, "I'm ok, thank you." Then I went out of the shop. After that, I looked at a mirror. My hair was disheveled, my face was oily, and my eyes were bloodshot. He must have been frightened when he saw my face.

Sushi selection, milk, strawberry with cream
Japanese Sushi Selection
I was exhausted when I got to High Street Kensington Station. I headed to Marks&spencer straight. I bought fresh strawberry (with fresh cream), milk, and their original sushi including California roll. The milk was one pint. It was the smallest one, but it was too much to me. (There was no refrigerator in my hotel's room) But I could drink it in two times. The inside of the container was caked with cream while it had been left. It seemed thicker than Japanese milk.
Recently, we can see California Roll in Japan. But I ate it for the first time. It was covered with white sesame instead of Nori. (a black seat of a sea vegetable.) The filling was shrimp and mayonnaise. But the taste was like a rice ball of convenience store rather than sushi. It dried up because I left it for a while, so it broke easily. It was hard to eat. I recognized that a traditional recipe has a natural reason. There were also salmon sushi, small norimaki, (a sushi roll wrapped in Nori) soy sauce, and a small piece of Gari (a pickled ginger.) I made a green tea with a teabag I brought from Japan. Green tea is necessary for sushi!

Papaya Suzuki on the English TV show
In the midnight, I happened to see a TV program that introduced viewers to Japanese culture. Two English men reported in Japan. It was so funny to see a interview with Papaya Suzuki with English captions. (a middle-aged dancer and choreographer. He is famous with his comical fat physique) He explained the meaning of Oyaji (means a tired old man or father. He commented seriously about Oyaji. He said that Oyaji had been a good word but the meaning had changed to a negative one.) In the last of the interview, he was asked for an encouraging message for English middle-aged men! And he performed a short dance with his dance unit, Oyaji Dancers (all members are middle-aged men... with comical looks.) And I saw a report on a appearance of a pair of English men on a Japanese late-night program. They called Gaijin Invention or something. (I didn't know if this two men were same as the MC. They were wearing black tights, and sang a comical song in broken Japanese. They were so funny.) They also reported of the people who love strange cars that hop like horses of a rodeo, (I have never seen that) and the top ten of Japanese "Kawaii" items, including Aibo (a robot dog.) "Kawaii" means cute. It seemed that they were thinking Kawaii was the keyword of today's Japanese culture. I could accept them as a part of today's Japan. It was far better than Fujiyama or Geisha... But I never want you to understand Japan from only this side. But the program was so amusing. I wanted to record and bring it to Japan.


The statue of Sherlock Holmes

The wax doll of Patrick Stewart. As like as two peas!

A picture of Mr. Stewart and his wax doll.
"Now I will never leave London. Thank you."
I like his comment.

29 July 2003
Fair to rainy

Madame Tussaud's
It was the last day in London. In the morning, I checked out of the hotel, and asked them to keep my luggage. I went to Baker Street. It's famous for Sherlock Holmes. There was a statue of Mr. Holmes although he is an imaginary character. This kind of feelings seemed to be common in any countries. I remembered that there was a monument to Heiji Zenigata in Kanda Myojin shrine. (Heiji Zenigata is a popular character in a kind of Japanese detective story. It's a costume play. According to the story, he lived in the place near the Kanda Myojin shrine.) I'm not a Sherlockian, but I wanted to visit there following Mr. Data's favorite if I had enough time. (In that time, I was not Holmes fan yet. I regret it so strongly now!! )I was sorry that I hadn't enough time.

Anyway, I went to Madame Tussaud's wax dolls museum. It was a popular tourist's spot for life-sized wax dolls of celebrities, and to take photos was allowed. I went there since I heard Mr. Stewart's doll was there! When I got to there, I was surprised at the very long line! It was exactly the tourist's spot! It took about an hour to get into the museum. Mr. Stewart's doll was in the first room. It had no beard, wearing a tuxedo. It was a wonderful work. I was able to feel as if I was really standing by him. It was free to touch him, hold him, or even kiss him! But I was well-behaved of course... I touched his right hand only. (Somehow, I felt it was rude to touch his face although it was only a doll... I mean, it was a lifelike doll!)

I took many photos, and I was satisfied. It was enough for me. I wanted to get out of the place immediately, but I had to walk through all rooms to exit. At the first room, there were also other famous actors. For example, Mel Gibson, Tom cruise, and others. They were positioned with natural poses on the floor. It was hard for me to recognize dolls and visitors, because they both seemed "foreigners" to me. I was frightened when I found that a person who was standing next to me was a doll.

The politician's dolls were interesting to me. It was so funny to watch tourists who were taking pictures with Tony Blair and George Bush on the platform that had a mark of United Nations. There were Gandhi, Dalai Bla-ma, and even Sadam hussein...
The "treasure planet"'s show was not a "treasure" to me. It was a soaring-experience film event in a planetarium. OK, it was not bad. But I was getting impatient at having to wait for 20 minutes! I was upset because my time was limited. Perhaps, it might be possible to skip it, but I didn't know how I could escape from the planetarium where was full of children.

Theater Museum and
saying farewell to Albery Theater
I headed for Covent Garden by the Tube. I went to the theater museum. This museum exhibits the history of western theaters. They hold some workshops, for example stage make-up. The exhibitions were massive although it was free. I think that any people who are interested in a western stage performance will never be bored there even if they spend a day there. There were palm prints of actors on the wall of the aisle that leads to exhibition rooms. I heard that they include Timothy Dalton's prints. I couldn't find anything that related with Patrick Stewart. But it was so interesting. I had to leave there soon because the time to return to the hotel was approaching. I wished I could stay more.

Albery Theater's stage door
Then I went to Albery Theater to say farewell to the theater. I looked at the billboard that had become familiar to me. And I went to Leicester Square station through the short cut behind the theater. I looked at the stage door with a deep impression on the way. I was surprised because my eyes were getting wet with tears. I had never thought I was sensitive in this way. I sniffled and hid my tears. I hurried to the station so that people who were walking the path didn't think me a strange girl who was staring the stage door with tearful eyes. Thank you so much, Mr. Stewart. You gave me a chance to have these irreplaceable experiences.

Going home
I took the Tube from Leicester Square to High Street Kensington. I dropped in Marks & Spencer to farewell, and returned to the hotel. My travel agency's lady picked me up. She was nice. I was carrying the Titanic poster without a portfolio. We were allowed to bring only one baggage into a cabin. I asked her if I should pull all my luggage together. She said, "No problem! I'll keep your extra thing while you are checking in. They will never notice it." ... and she did that. Well... I was anxious about another baggage check though... Anyway, she relaxed me. The departure check was very easier than a arrival check as she said.

Three middle-aged ladies group and a lady who was much the same age to me were together on the bus to Heathrow airport. The young lady's baggage's tag was stuck on my ticket together with my tag. So we were together until we picked up our baggage in Narita airport. Our seats were in the same line, but we hardly talked in the plane, because we were exhausted and slept so deeply. But we talked much in the airport. She was so friendly. I got a pleasant memory at the end of that trip.

In Heathrow airport, I bought a lemon cake and a cup of tea after some shopping. I intended to make them substitute for famous "British afternoon tea", because I hadn't had a time to have it during the trip. But I noticed a big mistake after I bought them. The cake was "made in France"! Oh... Anyway, I enjoyed them. Then my plane departed at 7:35 P.M. I hope to visit there again someday!

After the trip

I couldn't have a famous "afternoon tea" in London.
So I bought a scone, clotted cream, and strawberry jam
at the supermarket near by, then I ate them in my house.
This tea is Earl Grey, of course!

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