Montag, 27. Oktober 2008

Stratford Day 2 Or: "So, do you know David Tennant?"

Hoppi and I get up at half past seven because breakfast is set at half past eight, and we both want to get showered until then. So while Hoppi is in the bathroom I switch on the telly to find that childrens' programmes in England seem to be as weird as in Germany. Until we are confronted with the baby tapir, the first animal we squee at in a long day of squeeing at animals.

Five minutes before breakfast time we knock on the door of room no. 5 where El and Kristy are still sorting themselves. We head downstairs, are greeted by Mrs Kim, and after some minutes I get my first English breakfast since my stay at the boarding school twelve years ago, where I decided to go for cereals in the morning for the whole week. So here it is: sausage, bacon, poached egg, hash brown, beans and toast to go with it. The sausage is really not my taste, and beans and what in Germany would be a variety of Kartoffelpuffer, seem a bit strange at first, too, but I am starved, so I dig in. And I even like it. (We should have taken a picture of that plate.)

We sit at the table for almost an hour, enjoying breakfast and chatting, before we head upstairs, get our things and go into town to find a way to get to Oxford. Going down Shipston Road we see the pear: a small pear impaled on a spike of the lovely metal fence underneath the tree. We have to take a picture. Next there is the hightech telephone box: Email, text and phone! All in one box! Seems a bit like a Tardis dressed in red. Later we try if it is really bigger on the inside, but we are mistaken. We pass over Tramway Bridge where El makes a ridiculous number of pictures of the swans, geese and other birds swimming on the Avon, squeeing at each of them. First we go to the bus station, then we realize we have to find out somewhere else when exactly the busses are leaving. Cultural difference number two of the day: the bus station not always has a sign saying what's its name and when which bus is going where. So we are sent to the tourist information, which we had already visited because one of us wanted to buy something. We go back and ask the lady at the counter how to get to Oxford today. She gets two leaflets containing train service information and marks the pages for us. We find out that there is really only one suitable train leaving Stratford that would get us on our way, and it has left already. Public transport on a Sunday. I am once more glad I decided to travel on Saturday already. So we postpone the trip to Oxford to the next day, and have a look at Stratford instead.

We head into town and find all shops open. We walk right into New Look, the equivalent of H&M just with cooler shirts. My problem of finding clothes I like continues even in another country; I try a couple of things but don't find anything until Hoppi shows me a shirt in just the right shade of purple that suits me and goes well with my scarf. I yell an enthusiastic "Mine, mine!" and find the shirt in my size. Prizes are reduced for students that day, so I get the shirt even a little cheaper. Good times.

We go on into town, squee at a lovely fluffy dog, and get to Shakespeare's Birthplace, a lovely old house. Next to it is the most disgusting building I have seen in Stratford so far. Unfortunately that is the Shakespeare Centre. Prices for admission to the birthplace are not too convincing to us at first either. So we go on down the street when I suddenly see something in a window. I just manage to stare and point and stammer "Da! Da! Da!" The window has a miniature AT-AT and a Dalek sitting on the shelf battling each other. Hoppi and El both take pictures and we briefly wonder if alleged fanboy Tennant lives there.

We go on and after circling the statue of the Fool at the end of the street decide to head out to Anne Hathaway's Cottage. We find the small way that cuts a direct way through Stratford to Shottery. We practically walk past peoples' gardens and squee at every cat and dog we come across. There is a particularly fluffy cat sitting on a shed first eyeing us, then turning its back on us. After a while the way leads over a patch of grass, and - OMG! - there is a fork in the road. Kristy says we go left, because there is a house that way that looks like it could be Anne Hathaway's Cottage. The way to the right on the other hand leads up to a sign that looks from afar like the others pointing to the cottage. We decide to go left anyways. We see a sign - we walk in the opposite direction. And of course we are wrong. So we trudge on, keep to the right and manage to find the way again. We pass a field with cows to squee at. Finally we reach the cottage. We figure out that actually the pass for all five Shakespeare houses is 13 pounds and is valid for a whole year. So we buy the pass, and a booklet along with it. The guy at the counter needs to see our student ids, and seeing that we come from abroad, he asks us why we are here. We explain that we have tickets for Love's Labour's Lost and Hamlet, and that's why we came. He pauses for 10 seconds and then asks "So do you know David Tennant?" We just burst with laughter, as our inner fangirls take over for a second and jump up and down. Having quieted down we explain that we know him from Doctor Who. We add that he probably is not very famous in Austria and Germany, but some people know him. Like us. Well. (BTW, one running gag of the whole trip: "Where are you from?" "Austria." - "And Germany!" hastily added by me. :ugly:)

