People Watch at Trafulgar Square
Excerpt from the book On a Tall Budget and Short Attention Span from the Teresa the Traveler Series.
On day seven I rode the tube down the West End, London’s theatre district, to see if I could find a discount ticket to a show later in the evening. I discovered a booth selling tickets for half the box office price and bought one for Stomp; a unique show about eight men and women using a variety of junkyard items to make music. The show had done North American and European tours even performing at the opening of the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas in 2007.
Ticket in hand, I had a few hours to kill before the performance so I decided to explore London’s answer to Broadway: the West End. Not only is it the largest shopping district in Europe, it’s the home of England’s film industry along with numerous up-scale bars, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs. The area, which was long favored as a residential area by the rich elite because it was upwind of the smoky crowded city, is located west of the historic Roman and Medieval city of London hence the name West End.
As I wandered aimlessly, I stumbled upon Trafalgar Square – one of the most famous squares in the United Kingdom. Used as a site for political demonstrations as well as celebrations such as New Year’s Eve, the square was named after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, a naval battle won by the British during the Napoleonic Wars.
A fleet of 27 British ships led by Admiral Lord Nelson aboard the HMS Victory defeated a line of 33 French and Spanish ships just west of Cape Trafalgar in Spain. The French and Spanish lost 22 ships while not a single British ship was sunk. The battle, which confirmed Britain’s naval supremacy, cost Lord Nelson his life – he was mortally wounded in combat.
Nelson’s Column, towering over Trafalgar Square, was built in the 1840’s to commemorate Admira Lord Nelson’s death. It sits on a square pedestal covered with four bronze panels made out of guns captured from the French. They depict Nelson’s four great victorious battles: Trafalgar, the Nile, Copenhagen and the Cape of St. Vincent.
As curtain time approached, I made my way to the Vaudeville Theatre and watched Stomp rock the house before taking the tube back to Victoria Station and meeting the tall, handsome South African security guard for a nightcap.