9 October 2009--Got to bed quite late last night, and don't feel very energetic this morning. I hang around
the room for a few hours, diddling on the laptop. Once out, I consider going to visit the Shakespeare birthplace, but decide
to put it off for tomorrow. Take a walk along the far side of the river instead, in a light drizzle. Once I'm
out on open ground, far from shelter, it of course turns into a steady rain.
I cross back over at the next bridge, and then visit Stratford's Trinity Church. Shakespeare is buried within, but there is a lot of work going on in the building, and the sanctuary, where the tomb is, is closed just now. I can see it through the locked iron lattice, but the memorial bust, on the wall above, is obliquely out of sight.
Up the street, closer to town and just across from the main theater (which itself is in the midst of a major renovation), is a pub called the Dirty Duck, famed as the hangout of actors after the show. And before. And sometimes during. "Dirty Duck", it turns out, is a nickname given by the patrons at some indeterminate time in the past, a play on the original name, the Black Swan. The walls are covered with signed and framed 8 x 10 glossies, lots of folks we Yanks would never recognize, but also Burton, Gielgud, Dench, and others. It's quiet in here just now, late in the afternoon, and I'm alone in the lounge with my pint and the stars.
Back up town, I purchase a bottle of whisky, a Highland Park, to serve as the last roadie of my trip. I've thought twice about it, as I only have six nights left. Well, I have some two-ounce sample bottles with me, and can fill a few of them if I need to.
Dinner and pints at the Old Thatch, a pub which is a) old, and b) thatched, in fact the last remaining thatched roof in central Stratford. The material was outlawed as a fire hazard long ago, and, to underscore the point, all of the other remaining thatched-roof buildings in town have long since burned down. As I linger over my beer, I wonder what modern measures are taken to protect this last one, and others like it throughout England.
I don't linger too long. I'm sitting near the door to the outdoor beer garden, and there's a parade of kids going in and out, nearly non-stop, this Friday evening. One young woman, wearing heels apparently designed to make maximum noise on wooden floors, goes back and forth so frequently that I conclude she has a kidney problem. Either that, or she's running drugs. In any case, I decide that it's time to go get a good start on that bottle.