Who makes a city?

London We finally had an evening at the theatre on this trip. Along with our friends June and Alan, we saw the premier of a new play by David Hare: “Straight Line Crazy.”

The play was performed at the Bridge Theatre, aptly named for its location at the foot of Tower Bridge. It is a very well-made play, starring Ralph Fiennes, who did an outstanding job of bringing the career of New York’s Robert Moses to life.

Robert Moses had his own very specific and unyielding view of how a city should function, just one example of which is the reason one can’t get to Manhattan from New York airports via easy public transport. Cars were his starting point and the middle class was his public. He was indeed “straight line crazy,” and never dreamed of a day when public transportation would become a hero, and pollution and congestion become a curse.

It’s ironic to have seen this play here, where few straight lines rule, but where every turn can delight. A city grid may be useful, but it offers few surprises or opportunities to tuck in quixotic charms from every era of the city’s life.

Take the view from the theatre. What a delightful melange of buildings, from the Tower of London to the Shard, the Gherkin, the Walkie-Talkie, London City Hall, and the noble bridge itself, along with all the converted warehouses and formerly industrial buildings in the area (which would have been torn down by Moses). The old, the new, the straight, the crooked, together they create the sense of richness and vibrancy lacking in so many cities.

Don’s Food Corner

We went to a Pizza Express before the performance. For the uninitiated, Pizza Express is a chain of, well, pizza places that seem to be on nearly every corner.

They make a reliable pizza at reasonable prices. June, Alan and I had pizzas. Jo went rogue and had lasagna. The pizzas were not the kind you could find in Naples, but on the bright side, neither were they what we were served in Norwich. I have no idea how the lasagna tasted, since I was not offered any sample. (When are these people going to learn?)

The blow was softened by a shared salted caramel cheesecake topped with candied popcorn and some strawberry gelato.

3 thoughts on “Who makes a city?

  1. Thank you, Jo, for your beautifully written love letter to this fine city, Seeing it through fresh eyes makes us appreciate it all the more!

  2. The London Visitor Bureau should read this blog if for no other reason than to pump up their ego or maybe quote. Well done.

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