Off to Belgium via the Eurostar in a couple of days but first a romantic dinner with my husband at Gordon Ramsay’s at Claridges. We are staying in a beautiful Edwardian hotel in Bloomsbury and I must admit whilst the student accommodation has been great (especially for the price) I am tired of queing for the bathroom.
My investigations here have been a combination of archival research, immersion in place and strangely enough television! As there is no TV in my room I have been watching the BBC on my laptop and have had access to the plethora of historical documentaries that they make – absolutely brilliant! They ranged from Dr Lucy Worsley’s series about domestic rooms through to Dan Cruickshank’s lost country homes; all adding to my knowledge and understanding of 18th century society.
I am formulating an idea about Vauxhall, it came to me watching Much Ado About Nothing starring the most gorgeous David Tenannt (The best Dr Who ever!!!!) and the wonderful Catherine Tait (one of the Doctor’s companions) and it comes from one of Shakespeare’s lines: “All the world’s a stage”. It’s from a different play but hearing all that wonderful Shakespearian dialogue made it pop into my head. And there is an excellent episode of Dr Who where the Doctor and Martha (another companion) visit Shakespeare and the Doctor says: “all the world’s a stage” and Shakespeare quickly replies; “Oo I might use that.”
Looking into the line a bit more Shakespeare uses this quote as a metaphore for life and the seven stages or ages of man: infant, schoolboy, lover, soldier, justice, pantaloon, and second childhood. I think the Gardens could be examined in the same way. It occurs to me that the Vauxhall Gardens were a stage perhaps reflecting each phase of of the birth of Modernity.
Will keep you posted.