Theatre Royal – Drury Lane – London

The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, Catherine Street, WC2B 5JF, is an un-air conditioned theatre in Covent Garden, in Westminster, London’s, West End. The current theatre building is actually the most recent of four theatres that have been located in the same spot since 1663, and this makes the Theatre Royal the oldest theatre in London. The current building was listed Grade I in February 1958 by English Heritage.

The first incarnation of the theatre came to light after the Puritan Interregnum, which was an 11-year ban on “frivolous” pastimes, including theatre. It opened May 7, 1663, and was known as the “King’s Playhouse” by many. The original building was a wooden structure made of three tiers, 112 feet long and 59 feet wide. At maximum capacity, it could hold 700 patrons. The performances during this time typically took place around 3 p.m. in order to make use of the daylight. There was no roof over the audience pit, which oftentimes left those attending plays at the mercy of the elements.

When the first theatre was destroyed by fire in 1672, the second theatre, named the “Theatre Royale in Drury Lane,” opened in 1794. This theatre lasted almost 120 years but was demolished in 1791 to make room for a bigger theatre, which opened in 1794. This theatre only lasted 15 years, as it also burned down in 1809.

The theatre building still existing today opened on Oct. 10, 1812. It seats about 2,237 people which, despite still being considered a large theatre, makes it approximately 550 seats smaller than the previous building.

Since its opening, it has been visited by Shakespearean actors, comedians, musical composer and performers and even the Monty Python comedy troupe, who recorded a concert album there. World War II forced the theatre to temporarily close and during the war, the theatre was used as headquarters for the Entertainments National Service Association. Although the theatre suffered minor bomb damage, it reopened in 1946 with Noel Coward’s “Pacific 1860.”

Since the war, it has produced mainly musical theatre, including several Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals including “Oklahoma!” In 1946, “South Pacific” in 1951 and “The King and I” in 1953. Other productions have included “My Fair Lady,” which had a five-year run beginning in 1958; “42nd Street” from 1984 to 1989; Miss Saigon from 1989 to 1999; and, more recently, “The Producers,” which closed in January 2007; a musical adaptation of “The Lord of the Rings,” which closed July 19, 2008; and “Oliver!” which began directly after the closing of “The Lord of the Rings.” The Drury Lane theatre is currently owned by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

It is often referred to as one of the world’s most haunted theatres. One of the most famous spirits alleged to haunt the theatre is that of the “Man in Grey,” a man whose skeleton was found in a walled-up room in 1848. Other supposed ghosts within the theatre include the spirits of comedian Joe Grimaldi and actor Charles Macklin.

Saigon-Going Home (The Cage: Vietnam)

(taken from the book: “Where the Birds Don’t Sing”)

18

Saigon-Going Home
The Cage and the Stranger
[Vietnam]

Just when I thought everything was back to normal, in the process of leaving Vietnam, sitting in the packed-air terminal, going through three days of the military checking of this and that to see if I had any issues in the area of drugs, psychological or physical; consequently, putting me in one cage after another, separating me from one group to another, finally I made it, that is, I made it to the inside terminal, a feat in itself, –I mean…I was really warn out.

During the processing, one guy [GI] came up to me in the bathroom where we all had to piss in this container and give it to the Security Police at the entrance, upon one’s departure from the latrine, then they’d have it checked for drugs. If you had any kind of dope in your system, [god forbid] it would come out showing, and you’d have a long wait before you got that free steak in your out-processing at Fort Lewis

a man next to me a young [anxious] white lad, asked me to save some of my piss for him, that is, put it in his container, as he was holding it in his hand [impatiently]. I looked to my right, the guard was always looking everywhere, he’d start on one side go down to the floor with his eyes and up to the ceiling, or almost that high, across and up the other side, and continue doing that; then look outside a bit, and do it again. At the same time, as the guard was doing this, he’d grab the piss bottles of soldiers leaving the bathroom, and give them to another Security Police person and he’d take them away.

For the most part, there was only a few seconds to make such a transfer, if one was going to do it in the first place; that is, making any transfers of the liquid from one bottle to another. The Security Policeman, standing at the doorway, had firmly said, when each person came through,

“…if you are caught giving away you piss, you will be put in jail, along with the fellow you’re trying to help…” and we’d not leave this hell hole. I told the guy standing next to me, in a somewhat, panic, to move on, get away from me or I’d exploit him for what he was trying to do, I said this as the guard started to look my way.

“What’s going on over there?” The guard said [craftily], as he started to walk towards us. The man next to me [desperately] seeing the movements of the guard, put his hand under the other guy’s dick to catch his piss, and quickly maneuvered on over to the other side of the latrine, where there were parallel urinals. [I think the guard overhead me telling him to get away from me quick or else.]

“Something wrong Corporal?” asked the guard. I looked at the dope addict, slyly, and said no, just minding my own business. “Good,” he commented, “Then move on out of here.”