So we enter the cottage and the lovely lady there explains to us that the house used to have only two rooms before more rooms were added. We find out later on that each of the Shakespeare houses focus on some different aspect; here we hear a lot about life in the sixteenth century, especially women's life, spiced up with the origins of sayings like being left on the shelf. Unmarried women slept up on a sort of shelf, so if you stayed unmarried you were left on the shelf. You simply have to love the English for idioms like that. The cottage is just lovely. If it had running water, I'd move right in. We even sit in the bay on first floor at the window. The garden of the cottage is so lovely; we wander off underneath the apple trees that are still laden with fruit which just seem to fall to the ground and rot away. What a waste we think, and Kristy briskly walks over to a tree, jumps and picks an apple, also dislodging a not very subtle cloud of leaves falling to the ground. We move away from the crime scene quickly, but no one comes after us. And really, it seems like such a waste. Part of me wishes to be hired as gardener here and being able to pick the apples and tend the trees and make hay of the grass.

We take the walk through the forest, which is long because it is winding and winding in endless turns through this patch of forest. Another funny bit: all trees are green on all sides. So no way of finding out which way is north. Finally we go back into the orchard and El steals another apple, this time with more stealth and without the rain of leaves. We spend some money at the first of the shops, I buy a pen, some postcards and a book with farmhouse recipes, which I intend to try out as soon as I've made a translation for the measures and weights used. We head back to town then, to find some more food. This time we follow the way which leads through a lane in Shottery (The Old Tramway? No that was the name of one of the inns.) with the cutest houses and gardens and everything. At one house stands a cart full of apples with a sign saying "Please take!" We take and take the time to write a "Thank you!" note. Back in town, we go to Marks and Spencers and buy sandwiches; then we head over to Sainsbury's and buy cup soup. We have a kettle and cups in our rooms after all. We go back to the B&B and devour our food; then after resting a while we go to Shakespeare's birthplace. Now that we have the pass for all five houses it is the most sensible thing to visit one more today.

Shakespeare's birthplace starts with a tour through the visitor centre where an exhibition tells the story of Shakespeare's life. Then we head over into the house. We are shown the glove-making shop (Shakespeare's father was a glove-maker and traded in wool, something that was a bit unusual at the time). I am particularly impressed with the heavy painted linen that covers the walls. It served as much as decoration as as isolation against the cold, creating another pocket of air between the wall and the linen. The beds we see are shorter than ours would be, not because people were smaller then, but because people slept sitting upright in bed. On the one hand they constantly suffered from respiratory infections, and sitting upright made it easier to breathe. On the other hand they believed only dead people would lie down and if they lay down to sleep the devil would come and snatch their soul away.

We head upstairs then. I have to say, it is rather weird to stand in the room Shakespeare was born in. I mean, I don't feel like the Japanese tourists the lady at Anne Hathaway's Cottage told us about, who kissed the floor upon which Shakespeare supposedly trod. The hushed air of history and significance that we create around these places is a bit strange to experience nonetheless. We go into the back wing next, a part of the house that was probably added when it was turned into an inn. We go back downstairs and then head into the garden. Awww, another beautiful garden with an astonishing tree at the end of it. We pass through the second shop where I buy the Shakespeare Insult Mug that already struck my fancy at Anne Hathaway's. How can I not be enchanted by something saying "I do desire we may be better strangers" or "You rampallian! You fustilarian!"? Next I decide to test the nice phone box and call home to tell my mom I survived the trip. After several tries I finally throw enough money into the phone to eventually get a call out of England. My mom is delighted to talk to me as I pop pound after pound into the telephone. As my coins draw to an end I try to say goodbye before the bloody phone cuts me off and --- don't succeed. I really don't like that.

