LONDON – My mother liked potted plants but not potted people. She thought people would be better off if they drank – like the plants – strictly water. A determined gardener, she would have been pleased to accompany another one, my friend Aurelio, to Kew Gardens and have this pointed out:
“Before you is the oldest potted plant in the entire world.”
Really? continue reading »
June 13 2001 | England and Travel | No Comments »
LONDON – Paul Shelley crashed to the stage in a swirl of knives, and Julius Caesar was dead.
Again. How many times has he expired over the 400 years since a scribbler named Shakespeare memorialized the Roman emperor’s assassination of 44 BC in a play called “Julius Caesar”? Countless-plus. It’s hardly an exclusive club that leading man Shelley has joined. He’s but one of myriad thespians in the role, another startled Caesar who recognizes pal Brutus (“You, too, old buddy!”) as one of the culprits before his lines and time run out.
Nevertheless, Shelley knows he isn’t just another Caesar. He’s a member of the Red Company of actors presenting “JC” this summer where it began – sort of – at the Globe Theatre on London’s south bank of the Thames. Located nearby long ago was the original Globe, boasting William Shakespeare as a house playwright and actor (and shareholder). It met death by fire in 1613. continue reading »
June 23 1999 | England and Travel | No Comments »
BIRMINGHAM, England – If I’m looking for a doge’s palace, the Bridge of Sighs, or Marco Polo’s favorite pizza joint, forget it. I guess I’m in the wrong Venice.
Venice? Well, a Limey named Simon Kelner, one of London’s great newspaper boys, has told me, “Birmingham is the Venice of our north-of-London. The Midlands actually. You’ll love it.”
Really? Do they speak Italian? Did Shakespeare’s Venetian loanshark, Shylock, ever refer to his hometown as the Birmingham of Italy?
Thomas Mann wrote a pretty good book called “Death in Venice,” and an erratic Italian, Luchino Visconti, did the movie version, which has its moments. But as far as I know, neither one is working on “Death in Birmingham.” Too bad, said another Londoner, Ann Burgess, “because Birmingham is the deadest city in the country.” continue reading »
June 20 1999 | England and Travel | No Comments »
BOSTON, England – Caroline Wilson says, “Oh, you’re from that other Boston? We’re told it’s a nice place. Bigger than ours, and on a river, too.”
“Well, it is, but your Boston is very nice as well. Very nice,” says my friend, Aurelio, as Caroline sets a late breakfast on the garden table: bacon, eggs – and baked beans.
Baked beans in the original Bean? Ah. Perfect. Is this where it all began. Did the Bostonian tradition commence here? continue reading »
June 18 1999 | England | 1 Comment »