The other man now was on the other side of the bathroom, trying to fill the rest of the bottle up in the urinals, he needed to fill it up a little over the middle line, but now the guard was suspicious. When I left, I turned around to catch a glance; the guard was watching him directly. I shook my head as I walked past the gate to get into another processing area; I’m sure the guard knew the man was up to no good, but it was best to just move on.

For three days [at times somewhat bored] I went through this process of check, and recheck. I couldn’t even find any booze to drink.

Then on the third day I was put into a cage with three other GI’s as there were several of them. They were [the cages] as big as a small kitchen, possible 100-square feet. As they [the processing people] got to you, you would go to another cage, until you got through the whole gamut, three cages in all [to insure you were drug free, this process was started in the summer of l971, just prior to my leaving which was in the fall].

The Stranger

[Abruptly.] “Hello, my name is Star.” I looked at the stranger, he sat to my left, and actually I only turned my head slightly to get a glimpse, giving him a preferred profile incase I didn’t want to talk. As I looked at this stranger wide-eyed now, he seemed calming; at the same time, I was listening to the sounds of the airplanes, their engines, and the chatter from within the terminal, the sounds of walking feet, pacing feet, –pacing back and forth, just waiting to get on the flight, everyone was doing it but me, and here was this small man ‘Star’, youthful, inquisitive. I thought at the moment, now what does he want. Maybe he was twenty-one, maybe not. I was twenty-four now, had been for a week. He looked like he was built solid. He was in green-fatigue Army garb. Not dressy at all but kept, no rank, no anything signifying who he was. I wasn’t much for talking, but I guess I could be friendly I thought.

“Hi,” I countered back, with a smile, hell I thought I’m on my way home; if he wants to rob me I could care less. I say that facetiously, for I knew it was not his intention. He was most likely boarded like me, having to go through all this gobbledygook bull shit.

He smiled [wisely], his face was smooth, almost illuminated it seemed, so clean looking, too clean looking, I figured he was not an ordinary soldier, maybe one of those undercover Military Intelligence chaps, but so what if he was –I thought.

He said [soothingly],

“I say–it’s over for you I see; the war that is, you’re going home I expect?” Knowing that was more of a statement than a question, I nodded my head ‘yes’, and smiled. At best, it was a rhetorical question, in the sense: — it was not a matter of if, rather of when, which was happening at this very moment. I got a little more composed, and asked [a little carelessly],

“How about you, I mean are you, are you headed on home also?”

“I’ll be back here, one way or another, I’m sure–it all depends… (‘Flight …’ some one said quietly.) Do you believe in God?”

I thought, man oh man, a preacher in the middle of the airport, maybe one of them you find back home; I’ve seen them all dressed up in old looking garb, like in the days of Jesus, sandals and all preaching around the airport, going into fast-food restaurants and asking for hand outs. But he couldn’t be one of them, he didn’t fit the bill.

“Yaw, I guess I kind of know of Him–” adding, “I’ve said a few prayers in my time.” Actually the only time I prayed was when I was young, and was studying to be an altar-boy, and when I drove drunk, and a few times here in Vietnam. But I felt I need not explain all that.

He smiled again, as if he knew something I didn’t know, or knew something I knew and wasn’t willing to share, he wasn’t snobby, or impolite, and I seemed to be in a trance as he continued to talk, and everything seemed to be related to a solitude with God. What could I say I told myself, I had nothing better to do today, and I wasn’t sure what they were saying over the loud speakers but it wasn’t let’s go, it’s 9:00 AM, but it was getting close to my time to get on the plane I knew. His voice was comforting, and tranquil.

Forty-five minutes later

[Bewildered.] “Excuse me,” I said to the stranger, as I got up and went to the counter asking why I wasn’t being called to get on the 9:00 AM flight, it was now 8:55 AM. She looked at me strangely [almost amused], then scratched her neck,

saying [as she tried to clear her throat]:

“Everyone is aboard airplane, we made last call 15-minutes ago; –it looks like you’ll have to take the next flight out, sorry.”

[Un-thoughtfully I yelled.] “What!” A few of the soldiers around the counter looked my way. “What’s that?” I asked in disbelief. Then settling… slowly calming myself down…I continued to speak:

“I mean lady that was my flight; I need to get on it [I didn’t stop to focus, and listen to what she had said].”

“Sorry soldier, it’s all secure, and ready to take off, you really can not get on it.”

I took in a deep breath of air, and let it out slowly.

“Oh well,” I said, trying to be cheerful, and then walked away. That’s what I get for talking, I told myself. The next flight was at 9:00 PM, I had time to walk around and get a sandwich and some coffee, they had a few carts with Vietnamese women selling food, and some machine venders. But as I looked for my friend in this somewhat 2600 to 3000 square foot waiting area, I couldn’t see him. No way could he have left, unless he decided to stay in Saigon, at this air base [Tan-son-nut].

Sitting Thinking Waiting for the Flight

I sat back down, got thinking how slow time moves when you’re patiently waiting; telling myself, this time will all pass, and be but a memory in time to come, you know, this was simply how it was [plaintively but true].

