First thing I did today was to buy a discount ticket at the tkts booth in Leicester Square. There was a line of about 20 people when I got there at 10:20 am. I managed to get a ticket for Les Miserables, 10th row from the stage, for just 39 pounds! Hooray!
I spent the rest of the morning walking the major commercial streets – Piccadilly Circus, Regent Street and Oxford Street. Bought some clothes and shoes. Visited Hamley’s, the world’s largest toy store, and Apple Store, the world’s largest grown-up toy store. Lunch was scones and Victoria sponge cake at Marks & Spencer.
In the afternoon, I went to the Imperial War Museum in Lambeth North.
The museum’s name might give the impression that it glorifies Britain’s military history. It does not.
One exhibition shows the dreadful life on a WW2 submarine:
This is a smell you won’t forget:
The Children’s War exhibition tells the life of children, including those escaping from Europe, during wartime Britain. Poison gas was a constant threat and there were gas masks for children of all ages, including infants:
Some of them died because they picked the wrong toy:
Others didn’t even survive the journey:
An old gentleman was there to answer question about his experience as a child during war. I think that’s a brilliant idea.
This is a recreation of a WW1 trench. Even the stench is simulated:
There’s no better way to condemn war by showing war as it is, which is what I think this museum does.
The museum also sells some very cool gifts including rationing cookbooks. Funniest of all are the “Sod Calm and Get Angry” objects which parody the famous “Keep Calm and Carry On” WW2 poster. But why is the “Get Angry” poster in the calming colour of blue, and the “Keep Calm” poster in the agitating colour of red?
There was still some time before the musical so I had dinner at Mr. Wu in China Town. It was an “all-you-can-eat” Chinese buffet so authenticity was out of the question. It even had chips and curry. Curry must be the true global food; the British have chicken tikka masala, the Japanese have katsu-kare and now even Chinese buffet serves curry.
After dinner, I crossed the street to Queen’s Theatre where I watched Les Miserables:
Much has been said about this famous musical so I won’t bore you with all the superlatives. I just want to say that I’d never watched any musical before and now I know why people are so crazy about them. I won’t hesitate to pay the full price to see other musicals, or even Les Mis again.
The songs resonated in my head as I walked back to Piccadilly Circus in the chilly drizzle, humming “Do You Hear the People Sing” unconsciously, and trying to ignore the bewildered looks from other passers-by.