The South Bank of the Thames used to be a rather grungy area of the city. When theatre was banned from the City of London in the Renaissance, the theatres simply moved across the river. South Bank Centre grew up around the Royal Festival Hall, built in the 1950s, and the renewal of the area has been amazing. It is now the home of the Royal National Theatre complex, the National Film Theatre, and a host of other attractions.
London Eye and London Aquarium
The London Eye is my personal pet peeve about London and tourists. It’s a giant ferris wheel. That’s all it is. A *giant* ferris wheel. The cars are enclosed and supposedly one gets a great view of London. I don’t care. It really annoys me and I think it’s hideous. Behind it is the London Aquarium. Such a nice looking building so horribly hidden by that monstrosity that brings scads of stupid tourists into the area. The building was once the County Hall, but it was vacated in the 1970s. Behind it runs a pedestrian area with a few takeaway places. My beloved Ned’s Noodle Box is back in there.
Royal National Theatre Complex
Ah, the RNT. Home of some of the best productions I’ve seen in London for really small prices. There are three theatres in the complex, now divided into something like three and a half, maybe? The Olivier replicates a greek amphitheatre with a round thrust and famous drum revolve. The Lyttelton was a smaller proscenium theatre, but they’ve now divided out the circle and turned it into a small space like the Cottesloe (I’m confused, and the site seems to imply that they put it all back to normal). The Cottesloe is a small black-box theatre with an upper gallery along three sides and completely moveable seating on the floor. Vincent in Brixton made me a fan of the Cottesloe. I’ve sadly never been in the Lyttelton.
RNT Courtyard, seen from Waterloo Bridge
The courtyard is predominantly taken up by this large sculpture. Behind it, a few steps lead down to an equally large, flat area where events are staged in summer. The walkway along the embankment is quite wide and so people consider the sculpture as being a part of the sidewalk. This is important because of the Nick Holder story. So now you can see precisely what the Nick Holder story entails.
The Nick Holder story (copied from my journal, 19 February 2002): Last night, I’m walking home from Her Majesty’s Theatre, past the RNT complex. It was after six-thirty, I knew that much crossing Waterloo Bridge. As I come to the weird sculpture thing out front, I cut through it and wait a second by one of the “rocks” to stay out of the way for a bicycle going past. As I continue on, another bicycle comes past, being ridden by a stocky guy, probably middle aged, wearing a dark stocking cap. It’s damned dark over there, and I couldn’t see his face. He says “Good evening” to me, and me not knowing who that random guy was, is thinking, but not saying “Jesus, I’m not in your way, and I’m hardly dressed so as to be hit on, either!” when it suddenly strikes me that the voice is familiar. I check my watch -- it’s about ten minutes prior to the half-hour call for South Pacific. The tone was polite, and not directed at anyone else, including the people behind me who were in earshot. The voice, which was rather higher pitched than I expected, seemed very much like a former London Thénardier.
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