My mind now was shifting to a few days ago, I had met a gal with a blue dress on a few days ago, she wanted me to go down to her house in the city of Saigon, it would be a lustful afternoon at best, and if caught, a bust at worse, that is to say, I could get in trouble. Not sure what her price was, she said we’d argue about it later, she was a doll, big round breasts poking out of her flimsy silk like dress, a little like Frenchie, with nice sculptured legs. She came into the men’s latrine right behind me, she was a secretary to some Command Sergeant Major I believe, she kept on telling me we could do it right in one of the stalls there, right in the huge Air Force, latrine [actually who would know or tell, many women came in and left, all supposedly working– but I said no, it was too wild for me, but really meaning, too careless.]

Joe, my friend from the 611th followed me here to the Air Base, and was going to Hawaii, where he was going to meet his wife. He told everyone back at base camp, he was done with the Army, saying,

“Chick, don’t tell anyone. Make sure you don’t tell anyone, they gave me $2500 to stay in, and I took it.”

He seemed to be in a little panic as he emphasized not telling anyone, he even told me to ‘shut up’ about it a few more times, almost sorry he told me in the first place–that I was the only one he was telling [he was regretting–and here I’m telling everyone in the book, 33-years later]. I told him it was great, if that’s what he wanted; not sure what the big fuss was about, but I’m sure he went a cut the Army down from head to toe, and you know, that made it worse when you turn around a join right back up. In any case, he made sergeant, we were both corporals at the 611th; I think the extra strip he got was for joining. For myself, I needed to get out, it was time. He had taken a flight yesterday; I figured he was in Hawaii right this very minute.

Flight A102/9:00 PM

As I got ready to get on board the 9:00 PM flight, information had come back, seeping through the ranks, the grapevine as one might say, –it was that the previous flight had gone down in a storm before it reached Japan; sadly but true…

I stood like a stick in disbelief–

[With profound disgust.] I had to be pushed by the soldier behind me to wake up; I think I was in a daze for a moment.

“I was supposed to have been on that flight,” the soldier behind me caught his breath, “No kidding.” As I would find out later in life, this would happen once more; in l980, flying back from Italy to Germany, and back to New Jersey. I would take an early flight out of Italy, not the one I would be assigned to because I had gotten to the air base early, and they had several seats available, and asked me if I wanted to take it. I’d find out in Frankfurt, that the plane I was suppose to have been on, after my flight, went down.

In this flight [from Vietnam to Japan I was suppose to have been on], there were 220-soldiers killed; –in the flight from Italy to Germany [to take place in l980], over 240-soldiers would be killed.

Anyhow, I shook myself sober, and forced myself onto the flight, walking slowly, and thinking about the 220-soldiers, and my friend who had disappeared. I guess life would be boring without mystery, and so I left well enough alone. It was the hand of providence that rearranged things, not sure why, I was no better than another soldier, by far. Matter of fact, I was probably worse than most. But I knew I couldn’t dwell on that too long, it was just the way things were.

19

A Steak at Fort Lewis

As I was on the flight, going to Fort Lewis from Vietnam I knew once I’d get to Lewis, I’d process out of the Army, get a de- briefing, and be on my way home. It was the way things worked. If anything I had lots of time to think of the future. I started to think as the plane went over more land and water on its way to Japan [where it would refuel and I would buy my mother a beautiful opal necklace and earrings], and then onto Alaska [to refuel again], I thought about a reoccurring dream I had while in Vietnam. It was about being in the back section of a plane, and somehow the plane had lost its upper section in mid air. The dream never went past that [I had it several times]. Maybe this was the plane I thought, but I was seated in the middle of the plane not the back, it couldn’t be the same plane, or dream. Funny what you think when information is constantly being processed in your brain.

Two hundred soldiers dead in a flight, a preacher of sorts talked me into missing a plane. I was about to process out of the Army. The dream may have been right, the plane I was meant to be on went down, and possible I would have been in the back, like my dream indicated. It never had an ending [my dream, as I have already said] because, maybe and just maybe, God tore that part of the page out of the book of life [After I would arrive home from Vietnam, I’d never have that dream again for the rest of my life, or up to this writing, anyway.]

War is never good, but I had really gone to Vietnam thinking it would free a country; what I had learned was peace does not mean freedom, for they had peace, as long as they did what the dictator told them to do, yes, then he gave them peace [meaning North Vietnam of course]. At best I felt, maybe a slice of Democracy with a slice of Capitalism could benefit Vietnam. I didn’t know the combination for them, what would work, and I’m not sure if anyone else did either.

But what I did know was such regimes did not give the people, [although in pretense they may have] peace with freedom, something they never knew in the first place, but it seemed to me like they wanted to test it out; possible something new for that whole part of the world in general. Why the world was willing to let a dictator hold this country in ransom was beyond me; –especially when the nations doing the squabbling were the countries that had peace with freedom. It was a time of countries domineering people, and in some cases countries domineering countries. Who was right and who was wrong would be talked about for many years to come. Wiping my brow, I sat back and enjoyed the sun coming through the window.

