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Archive for the ‘cities’ Category

 


Shrunken Head?

Is this a shrunken head or just a severed head? I’m kicking myself now for not having bought it. How would I have explained him at the airport?

I have a collection of various tribal artifacts. The supposed head would have been made in Hong Kong, but it would go just fine on the wall next to this great big Congo mask that I’ve got – I call it Hannibal the Cannibal because it has a mouth of jagged teeth.

On the subject of tribal, check out my malagan mask (I’ts real)

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Mad man yodels out a turkey call

I can’t be sure of the story behind this fellow, but I was sitting waiting for Maggie in a square off one of the main streets in Chester and in the distance I heard this sound like a wild turkey; everyone around me was looking, wondering what it was … and again the sound; it was this sort of crazy cackling – warbling noise. It just kept getting closer.

Finally this fellow sprinted past, looping back he returned to leap up and down, flapping his elbows like he was trying to fly and yodeling out a wild turkey noise.

I couldn’t be sure whether he was serious or not. We locked gazes and I wondered if I was in for a pecking???  I only had time to snap this hurried picture and then he seemed distracted by something in the distance. Unexpectedly the turkeyman dashed off in a crazy zig zag sprint dodging between startled pedestrians, half crouched over, flapping and leaping, but in vain, everyone knows turkeys aren’t so graceful –  in fact they barely fly. The last I heard of the warbler was his deranged turkey call fading in the distance.

Oh turkey man, from whence did you come and where did you go?

Does anyone know the deal?

Does he do this for money?

Is he a drama student?

Somebody who likes attention?

Just plain off his rocker?

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Church and coffin in Chester Sandstone – Chester

Just recently Maggie and I had spent the day walking around the walls of the ancient Roman city of Chester – the town from which her father came and in which her mother had worked as a nurse. Apparently the two of them met when her father was choking after an appendix operation and her mother applied her nursing skills.

We had visited Chester some twenty years ago and had stayed in a bed and breakfast down on the banks of the River Dee.

This ruin was situated above Chester’s Roman Wall and it is part of the structure of the church of Saint John the Baptist. Set up into the wall there is a most unusual feature – a medieval coffin of solid oak. It looks like the coffin was cut from a solid tree trunk and inside it is inscribed “ashes to ashes.”

Nobody really knows the exact story behind the coffin but there are many theories – everything from, “it was bought from gypsies,” to “somebody dug it up while digging another grave.”

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Priscilla Queen of the Desert – London – West End

As a movie Priscilla became a cult classic in Australia and the UK.

I’m not sure why, but Australians have this thing about ritzy performances in the roughest places – like ballroom dancing in a barn, or this documentary that I once saw of a black tie gala that was preceded by tuxedo’d men who were tearing around in dusty old pickups very drunk and cursing. Next morning it looked like there had been a battle with comatose Ozzies scattered across a torn up field amongst shreds of finery, bottles everywhere.

Priscilla became so much a part of Australian popular culture that in the closing ceremonies of the 2000 Olympic games, a bus with a stiletto atop drove around the Olympic stadium with numerous transvestites in tow.

Having enjoyed this incredible show in London, the cast came forward for their bow and Don Gallagher, the most serious of the characters (Bernadette) spoke about the need for charity and that profit from that week was being donated to some cause (I can’t remember what).

As we left we were were asked to contribute what we could to the cause. I pulled out my donation which was not large (considering the restricted cash flow issue), but I was prepared to drop it in the hat or whatever.

In following the crowd we suddenly found ourselves outside on the street in front of the poster and without an opportunity to contribute. I must admit, the show had been so fantastic and the appeal was so heartfelt that I was truly disappointed that we had somehow missed the opportunity to give.

Anyway, what you see behind Maggie are some of the main characters, the million dollar bus and the 3 angels – red hair spiked up high with the incredible voices.

