It dumped buckets the entire bus ride into the city of London early that next day, making me remember that we should have packed umbrellas. Oops. I joked that London was the Seattle of Europe, to which no one laughed, but my group had something else in store for me. They were finally talking to me again after the Oxford “incident,” and the type of talking they were doing was dreadful. You see, they all decided to affect a British accent just in time for London, and it was only the members of my group. Suddenly everyone was “bobbies,” “gits,” and “wankers,” and man, those accents made me cringe they were so horrible. But apparently they were planning to embarrass me to death in front of the other members of our party. It succeeded tremendously.
We pulled into the city in mid-afternoon with the rain still coming down in sheets, a perfect shower to clean us off after yet another filthy bus ride (I’m kidding. The buses we used were always immaculate). When we got to our hotel to drop off our bags, we were all exhausted. A trip like the one we were on takes a lot out of you, and we could all see the light at the end of the tunnel, but we were definitely going to have to crawl there in order to reach it. London was our final destination, though, and we were going to enjoy it if it killed us. The hotel was right across the street from the new Wembley Stadium, which was seriously cool, but I had no more memory in my camera card, and there were no more photos I wanted to delete, so my first priority was finding a shop and getting a card if I could.
Just like with London we had some free time that first day, but a lot of us ended up doing the Jack the Ripper tour, with the others staying at the hotel. We took the tube into the city, and I was finally treated to those lovely signs that said “Mind the Gap,” and yes, they were plastered everywhere at each tube stop. There were eight stops between Wembley, where we were, and the city center, where the tour was going to start. When we emerged from the underground station we were right across the street from the Tower of London, which was quite surreal. After hearing so much talk about the tower, it was just so odd to finally see it up close and personal right in front of us. Then the tour started.
We were apparently on the fringes of both polite London society and the seedy underbelly of the city, which is where the entire story of Jack the Ripper took place. Our special tour guide led us on a walking tour of all the places associated with the Ripper, and it was all quite eerie hearing the stories as we passed by the real places that went along with the stories. We traveled quite far in a radius to take in all of the historically significant areas that the serial murderer frequented, and I was glad I decided to accompany the group who hadn’t decided to nap it up at the hotel. Even taking the tour, however, didn’t take up the whole night and I was raring for more adventure.
When we had first pulled into London our original tour guide who had traveled with us from the start mentioned that he had a friend in the theater ticket sales arena and that he might be able to get us tickets to an actual London theater show for later that night. He needed money upfront, however, and it was going to be 35 euros to attend. So, I called the boss (my wife) and asked her if it would be okay to use that much money on a theater show. She said to go for it, and I threw in my lot even with the possibility that he wouldn’t be able to deliver on the show. Luckily for us, our tour guide got a call from him while we were on the Jack the Ripper tour and it was all a go.
Eight of us went to the show, a production called Blood Brothers in the theater district of London. We took the tube to get there, and by that time we were becoming quite learned on how to ride the underground in London. We also always minded the gap without having to look at the signs to do so. It was exceedingly late when we arrived at the Phoenix Theatre but we had been going so long on adrenaline that we somehow were able to keep it going just a bit longer. And the show was excellent. I still have the ticket stub around here somewhere, probably in my keepsake box. It was about these brothers who didn’t know they were brothers because they were raised in completely opposite situations, one rich and the other poor. But I won’t give it all away. I’ll just say that it had to do with Marilyn Monroe, and that the blood referenced actual blood. Anyway, by the time we dragged ourselves back to the hotel it was early the next morning and we dropped into bed, exhausted.
Coming soon… the final entry in the “You Call This a Shower?” series, in which I get two new cameras, we tour London properly, and I swear I saw the queen.