Maybe the whole world couldn’t tell the difference between peace for sale, and peace with freedom [sometimes we’re just too close to the forest to see the trees].

In my short life time, I have witnessed at points of time, where the whole world was wrong and one person right, it has been proven time and again. But I didn’t know if I was right or wrong, I just went by my values, I couldn’t violate them. And so maybe our truth is simply our values that are what makes us right and wrong. I don’t know, in any case I was glad to be going home.

I looked at a few clouds outside of my port hole in the plane; it looked like a cluster of candy frost. I liked it. Still no birds though. [I hesitantly looked at a number of faces in the seats, some sleeping, some tired, some couldn’t sleep, but all happy to be getting out of Vietnam, I think.]

My mind started shifting into day-dream mode again.

I think all my friends in Vietnam would not have minded dying for that reason alone, that is, peace with freedom. I knew all the controversy back home was more on blind-sight, and hind sight. A bunch of people blind following the blind not free thinking. The very same way the government runs the war, the blind leading the blind.

From what I’ve seen, read, and heard most of it was showmanship, news on news, the spot light. We all forgot people were dying. We forgot peace with freedom. We all had our sins though.

The sorry feeling I always carried around was [although it didn’t bother me as much as my friends] was the naked fact we had no support, not by our own people, much less the rest of the world.

I got thinking about the steak you are suppose to get the last day in the Army, no, I mean, when you come home from Vietnam, I guess everyone gets one. I hope they are right.

I had also learned, –and thought as I sat on this stuffy plane, with all the body odor shifting around like in a horse stall, and believe me, it was enough to kill a skunk– no one knows you as a soldier; –that is to say, because while working in San Francisco, at Lilli Ann, everyone in the world knew of, or about Adolph Shuman even me, I worked for him, but here in the Army I was no more known than a ‘wino’ on Wabasha Street, in St. Paul, Minnesota. And I’m sure if Mr. Shuman would have been on this airplane with me, no one other than a few people on the plane would have known him. So that told me something for having a long career in the Army. But I knew I needed to get educated somehow and I would take advantage of the GI Bill now and go to College. That is what I had to do.

The world was changing and you had to change with it. To have a degree, and not be licensed in some profession, you were not in demand. Plus, I needed to learn how to be more assertive, and talk to crowds, and so I had a lot of work ahead of me.

When I got to Fort Lewis, I was given a big fat steak [and I don’t mean with a lot of fat on it], just like they promised, and some letters from the President saying what a good job I did, and from a few Generals and so on. I was also told they’d send me an Army Accommodation Medal in the mail in a few months, and then I was on my way to St. Paul, Minnesota, it took all of 24-hours.

Amos and the Mutt (Story Fourteen – Fall of 1986 – “Voices Out of Saigon”)

Tabasco the II, now being the fall of 1986, was twelve years old, Amos, 92, they climbed up to the hillside over looking the Hightower plantation, new owners occupied the house now, since back around 1973, or so, just right after Tabasco, who was left out in the raw by Caroline Abernathy, the day she hung herself, let the dog run free, not a good thing, and Betty Hightower, kind of did the same thing, but Tabasco produced a litter, before her death, and she carried one of them to Amos, dropped the little he-dog, off at his feet, and then shortly thereafter, was skinned alive by rats, and Betty had put a bullet in his head, to stop the suffering. Hindsight, everything it seems for the Abernathy and Hightower family carried along with it an ounce of hindsight.

Amos now has walked up to the hillside, over looking the two plantations, Abernathy’s old place, and Mrs. Stanley’s place, where he worked all his life, for her, and for her parents, and then Mr. Stanley came along, and married into the family, inherited the plantation.

Sitting on the roots of an old tree, Amos talks to his long time friend, the Mutt, the dog Mrs. Stanley calls Tabasco the II’

“I got to find us a way to git us dead ole pal, come her’ Mutt, wes got to think dis out…you got to be prepared to die, jes like dhe living got to be prepared to live, man is weak and woman, she like dhe Eve, weaker, and women is evil, but dhe man he is eviler, dat is dhe way it is, and you and I cant fix dhem up, dat dhe way it is again. Man at war with himself, flesh and blood, father and son, flesh and spirit, cant live together, and man he cant tell between good an evil anymore, dats dhe way it is Mutt, you knows that, as well as I do. Man he tries to change dhe world, make it his kind, and Jesus he didn’t even try dat.

“If I die before you, dhe rats goin’ to eat you like your mama, so I got to figure dhis out, you an’ me together.”

Amos and the Mutt fell to sleep, it was dark when they Amos woke up, a penetrating chill in the air. The dog was awake, and that was to old Amos, an unspeakable delight, but he had to figure out a way to say Farwell, he knew in his heart his time was limited, and he took the dogs head and laid it back down on his leg, and the dog and he fell to sleep again.

And then he mumbled, to the dog,

“Dhe best thing I done learned in my life is dhat I learned it all by the age of ten years old, since then, I jes learned it eight times over, yes sir, I firmly believes dhat, I keeps a-learning, over, an’ over dhe same ole thing dog. And I learns ever one is looking for something her an’ dhere, wher at one time, it was all wrapped up in faith.”

