So this morning, I walked to the Foundling Museum. It's an exhibit of tokens, clothing, and other items from the Foundling Hospital, Britain's first home for abandoned children. The hospital, really a children's home, was founded in 1741 by sea captain Thomas Coram, and Handel was a loyal patron! He performed THE MESSIAH in the hospital's chapel to raise money, and performed there many more times over the years before he died. William Hogarth, the famous painter and satirist, was also a patron. Some of his illustrations are exhibited at the museum, along with a true copy of THE MESSIAH that Handel bequeathed to the hospital!
But the most moving items are the tokens that some of the mothers left for their babies. The hospital had limited space, so they instituted a lottery process whereby the mothers would go to the hospital on a certain Saturday to petition to have their children taken in, and they would draw a ball from a box. White meant your child was accepted. Red - maybe, pending further inquiries. And black - your child was refused admittance, either because there was no more space or because your child had some kind of disease. Many mothers left little tokens with their babies before they walked away forever. And these are heartbreaking to look at - buttons, handmade trinkets cut from pieces of cloth, little bracelets. Hard to imagine looking on your child for the last time before you hand them over to strangers. What's more heartbreaking, though, is that the hospital never did give these tokens to the children. They wanted to preserve the parents' anonymity. So they sit now in this little glass case, with only strangers to look on them.
You can also sit and listen to the testimonies of people who grew up in the Foundling system. Such varied experiences! You can hear them online too! Just click here. And there's another wonderful thing the museum does. They randomly pick 10 visitors each day, and at 2:30, those 10 people are given a cup made by artist Clare Twomey. At the bottom of the mug is a good deed that you are requested to fulfill. You can choose not to do the good deed, but you have to give the mug back. If you do the good deed, you keep the mug. I had to leave the museum before 2:30, so I wasn't able to participate, but I think it's an amazing idea! And it turns out you can actually participate online! Anyone from anywhere can do it, and you can also suggest a good deed. They'll put your deed on a little cup and post it online. So check it out!
After the museum, I walked to the Curzon Mayfair Theater and saw DIAL M FOR MURDER. In 3-D! Hitchcock was once again ahead of his time and filmed the credits and a few shots of the movie in 3-D. Such fun! To see a classic on the big screen in a beautiful theater. So far I've only been to these Curzon theaters - there's a chain of them here. And they remind me of our Angelika in Manhattan. Big, plush lobbies to sit in, and a snack bar. The only thing that's been different so far is the POPCORN! My friend Andre will appreciate this. He can't live without a big bag when he goes to the movies. :) You can get your popcorn here salty or sweet, or MIXED! Oh - my - gosh. What we're missing in the states. I got the mixed and it is deeeelicious. I always get a small bag because I'm never able to finish my popcorn, but I gobbled this whole thing down. What a treat! And Sunday, I'm going to see SOME LIKE IT HOT in Henry VIII's big backyard! :) They have movie screenings in the Hampton Court gardens. I'm quite sure that will be a different experience!
No pics today, but tomorrow I'm off to see St. Paul's Cathedral.
GUEST WRITER'S BIO
Vicki Speegle is an award-winning screenwriter whose feature script LOVED ONES was in development at Amazon Studios and was a finalist for best screenplay. Her screenplay DEAREST was a finalist for the 2011 Sundance Screenwriters Lab, and her television pilot THE WAKES OF WILBUR POE recently placed in the finals of Slamdance.
Vicki grew up the daughter of a gay single mom turned pastor in Akron, Ohio, where she helped take care of her two younger brothers, an experience that provided fodder for a number of short stories and scripts. Her infatuation with storytelling began at the age of five when she sent a love letter to Donny Osmond, and since then she has worked an eclectic mix of jobs to support her writing habit, including 4 years in the U.S. Navy tracking nuclear submarines on a tiny island called Adak, Alaska, assistant to a very eccentric New York City artist, and a brief bout as the world’s worst waitress. Vicki studied music performance and education at Akron University before making the move to New York University, where she earned her BFA in Film & Television Production. During her studies at NYU she interned as assistant to the editor for Ken Burns’ production of THE WEST. She wrote, directed, and produced several shorts, including her thesis film OLDER, which went on to screen at the Tribeca Underground Film Festival and won 2nd place in the Pioneer Theatre Short Film Slam in New York City.
After graduating from NYU, Vicki joined Rigas Entertainment as assistant to the Director of Development, helping in the development of feature films with directors Peter Cattaneo (The Full Monty) and Maggie Greenwald (SongCatcher). In 2005 Vicki began shooting a documentary about her mother’s struggle to reconcile her faith as a pastor with her advancing Alzheimer’s. The project is currently in post-production and has garnered the support of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation). In 2007 Vicki’s screenplay LOVED ONES placed in the top 5 of the Bluecat Screenplay Competition and won Screenplay Live at the Rochester Film Festival. Her works have placed in several other competitions, including Women in Film, Chesterfield, and American Zoetrope. Vicki’s credits include a teen comedy for Applause Films and radio scripts for Wynton Marsalis, Director of Jazz At Lincoln Center.
Vicki lives and works as a writer, filmmaker, and web producer in New Jersey. She is still waiting for Donny’s response.