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Priscilla; Queen of the Desert – Palace Theater – London

After the disaster with the Visa that didn’t work, our unbelievably generous relatives sprung for theater tickets for what they suggested “Mick needs to give a chance as its really quite good.” Looks like the tickets were 65 pounds apiece which put us on the floor near the front.

The nearest tube station was Leicester Square and emerging up the stairs we found ourselves in the noisy carnival of people, lights and entertainment that is London’s West End theater district. Everywhere there were booths that were selling half price tickets. The best prices were on matinees – things like Stomp, Chicago, Billy Elliot and yes – even Priscilla.

The theater itself – the Palace Theater – was built in the 1880s and when the freehold was purchased in 1983 by Andrew Lloyd Weber they removed the paint to discover incredible onyx and marble panels.

Priscilla is the name of the bus in which 3 entertainers travel across the outback, headed for Alice Springs to perform at a casino that is run by the wife of one of these colorful fellows. Actually the entertainers are transvestites – highly talented as dancers I might add. What makes it a musical is that they lip sync the Supremes. The actual musical begins with 3 angels – well sort of angels – dropping down from the ceiling, they have phenomenal voices and the level of sound grows to quite an overwhelming volume.

Priscilla somehow spins on stage, lights up as though by pixels as every square inch is possibly lit by a light bulb or some kind of illusion to make it appear that way. Half the bus is cut away and part of the drama takes place as they are driving and you see the inside of the bus in cross section – and of course there is that fantastic scene from the movie where one of these fellows is atop the bus (in this case sitting in the stiletto that is pictured above) with silk train blowing out behind. Moving from its position atop the bus the stiletto somehow slides right out over the audience.

One thought though, I can’t imagine why some people took their children – it is certainly not for the younger audience.

All in all, that was money well spent, it was very funny and high energy.  Maggie and I are considering going in Toronto some time within the next few weeks to see how the Canadian talent compares.

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P1040854, originally uploaded by Mic2006.

We were walking by the front of the National Gallery and this madman – unmoving until Maggie passed by, did this.

Well aside from the shock and obligation of dropping a pound in the box, our visit to the National Gallery was amazing.

In London, most museums and galleries are free (as it should be). Sadly I missed the “dead Italian guy” who was said to be on display in a museum near St. Pancreas. The security guard at the national library sent us in that direction as I declined to unpack my backpack for a search; he said it was nothing to be embarrassed about. I said I just could not be bothered to lay out my underwear and whiskey bottles to see the medieval manuscripts they had -honestly, the hassle vs. reward didn’t justify the effort (but I understand their need for security and they were very courteous as they were everywhere in London).

At the National Gallery we were immediately immersed in the fantastic paintings of Caravaggio, Van Gogh, Cezanne and others of their fame. there was nothing posted about not taking pictures, but I thought it safest to not try anything like that in case I got arrested. There are over 2300 paintings which are said to be one of the greatest collections of Western European paintings in the world. It was kind of odd standing about 2 feet from what I only usually see in books.

The National Gallery in London sits at one end of Trafalgar Square. You can get there quite easily from Charing Cross or Leicester Square – just walk toward the statue of Nelson, which rises up atop a column. If the gallery is not your thing, then people watching might be. I got some great photos of tourists posing with the lions.

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Life Guards – London

No visit to London is complete without some pomp and ceremony. I took this picture outside the building known as “Horse Guards”. These fellows in red are the life Guards – not the swimming kind (their cuirasses would drag them down). As one tourist in the know explained, “They stand there facing each other (blues and Royals vs Life Guards) for about half an hour and then they have changed the guard.”

As you can see it was a good picture taking opportunity.

The life Guards (in red and the blues and Royals in blue) both comprise regiments in the Household Cavalry, an actual functioning light armored formation of the British Army. When not on ceremonial duty, the Household Cavalry performs a reconnaissance function in a combat brigade; dress uniform is replaced by camouflage, swords by assault rifles.

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