Daybreak

Said Mrs. Stanley, to her husband, Amos and that there dog of his, slept out all night up the hill a ways, they are going to catch their death.”

“Maybe that’s what he wants, maybe he wants to die, but not first, he wants old Tabasco II to go before him, to make sure those rats his mother tangled with are no long around, gone for good.”

“Could be, didn’t think of that…” Mrs. Stanley replied.

“I think Amos is going to rob the devil and God himself out of death, he’s going to call the shots.”

“Well, when I saw them this morning, he looked like a dead scarecrow, and so did the dog.”

Mr. Stanley brooded a moment, “That old negro worked for your pa, he’s 92-years old, and the Mutt, he’s something like fourteen I think, perhaps he caught up to Amos in Dog years though.”

“Maybe it is best you go check on them,” Mrs. Stanley asked her husband.

“I reckon so…” Mr. Stanley replied, “now that I think of it, I saw Amos walking up that hill yesterday, he looked like Mosses; not Amos’ father, but the bible Moses.”

The Night Before

The dog-he was yellowish red in colored, patches, something likened to a Golden Retriever, but was a mixture of breeds, nothing pure, more on the mutt order, but a handsome looking mutt. Tobacco, the dogs mother, died in 1972, born in 1960, the only father or parent the dog ever knew was Amos, he had a gun with him this evening, he closed his eyes and shot at the dog, tried to kill him but missed, and that was that, he could not do it again. And he couldn’t allow himself to die before the dog, cause the rats would get him, even if the Stanley’s took care of him, he’d not sleep in his grave, not in peace anyway, he’d have to come back as a ghost, to check on the Mutt, and he told the dog this. If dogs understand, if they can sense things beyond food and danger, Amos was hoping the Mutt could understand his reasoning, not Amos’ father (Moses James Tucker, born 1875, died from exposure, sleeping in a barn, one winter’s day, and froze to death, at the age of 65-years old), but the one in the bible, the one who got the Ten Commandments from God, came down the mountain and smashed them out of anger for the people had created idols during his absence.

Thus, Amos James Tucker, called the dog over to him, said, “You fool, ya ole fool of a dog, you can’t climb this hill anymore, your legs are too thin, and they wobble, jes like mine, wes got to stay her dth night.”

In the middle of the night old Amos woke up, saw that the dog was dead asleep on his knee, I mean, really dead, and had fallen to sleep on his knee, and said to the corpse, “Ok, now it’s my turn, thanks Lord for making it easier for me.”

(The funeral was held three days later, and both got buried on that hill site, the dog in his already dug grave, and Amos, beside him.)

What You Can Not Miss in Vietnam

What better way to pamper yourself or be pampered is there than to relax and enjoy the health and beauty benefits of a spa treatment? Whether this is in the luxurious surroundings of a five star spa centre or a simple manicure and foot massage on the beach, Vietnam has much to offer.

Not only can you find the treatments you would find in any spa centre at home, but here in Vietnam you can find local variations based upon local religious beliefs and on ancient traditional medicine. Like many in East Asia, the Vietnamese believe health consists of harmony of body, mind and spirit. The concept of balance as expressed through Yin and Yang is also part of the spa treatment here, intertwined with the more traditional mud baths and facials. At the same time as your spa treatment, you can also enjoy Buddhist meditation with a monk, visit pagodas, and practice taichi or yoga in the morning, taste local cuisine in the best restaurants and learn the art of balance between yin and yang in your daily meal. And who could resist a green tea scrub?

In Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, it is possible to tour the city in the morning, enjoy a lunch of local food then relax in the afternoon with a one-hour facial Thermal Mask and a foot care treatment using paraffin, then perhaps, in the evening take a trip on the Saigon river enjoying a buffet dinner on board.

Non Nuoc Beach with its white sands lies on the outskirts of Da Nang in South Central Vietnam and is renowned both for its spectacular beauty and for its history as an R&R destination for American troops during the War. Various spa resorts have sprung up here offering such treatments as body or foot massage, body treatments, facials, manicures, pedicures, exfoliations, waxing or you can relax inside their saunas and steam baths.

Nah Trang, Vietnam’s most popular beach destination has numerous spa facilities offering both western and Vietnamese treatments. Here you can enjoy a 2-hour Spa Package to detoxify. this includes steam and sauna, Vietnamese herbal bath, demagogical body scrub, demagogical body wrap, massage, floral footbath etc. or perhaps you will indulge yourself with a 3 hour treatment including steam and sauna, green tea scrub, aroma indulgence facial, scalp massage, manicure, and pedicure with floral footbath.

Even in the more traditional Hanoi, capital of Vietnam, in the north has a range of spa treatment centres. here you can enjoy treatments such as aromatherapy massage, steam sauna, jacuzzi, skin care, hair services, manicure, pedicure, foot reflexology etc.

