Last weekend we made our first trip of the new year…a long-overdue return to London! It had been more than 15 years since our last visit to London, which was, actually, the first trip my now-husband and I took together. After so many years, it was as if we were exploring the city for the first time.
The focal point for this trip was the theatre. Although I don’t know that “Book of Mormon” qualifies as theatre in everyone’s estimation, it certainly does in ours. We’d wanted to see “Book of Mormon” for years but never managed it, not on our visits to New York nor when the show came to Boston. It took a move to Europe and a flight to the UK to finally get us there! And it was worth the wait – it is clever and well-written, and very, very funny. Capped off with a late Chinese dinner (no ambiance, but great food), it made for a wonderful first day back in London.
The only other thing I really wanted to do was make a visit to the Churchill War Rooms. I struggle sometimes with art museums, but I really love museums that give me a view into history. The War Rooms did not disappoint in that regard. The exhibits demonstrate the activity of the early days of the war, and the tension and fear of the Blitz. The space itself – narrow, windowless hallways, cramped bedrooms – brings it all to life.
It is a fascinating place, made more so by the very human stories that filled the rooms for so long. And by the fact that, the day after V-E day, the lights were turned off – for the first time in 6 years – and the rooms were simply closed up, with everything left just as it was. Years later, sugar cubes left by RAF Officer John Heagerty were discovered, still in the envelope in which he hid them to prevent others from “borrowing” such a precious commodity.
The adjoining interactive exhibit about the life of Winston Churchill was also a joy for my nerdy little heart. If there was ever a man meant for a moment, it was Churchill. He was a singular person, fully aware of his role on the hinge of history. In his own words:
“I felt as if I were walking with destiny, and that all my past life had been but a preparation for this hour and this trial. I was sure I should not fail.”
Tremendous care, forethought, and commitment went into the creation of the Churchill War Rooms, and those who now have responsibility for the museum are carrying on in the same spirit.
So, thanks, London, for full and fulfilling weekend. To laugh, stroll, eat, learn, drink, (eat some more), and rediscover makes for a great return visit. Until next time…