Wednesday, December 21, 1988

London, "Chess," and Terror in the Air ...

Today started out to be a fabulous day, but it ended tragically for passengers aboard a plane bound from London to New York.

I woke up later than I expected, and since J.P. stayed in Brighton last night, Viv and I decided to go into London on our own today. Sid travelled with us on the train for part of the journey. After arriving at Victoria Station and finding a bank, we went to Buckingham Palace, because Viv had never seen it, and I've never seen it when there wasn't a huge crowd surrounding it. Since it was not near the time for the Changing of the Guard, we got a pretty good look at the palace.

It was after 1 p.m. when we got back on the Tube bound for the Tower of London. We spent about two hours there, taking the guided tour and hearing all of the fascinating stories about the torture, imprisonment and execution that go along with the Tower. It was quite interesting, and I wished we had more time to spend there to explore everything in greater detail. We did manage to see the Crown Jewels, and there was no queue, which was a pleasant surprise, since its not unusual to have to stand in line for a considerable amount of time to see the jewels.

It was getting dark, and we were getting hungry. Plus, we were hoping to get tickets to see the musical "Chess," a show I have wanted to see for a long time. So shortly before 4 p.m. we left the Tower and headed to Leicester Square, where after another stop at the bank, we went to a kiosk and purchased tickets for "Chess" - at half price, no less!

So it was £22 for Viv and I, total, in row AA... wow! Now at first, I figured that "AA" meant we were in the first row after "Z" (zed). So I was fully prepared to watch the show from the 27th row.

There was still time before the show started, so we went to eat a delicious Mexican meal at Chi Chi's. It was Viv's first Mexican dinner, actually, which was a bit surprising to me, considering Spanish is part of her major. But I guess Spain and Mexico are two very different things. She enjoyed the meal.

Then we walked around Leicester Square a bit more, taking in the sights and sounds of London: the street bums, the buskers, the mimes, and the shops. After walking through the city for awhile, we returned to the theater at around 6.40, 50 minutes before the show started. We went in to the bar, had some drinks, and then took our seats. Turns out, I was wrong about "AA" being the 27th row.

They were front row seats. FRONT ROW! That was an awesome revelation. I thought it was a fantastic show. I love the music, the story is intriguing, and the acting was superb. In one of the scenes the actors threw out these foam "Chess" frisbees, and I managed to grab one of them. I'm not sure Viv enjoyed the show quite as much as I did, but she said she liked it.

When the show was over, we hopped back on the Tube to Victoria Station, and then caught the train back to Longfield.

Pan Am Flight 103 Disaster

Tired and happy from our day's activity, we relaxed on the train ride back to Sid's house. But as we were riding, we learned some very distressing news from another passenger who was reading a late edition of the newspaper. Earlier this evening there was a plane crash in Scotland. We took a look at the newspaper, and there weren't too many details as of yet.

It was a Pan Am 747 jet that left Heathrow, heading to JFK airport in New York. It apparently exploded in the air and when it came down it devastated part of Lockerbie, a small Scottish town.

My first thought was worry for Doug. But after thinking it through, I realized that Doug couldn't have possibly been on that plane, since he flew out two days ago. Whew, and thank God he did!

But then, after we got off the train and walked back to Sid's house, we were reminded that our friend Bits was flying over to America today with her family, and we had no idea what flight they were taking. Hopefully we'll find out soon if she's OK. This is just awful.

Yet another British disaster before Christmas. Coincidentally, we were traveling near the site of last week's Clapham Junction train crash when we learned about the plane crash. Flight 103 left Heathrow at 6.25 p.m., and the disaster happened about a half hour later... right about the time Viv and I were waiting for "Chess" to begin.

I'm starting to wonder if this is a safe place to be right now.

No comments: