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Violating Sanctions

An American Woman’s Listening Tour Through the Axis of Evil

The London Logs: The Groundling View

The Author By Kelly Hayes-Raitt | August 3rd, 2012 | Comments No Comments

“A kingdom for a stage” indeed! I’d have killed for a seat. I wanted to experience Shakespeare as the “groundlings” had in his day: Standing in the “yard” at the foot of the stage. For only £5 (about $7.50US), I was captivated by Henry V. Jamie Parker masterfully played a young leader conflicted by the impact of his call to war against France. henry-v.jpgst-pauls.jpgIt’s a reflective reticence I wish we saw more often in today’s leaders. Performers were inches away from me; it’s an indescribable experience making eye contact with the actors.

But my body is older than I feel! Standing for 2 hours was rough on my back and craning up was tough on my shoulders. I return to the Globe Theatre ( next Thursday for Richard III – seated!groundling.jpg

From the Globe, I wandered over the Millennium bridge to St. Paul’s Cathedral, which usually charges an outrageous £15 to visit, but is open for free on Mondays and Fridays during the Olympics. An ostentatious church with an extensive crypt beneath, it reeks of wealth. (

My favorite thing at the cathedral, however, was a display of tapestries prepared by schoolchildren to celebrate the River Thames. (

From there, I joined my friend Des for a traditional pub dinner at Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Tavern, rebuilt in 1667. cheshire-cheese.jpgCharles Dickens and Samuel Johnson once graced this pub, located in the heart of the old “news” district. Apparently, many of the newspapers were located in this neighborhood, and pubs sprung up to keep the reporters in libations! Suffice it to say, I felt more spiritual here than in the cathedral!

Des toured me through Middle Temple Inns of Court, where lawyers and barristers have their offices and prepare for court appearances. I’ll have to go back to this area during a weekday, so I can stroll into the high court while it’s in session.
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