We head off next to find the theatre. Not a big problem actually as Stratford really is a village. We pass the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and The Swan, which are both under construction, and walk on to The Courtyard Theatre which is closed today. Damn. And we thought we could stalk David Tennant check out the theatre and the shop. But the theatre seems always to be closed on Sundays, something completely new to me as I have to work most Sundays at the theatre. We go up the road towards Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare's grave is and haunt the graveyard just as it is getting dark. Standing at the door we hear singing and then the service being held, so we decide not to go in but listen for a little longer. I briefly wonder what kind of Church Holy Trinity is, being completely unfamiliar with the English Church system. In Germany it's Catholic or Protestant, and it's usually quite easy to tell which is which.

We leave after a while and decide to hit a pub. What else to do on a Sunday night? We find the Garrick's, a lovely old place. Kristy is sent to order cider for all of us (another ongoing thing of the trip, whenever we need asking something we usually wait until Kristy volunteers to ask someone), and we are told we have to wait a while to order some food. So we drink our cider and our conversation gets livelier and livelier as our cheeks get more and more flushed by that stuff that tastes like apple juice. After a while we order a bowl of chips for each of us. (After it has taken me quite a while to realize that chips are chips, not crisps. I really didn't imagine I would fall for that false friend. You are taught that in sixth grade.) We eat and chat and I notice that especially Hoppi is drifting more and more into Austrian accent. And that I start to pick up the accent as well. I mean, I am not bothered by that at all, but I'm always a bit afraid that people think I mimick them when I suddenly start to adopt their accent, but it's just what I do. I've been watching Scottish TV shows for the last three days and I start thinking in Scottish already.

So we chat when suddenly a deep booming voice behind me says "Excuse me, but we were wondering what language you are speaking." One of the four people at the next table has addressed us. He adds "We have considered a lot of things, even Latvian." The Austrians laugh out loud at the idea of speaking Latvian, and I explain that they speak Austrian German at which the guy on the left reveals himself to have won the bet. We chat for a while about why we are at Stratford. They tell us about the Music Festival that has just ended today and tell us that they were singing earlier at Holy Trinity. We tell them that we were there, but only heard them from the outside. What a coincidence. It is one of the funniest chats though. They say something to me that I don't understand (three times) only to find out that it is Brahms pronounced in English. The booming voice says to me "So if you don't know Brahms you are Liszt?" I understand that I am the butt of the joke here, but I don't understand the joke. The booming voice kindly explains it is rhyming slang. No matter how good my English is, rhyming slang is simply beyond everything. :ugly: But it is funny though. After introducing us to "the local witch" and talking about the weather (Stratford lies in a sort of pocket for good weather, and it has all something to do with the moon and the water, and the cider is slightly blurring my memory here), the booming voice, the witch and the other guy leave. The winner of the competition moves over and buys us another halfpint of cider. We find out that he has been living in Austria, having a job there which is why he knew the language. We chat and after finishing our cider call it a night. As we walk home we laugh about the coincidence of meeting some of the people we have been listening to earlier. I think Hoppi and I watch Graham Norton before we turn off the TV and fall asleep, and agree once more that British television (well especially Graham Norton) tends to be a lot more respectless and funny than German television.

4 Kommentare:

arodir hat gesagt…

"We eat and chat and I notice that especially Hoppi is drifting more and more into Austrian accent."
Up to here I didn't think you were talking German. :ugly:

Milui hat gesagt…

"... but I'm always a bit afraid that people think I mimick them when I suddenly start to adopt their accent, but it's just what I do."

Jap, same here. Sprecht mit mir Tirolerisch, Schweizerisch - und ich bin sofort drinnen und nehme Aussprache und Vokabular an. Prinzipiell eh toll, aber ich frag mich immer, ob sich nicht die Leute dann veralbert vorkommen ...

Purslane hat gesagt…

@ Arodir: Oh. :ugly: Erm, yes, we talked German.

@ Milui: Eigentlich ist das auch eine normale Sache, dass man die Sprachweise der Leute annimmt, die man vor sich hat. Sozialer Mechanismus und so. Doof ist eben nur, wenn man die Sprach noch nicht so richtig kann. :ugly:

Kristina hat gesagt…

oh, don't worry, I'm fine with being the errand girl :-) (though you shouldn't trust my geographical guesses, as we have seen...haha!)

@ accent: well, to me you still sounded German, so I certainly didn't feel offended -- I think you're safe as long as you don't try Austrian DIALECT :-P