Monday 31 January 2000
Highlights: War Cabinet, West End Show (‘Les Miserables’), Harrods, House of Commons.
Jon was still suffering from acute jet-lag and wasn’t a happy camper when my alarm went off at 8.45 am.
Today we started with a visit to the underground War Cabinet (1940-1945). The whole complex was setup as it appeared in late 1940 when it was first used. The audio tour included information on the London Blitz, newspaper articles about possible German ground invasions, instructions on gas attacks, and personal letters either sent from or to War Time Prime Minister Winston Churchill.
It is hard to imagine the feelings of the people who occurred this small bunker in the first two years of the war, when they stood virtually alone in Western Europe, facing almost certain invasion and quite probable defeat. The audio re-enactment were sometimes chilling. Churchill’s speeches broadcast on BBC radio were very moving, the world owes Britain a huge debt for their stand in World War 2 no matter what else the British Empire did before or afterwards.
We then headed for the spiritual head of upper class shopping, Harrods. The whole department store is pure class, with great displays, including one for the late Diana Princess of Wales. However the prices are unbelievably high, even for London they are crazy, I guess that is how they afford the upper class feel.
The House of Commons was next on the agenda and we were lucky enough to visit when it was in session. We got to witness a second reading debate and the difference between this and in Australia was stark in particular the courtesy shown to each speaker. The main chamber can not even hold all the members of Parliament making it a very enclosed atmosphere which helps create fascinating debates with a big feel.
What better way to finish the night than a musical. We paid 12.50 pounds to experience ‘Les Miserables’ an excellent production in the West End Theatre district. The story is very moving and involved.
Exhausted from the long day and still struggling with jetlag we fell asleep the moment we hit our beds.