And so yesterday we rose early, well early for a Sunday anyway, and prepared for our day out. I managed to see a little of the start of the Australian Open men’s final as we got ready, but it was obviously not going to be Andy Murray’s day. Still 74 years and counting since the last British male winner of a Grand Slam tennis tournament! Maybe this year at Wimbledon or the US Open? Time will tell. Anyhoo, I was talking about our trip.... We left home about 9:45 which should have left us plenty of time to catch the train up to Paddington, but unfortunately we had forgotten to bring enough coins to pay for the parking while we were gone and so had to turn back towards the Yellow House after 5 minutes and go all the way back to get some more. This meant that our time window for catching the train was getting very narrow indeed! So, it was a race into town to go and get parked, and then a mad dash to the train station as the time ticked away. We arrived breathless at the station just as the tannoy announced that our train was waiting at the platform. So we ran again up the steps to the platform and jumped on the train, relieved that we had made it in time.
The journey into London was much more relaxed! We always enjoy travelling this way, as you don’t have to worry about the driving, or the other idiots who drive like crazy, or about getting parked at the other end. As the old adverts used to say here, we “let the train take the strain”. :-) Once we had arrived we headed towards the tube station. Normally we would take the tube all the way to the O2, but unfortunately the line that goes there was shut for engineering works yesterday, as were a lot of other routes. So we had to be very inventive with how we got to Greenwich. We took the tube to London Bridge (via Elephant & Castle) and then walked over to London Bridge pier in order to catch a Thames Clipper – a catamaran river-taxi – that took us all the way to the O2.
This trip on the river, although once again on a very cold day, was much more comfortable than the one I spoke of previously as we were inside this time and not sat freezing our wotsits off on the top deck! Here are a couple of videos that Dori took on our trip from London Bridge to Greenwich. The first shows the approach to Tower Bridge...
And this second one gives an idea of what it is like to travel the Thames. You get to see a mixture of old and new buildings, as well as some old industrial buildings that have been converted to new luxury apartments. The skyscrapers you can see in the background towards the end of the video are at Canary Wharf which is the modern centre of London’s financial district.
It was a very enjoyable half-hour trip along the river, and we agreed that we will have to do this again sometime in the summer.
We arrived quite quickly at Queen Elizabeth II pier just alongside the O2, disembarked and made our way over to the arena. After the rush earlier in the day, we now found ourselves with a little time to kill before our allotted time to enter the exhibition came round. Sadly not quite long enough to grab something to eat though! There are some great restaurants at the O2, many of which we have yet to sample. Before we knew it though, our time had arrived and we made our way into the exhibition.
The MJ Memorabilia Exhibition was just great. There were so many personal items there, as well as films, photographs and paintings of the great man. It was so sad to see some of the footage of Michael, and to see the little sandwich boxes that his children used to pack for him when he was in rehearsal for “This Is It”. But there were plenty of uplifting exhibits too, such as his handwritten lyrics to “Beat It”, plenty of his stage clothes and some items taken from Neverland. We were in there for a little over an hour but the time flew by – a sure sign that you are having a good time!
The exhibition was fantastic,and I felt that it was fitting that we got to see it at the venue of what would have been his comeback concerts, and indeed what was the site of his final public appearance in the UK. We would both so dearly loved to have seen MJ in concert here, and judging from everything I have seen both in the exhibition and in the “This Is It” movie, those shows were going to be something out of this world. Nothing could make up for missing out on that experience, but visiting this exhibition has gone a long way to healing some wounds and helping me to reconcile that some things are just not meant to be. The world lost a kind and gentle soul last June – a true Legend.
For Dori's view of our day out and of the exhibition, click here.