My cover

My cover
Nell and her oranges

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Hitting the ground running....

Ack! I've only been here a few days and already behind on my writing!

I arrived Saturday afternoon and my friend Donna took me back to her place in Brockley. A nap, a bit of curry with her and Alison, and to bed.

Sunday afternoon was the wedding bash of our dear friend Laura and her new husband David - they got married in a civil service on July 17. They're both professional musicians, so Laura's Big Band played - and she sat in on the sax for a few numbers - photo attached (I hope!)

It was a case of being plunged immediately into my past life here - in some ways I can't believe I've been gone two years, in others it feels like I've never left. The wedding reception was at Calder's Wharf Community Center, right near the entrance to the Greenwich foot tunnel on the Isle of Dogs side, just down the street from the building where I lived for almost a year and a half, my old local the Lord Nelson pub, the 1903 firehouse that ceased to function as a firehouse while I was there and has since been converted to flats, and around the corner from the homes of Laura, Tim, Clare, Si, Cath...

Monday was a day to get organized - get my UK cell phone up and running, etc. In the evening, I went with Alice and Tim to the National Theatre and saw a really fantastic production of Middleton's (or was it Turner?) "Revenger's Tragedy." More or less modern dress, but somewhat stylized, with swords and daggers. Great set - turntable in the center - divided by scrims and passages into three crescent-shaped scenes - painted with lurid and classical scenes. Lots of intense and explicit sex and violence, as befits the show. Very good actors pretty much all around. (

Yesterday (Tuesday), I had my first research appointment at the Victoria & Albert Museum ( -- actually, at their archives at Kensington Olympia. They had already gotten out for me the biographical files on Nell Gwynn and her friend and fellow actor John Lacey. Went through those and then the box on Drury Lane Theatre for the period 1663-1674. They mostly contained newspaper clipppings, copies of portraits, and anything remotely related to Nell Gwynn -- for instance 1920's cigarette cards or ads depicting her as a flapper orange wench!

I didn't really learn anything new, but did find some pictures of Nell's home at 79 Pall Mall and the one in Windsor, and it was very interesting to see what they had. And there is a wealth of other documents, book, etc., which I'll have a look at today.

Perhaps the most exciting thing to see was an original 4-page pamphlet from 1679, rather a cruel satire on the death of Nell's mother, who drowned, probably drunk, in a ditch or fish pond. I knew of it and had read excerpts, but holding the actual thing in my hand was something else...

The archives lets you photocopy items more recent than 1932. Anything else you can only take photos. So I was very pleased to find that my new iPhone takes such great pictures -- and allows you to zoom in closely enough -- that the pictures I took of this pamphlet are actually completely legible!

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