In the astonishingly beautiful HA Long Bay to the east of Hanoi, there are several spas, especially on Cat Ba Island, the largest of the thousands of islands in the bay. Here you can really spoil yourself among what has been described as one of the scenic wonders of the world. You can even enjoy treatment on a special spa junk, while floating around the bay!

Wherever you are in Vietnam, you are never far from a spa. Considering a Vietnam Spa Tour Package.

Art and Culture in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire

Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire is a region overflowing with art and culture. A dazzling range of art galleries, museums and theatres, many located in the imposing granite buildings which are enduring symbols of the city, certainly won’t disappoint.

At its heart is Union Terrace Gardens, nestling below the imposing backdrop of three of Aberdeen’s finest granite buildings. Together the Central Library, St Mark’s Church and His Majesty’s Theatre known locally as ‘Education, Salvation and Damnation’ provide the key to the evolution of the region’s cultural life.

With such a prosperous heritage, there are many splendid places that capture the colourful history of Aberdeen- – the impressive turreted Town House on Union Street; the castellated Citadel at The Castlegate and the striking grandeur of Marischal College. In old Aberdeen you can discover the past by visiting 500 year old University Kings College and St Machar’s Cathedral. Old Aberdeen, which surrounds the University, is like taking a step back in time, with its tranquil cobbled streets and narrow walkways.

Museums and Galleries
Art enthusiasts will love Aberdeen. The city’s Art Gallery, which was opened in 1885, houses a wonderful collection of Scottish and international works and contemporary exhibitions. It is the largest public gallery in the North of Scotland and one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. A beautiful granite building with a striking marble lined interior, it houses a varied collection of works of art, including outstanding examples of Modern Art, and work by the Impressionists and the Scottish Colourists. Visitors can also see contemporary craft, Aberdeen silver and a wide range of decorative art and there are regular changing displays and special exhibitions, events and activities.

There are also many smaller galleries worth seeking out within the city and Aberdeenshire, while local artists are often displays on the walls of the region’s restaurants.

Marischal Museum holds the principal collections of the University of Aberdeen, comprising some 80,000 items in the areas of fine art, Scottish history and archaeology, and European, Mediterranean and Near Eastern archaeology. The permanent displays and reference collections are augmented by regular temporary exhibitions. The museum is in the old building of Marischal College, on Broad Street, the second largest granite building in the world (after the Escorial, Madrid) which will soon also become the headquarters of Aberdeen City Council.

The 16th century Provost Skene’s House is now one of the city’s few remaining examples of medieval architecture. It contains an attractive series of period room settings, recalling the graceful furnishings of earlier times. The displays include a suite of 17th century rooms, a Regency Parlour and an Edwardian Nursery. Visitors can also see a unique series of religious paintings in the painted gallery, where scenes from the life of Christ can be found on the ceiling.

The Tolbooth on Castle Street was built between 1616 and 1629. Formerly known as the Wardhouse, it was a gaol for those awaiting either trial in the adjacent court or punishment. Now the home of Aberdeen’s Museum of Civic History it focuses on the history of crime and punishment within the city. Here you can visit the original cells where witches, debtors, criminals and felons spent their days. The Museum features an extensive programme of events for all ages with a variety of talks on aspects of local history and exhibitions featuring objects related to Mary Queen of Scots, James VI, crime and medieval instruments of punishment.

Situated on the historic Shiprow, the award-winning Aberdeen Maritime museum also incorporates Provost Ross’s house, which was built in 1593. The museum tells the story of the city’s long relationship with the sea, from the days of sail and clipper ships to the latest oil and gas exploration technology. This unique collection covers ship-building, fast sailing ships, fishing and port history and is the only place in the UK where you can see displays on the North Sea oil industry. It includes an 8.5m (28 feet) high model of the Murchison oil production platform and nineteenth century lenses from Rattray Head Lighthouse.

On the outskirts of the city The Gordon Highlanders Museum is home to the regimental treasures of the world-famous Gordon Highlanders and tells the exciting story of one of Scotland’s best-known regiments, while in the countryside near Maryculter, Blairs Museum of Scotland’s catholic heritage displays an interesting collections of paintings, church textiles, silver and Jacobite memorabilia, including a full length memorial portrait of Mary Queen of Scots dressed as she was on the day of her execution.

The Japanese Connection
One of the most influential of the region’s historical figures is Thomas Blake Glover, (1838-1911), the founder of Japan’s mighty Mitsubishi empire. His family home, Glover House, can be visited at Bridge of Don on the outskirts of the city. Thomas Blake Glover is today revered in Japan as being one of the founders of modern Japan. He had a crucial role in the industrialisation of Japan and in the introduction of Western developments in manufacturing, while helping to overthrow the Shogun and restoring the rightful heir to the Imperial Throne of Japan. His personal life may also have provided the basis for the Madam Butterfly story, immortalised in the opera by Puccini.

The house has been recreated as Glover would have known it in the 1860s. A guided tour will help explore Glover’s story, and visitors will see an authentic Victorian Parlour, Dining Room, Bedroom and Victorian Kitchen, as well as admiring Samurai armour and other Japanese memorabilia.

