So, our plan, and it was a good one, was to go to V Fest, where I would fulfill my teenage dreams and see Duran Duran live for the first time. Since Mama didn’t let me go to their 1984 show in Baton Rouge just because it was a school night. Not that I’m bitter. The tickets were outrageously priced, because Eminem and Rhianna were playing on the same day, but you really can’t put a price tag on realizing a dream, can you? We missed out on the original release of tickets, but we just planned on getting some when more were released closer to the day.

What I would have seen in 1984.

The only thing was, the festival was being held in Wolverhampton, which Craig reckoned wouldn’t hold our attention for long. So, he pulled out a map and decided that a night in Stratford would be more interesting. Then we could just head over to the festival site at some point in the afternoon. No problem. He booked us a hotel in each town and got us the last pair of tickets to MacBeth at the RSC that night. So far, so good.

Then, Simon LeBon got some throat trouble and they cancelled all English dates for the summer. So, we talked it over. At length. Finally, we decided that the replacement band (I am Kloot) was not worth the 300-odd pounds the tickets would cost. So, now we had a non-refundable room in Wolverhampton but nothing to do there.

We bounced a few ideas around, including heading into London for the day so Craig could try to get a ticket to the cricket. Once we got to Stratford, though, we realized there was plenty to do and stayed there an extra night.


Even crappy fast food looks charming in Stratford.


The opposite of Graceland. Except for the long lines for overpriced tickets.

We got checked in to the Premier Inn, which markets itself like an English Motel 6, but is quite decent, and headed down the street to the theater. I was a little worried, because we had front row seats at the end, but they were great. The theater is U-shaped, so the stage juts out and the seats surround it. We enjoyed ourselves so much, that we decided to see another play the next afternoon. Unfortunately, the Midsummer Night’s Dream tickets were sold out, so we settled on The Homecoming


The Homecoming. We had good seats, anyway.


The cast was largely filled with the main actors from MacBeth, but that was really not enough. I’m sure it was a racy, edgy play when it was first performed, but in the intervening decades, it has just become odd. A man shows up at his family’s home in the middle of the night after a nine year absence with his wife. His father basically accuses his wife of being a hooker, for no apparent reason. Then, equally without reason, she makes out with both of her brothers-in-law and decides to stay there with them after her husband leaves. At this point, we learn that one brother is a pimp and he and the father decide that she can go to work for him to support herself. What?! (Note: my summary is very different from the one in the review I linked above- that person actually seems to have enjoyed the play.)

We left the theater feeling like we’d been cheated out of a few hours of our lives and headed down to the river for a boat tour. We found one and we ended up being the only passengers. As we passed some jam-packed boats, we got quite a few jealous looks. The tour guide told us that the other tour boats didn’t even have guides, so these people were packed in like sardines to look at the scenery. The scenery was quite  nice, but it was much more enjoyable learning about the history of the town and having some “Shakespearean” sites pointed out.

Our reward for venturing a little further afield from the other boat tours: a private tour.

During the plague, people would sit on the wall, hoping to fall of hallowed ground when they died. Or else the tour guide was making it up as he went along.

Next on the itenerary: back to Teesside for Sunday dinner, then off to Whitby.