Friday, October 24, 2008
What a rollicking evening I had at the Royal Theater today! I have just returned from a hysterically comedic evening in the company of two of the UK's funniest women--Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders who have been entertaining audiences on both sides of the Atlantic for the past thirty years. I, of course, got to know of the duo through PBS screenings of The Vicar of Dibley that starred French as Vicar Geraldine Grainger of the village of Dibley. That was it...I was so hooked on to her talents that I rented French and Saunders from the library and became introduced to her other half--Jennifer Saunders (who also had a huge hit with Absolutely Fabulous). Crashing through the essentially male world of stand-up comedy, this twosome hit the scene in the 70s and have been steadily at it for what seems like forever.
I was even more delighted to learn that while Dawn French might be the other half of Jennifer Saunders, she is the better half of comedian Lenny Henry (the arrogant, wordy, tell-it-like-it-is Chef Gareth Blackstock of Chef!)--the other show that I grew to love on PBS in the States. I was sorely disappointed that this limited engagement sell-out show had no seats available for any of the nights that Llew will be in London. So, I had to content myself with spending an evening guffawing--make that rolling in the aisles--at the Drury Lane Theater all on my own. But not for a second did I feel lonely, for I was in the company of legions of French & Saunders fans who hung on to their every antic, syllable and lyric in this fantastic celebration of their three decades in the limelight.
The Theater itself was a treat to visit. One of London's oldest theaters, it was constructed in the mid-1600s and rebuilt (after the Great Fire of London) by Sir Christopher Wren. From the foyer with its magnificent dome and glittering chandelier and the marble sculptures of the doyens of playwriting and drama (Shakespeare, Edward Kean, Balfe), to the interior with its ornate boxes, gilded plasterwork on ceiling and elaborate scroll decoration, the space is opulent and historic. Dickens was a frequent visitor to this theater as was Dr. Johnson and his constant companion Boswell.
Right opposite, is the famous candy store Hope and Greenwood with its unique chocolate creations (Lime Creams, Lavender Truffles, Strawberry and Black Pepper Chocolates and Squirrels which are chocolates that look like acorns !). But for the fact that I am trying to lose some weight--the less weight I carry upon my feet now, the better), I would have bought a pound and feasted on them all by myself!
But for this evening's excursion, I had been exceptionally good today, following doctor's orders and carrying out my routine of exercises and foot massages and rest. I graded a bunch of papers while stretched out in bed and took it nice and easy.
Indeed, I even managed to change the venue of my appointment this morning with retired Professor Lionel Caplan who taught South Asian Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies. We had fixed up to meet for coffee at 11 am at the British Library, but in view of my condition, Lionel agreed to come over to my flat. We sat down over cups of coffee and discussed his work among Anglo-Indians in Madras--the outcome of which is his excellent book, Children of Colonialism: Anglo-Indians in a Post-Colonial World. I have been greatly inspired by his work as a scholar and in the research I am conducting among Anglo-Indians in the UK, I pick up where he left off and examine the position of diasporic Anglo-Indian immigrants in the West. He very helpfully brought me a bunch of contacts that I can continue to tap as I delve deeper into my investigations, as well as suggested his former colleagues at SOAS who might be of assistance to me for the rest of my stay in London.
So I guess my day was intensely productive and, thanks to laptop technology, I am able to get a lot done even while confined to my flat. I am grateful for this and keep taking courage from the number of people, some in my own family, who are laboring right now under far worse health constraints. By keeping a positive attitude and looking for ways to take my mind off my affliction, I am hoping to heal, not just physically but psychologically as well. Llew is a tremendous help in this regard. He has been functioning as my coach, rahrah-ing me along, albeit through long-distance calls, and urging me to stay in high spirits. I cannot wait to see him next week this time and I keep thinking of all the fun things we will do together...God willing!