Music and Theatre
The Music Hall has been the heart of entertainment in the city for over 180 years. Formerly the city’s Assembly Rooms, it was designed by the celebrated architect Archibald Simpson. It now features more than 200 performances a year from pop to country and classical to contemporary and regularly plays host to the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and the BBC Scottish Symphony orchestra, as well as a variety of pop/rock concerts and the annual Aberdeen International Youth Festival.

For larger ‘stadium’ style events, Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference centre is the North’s premier facility for major rock and pop concerts, sporting events, public shows and exhibitions.

Aberdeen’s music scene includes a variety of live music venues including pubs, clubs and church choirs. The bars of Belmont Street are particularly known for featuring live music. Ceilidhs are also sometimes held in the city’s halls.
His Majesty’s Theatre in Aberdeen, which first opened its doors in 1906, continues to attract an eclectic range of top quality theatre productions from West End musicals to opera, ballet, contemporary dance, drama and much more. Acclaimed performances of Grease, Chicago, Miss Saigon and Equus have all been enthusiastically received by sell-out audiences.

For art house cinema and independent productions, head for The Belmont Picturehouse on Belmont Cinema, and don’t forget to take a look at Aberdeen Arts Centre, the venue for the region’s many excellent drama groups which reliably stage first class musical theatre and drama.

Events and festivals
Aberdeen is home to a host of events and festivals including the Aberdeen International Youth Festival (the world’s largest arts festival for young performers), Aberdeen Jazz festival, Rootin Aboot (folk and roots music event) Triptych (Scottish music) and the University of Aberdeen’s literature festival, Word.

Inspired by over half a century of rich musical tradition under the direction of Lady Aberdeen, the Summer Music Festival at Haddo House has also become a firm fixture in the Aberdeen City and Shire cultural calendar,
Cultural influences within the region may have been many and varied and all warmly welcomed, but the Aberdeen character remains firmly grounded in the traditions of the past. The local dialect Doric is often celebrated in poetry readings and literature, there are many highland games throughout the region which keep alive the traditional ‘heavy’ sports such as caber tossing, while highland dancing and bagpipe or fiddle playing are still popular choices with youngsters taking up music and dance.

If you are lucky enough to be visiting for Hogmanay, the Stonehaven Fireball Festival is a unique event not to be missed. To welcome in the New Year, a procession swinging huge fireballs over their heads walks through the town before flinging their fireballs into the sea. Street entertainment and a firework display add to the atmosphere.
Literary Connections

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote Treasure Island while staying in Braemar in the summer of 1881 and Lord Byron lived in Aberdeen in his early life, attending Aberdeen Grammar School. Named George Gordon Byron after his grandfather, George Gordon of Gight, an Aberdeenshire laird, Byron bore Royal blood, descended through his mother from King James 1. In his epic poem, Dark Lochnagar, he described the ‘steep frowning glories’ of one of Deeside’s most famous mountains.

South of Aberdeen you’ll find the Lewis Grassic Gibbon visitors centre, which celebrates the life and times of the region’s most noteworthy literary figure. Grassic Gibbon grew up in the village of Arbuthnott in the early 20th century. His most famous work, A Scots Quair, and in particular Sunset Song, document his life there and have become a Scottish classic.

The Word Festival, one of Scotland’s most popular literary events takes place each spring. With readings, discussions, music, art and film it has played host to many celebrated authors such as Irvine Walsh, Lionel Shriver, Deborah Moggach, Iain Banks, Ian Rankin, Lynda La Plante, William McIllvanney, Richard E. Grant to name just a few.

The Confussion (Part Eight, To – “Voices Out of Saigon”)

“Oh, he was for sure, a man of secrets, though they didn’t come to surface.”

“If he were standing here, would you tell it to him,” Detective Douglas Sexton asked Linda Macaulay.

“But he is dead, and so is the question.” She answered, staring at the Detective.

Unmoved by her answer, he, with a slight motion to his hand, placed his over her hand.

“Sounds like you’re counting his money again, and he is all dead…!” said Douglas.

“All right, for the sake of argument: if Cassandra, whom is back in that hospital in Wisconsin now, if she never shot her self, and he, Jason Hightower was back to normal-yes. You guys want us to love you from birth to the tomb, and I’ve only known you a while, since that day in December of last year, now it is March of 1977, so let’s say three months and a week, for that matter, you are still a stranger.”

“I was there Linda, I asked you out, if I recall right!”

“Yes, I remember that too,” answered Linda.

Detective Sexton was getting a bit bitter, and spitting out some sarcasm, “…perhaps it’s my bad luck to be a poor detective.”

“Oh yes, bad luck, not for you but for me, since I am dating you…” she said, hands clinched on her lap, as they sat in his apartment watching T.V., eating popcorn, watching ‘The Creature from the Black Lagoon,’ now she took his hand off her’s.

“Maybe if you’d just act rich, it might help; you don’t act like you want to keep me, rather as if you own me.”

“It goes both ways, there is only sex between us anyhow, and I suppose Jason was worse than a father or uncle, he became worse when he got his wealth I heard, so the neighbors said, insurance, and the plantation, and the furniture, you looked kind of eagle-eyed for his money if I recall.

Linda, pauses for a few seconds, then gets up, walks over to the window, looks out it, it is a nice spring evening.

“He wouldn’t let me out of his sight, but bought me snazzy cloths, negligees and all that girl stuff. All to make me happy and you can’t buy me a stick of gum. Is it that child support you have to pay, or is it that you get a little when you visit your kids, from your ex-wife? I really was happy also you know; I just had to be there for him. He made an effort to make me happy, but there was an eccentric side to him, a placid side, a side that when he talked, was emotionally flat, he had many sides I suppose.”

Doug, stops speaking, reaches for a cigarette from his shirt pocket, lights it, with his lighter, watching Linda look out the window, puts it in an astray, and sits back, after a few puffs off the cigarette, puts it out, almost a whole cigarette, and wants to speak but stops himself, then says:

“How was Jason with his daughter, and you, I mean, did you see her much?”

“I drove him around town in his new Cadillac, he liked me to go fast around those corners, and into the alleyways, perhaps missed it as a kid, Cassandra never left her room, and we were gone quite a lot. He liked me taking him to the red-light district, if only his wife knew what was in his head, how he got there before I’ll never know, and he never told me, but he knew Jenny and Kathy and the whole lot of the whores there. I even waited outside of the car for him a few times, while both those gals took care of him. You just don’t know people, do we? You’d think his item wouldn’t work-because he’s in a wheelchair, it was really his legs that didn’t work, the item worked well, he even had flashy pants underneath those blue jeans of his.

But not me, not Linda Macaulay, I did not stop him, I worked for him those months twenty-four hours a day, doing his laundry, even her’s, Cassandra’s: yes I was in the middle of sin, and we didn’t see Cassandra all that much, her mind was too much for us, fathoms deep, so we left her alone, and I did what young girls my age do, shop, shop, make love with the rich, and drive the Catholic around and showed off.”

“Ah,” said Doug quickly as if to hear more, but Linda seemed to have hushed up, “What about Betty, did he cheat on her?”

“Does a cat meow?” replied Linda, “of course he did, and he called it moderation, with little truth, something like that; although he was known in his own circles as the pillar of truth, and honesty, and fidelity, and the most faithful of the faithful. He was not a criminal of course, not in the since of how we see them nowadays, not a thug, god forbid, but he’d go into a few nightclubs, they knew him at the few he had me take him to. He never talked Betty out of going to Saigon either, I think he wanted his time in the bars, he’d go to them when she visited her sister in North Carolina, Caroline, and he put the pistol in the house, even told me were it was, loudly, as if to let Cassandra know, although I cant’ say there is a connection here.”

“I see. This-Hightower guy-” and Doug just shook his head without finishing his sentence, then added, “funny no one discovered his betrayal, he used to have servants did you not, I mean, Jason Hightower?”

“That was long ago, I don’t know a thing about that, he was very efficient, even in his debasing moments; with a spark of dignity everyone saw him, servants, I don’t know. But I do know he was likened to a spider after the fly, when he wanted something, he even could produce a mindless outrage for what he wanted, and we around him were really armatures compared to him.

“When Betty was in Saigon, he went unchecked, and his capacity for rage and revulsion, seeped out of him.”

“I see these are the parts his wife never knew!” said Doug.

“And what does that matter either? Whether he was or not? What can anyone do about it, he’s dead, and Cassandra will get all the money, all the $200,000 left for the furniture, and the land which sold for 1.8-million, and the house, yes the house that sold for a cool million. If the hospital doesn’t take it all away before she recovers, if she recovers.”

“No more, Linda.”

“So you had enough of the Hightower’s and Abernathy’s for an evening, and love also?”

“Thank you for that remark, I mean, love, we make love, but neither of us have fallen in love, have we? I thought I was ready to, but somehow I lost it. You said to everyone he was a good man, Jason Hightower, now this.”

“I said he was a good man, yes, after I left them, I simply just told my second self, I lied, you see, he’s dead, you know that, so what’s the difference.”

“Sure, yes, he’s dead, oh yes, he’s very dead, but seems to be alive tonight, I seem to be angry I can’t have vengeance on him, tell his wife, yes, I’d like to go tell his wife, but she’s dead too.”

Now they stared at one another, continued to stare at one another, as if this was an agonizing affirmation.

“You could have black mailed him,” said the detective.

“I got $10,000-dollars worth of materials, things, a place to live a while, a Cadillac car in my name, I suppose you can call it what you want, but I don’t call it blackmail, I produced a service, with another set of rules, it’s all fair in love and war, so they say, you just got to lay all your cards on the table, and I did, I never lied to him. And he never lied to me, we didn’t have to lie to each other, we didn’t want to reform each other either, we liked it how it was. Do you want me to tell you all?”

“Not for anything, I heard enough, an old man died, and a young girl became a woman, just so you don’t have to climb down the drainpipe when you get married.”