Category Archives: Overheard In London

Mr Fox and Mr Squirrel

Yesterday I saw a fox and a squirrel in Museum Gardens, abutting my housing estate. Seeing as the “Museum” referred to in that name is the V&A Museum of Childhood, it only seems right to then tell this tale as Mister Fox and Mister Squirrel, so here goes.

Mister Squirrel in happier times

Mister Squirrel and Mister Fox lived in Museum Gardens, near the Bethnal Green tube station and Buddhist retreat. (Those are separate places, by the way.) One day, Mister Fox was hungry, and Mister Squirrel was bragging about how many nuts he had stashed away for the long winter months soon upon them. So Mister Fox killed Mister Squirrel, and dragged his lifeless corpse off into the briar to eat without the prying eyes of onlookers.

Mister Fox is a careful eater

The End.

The Mourning After

On 06/24/2016 03:13 PM, DB wrote:

You are really in the thick of it. Just reading a bit about it this a.m. Thanks for your blog posts. 

I’d love to hear your interpretation of what this means. Is it the most conservative faction that wanted independence. Is this about immigration as much as anything?

Anyway, enjoy. Looking forward to your next report.

Yes, quite thick things are here.  I’ve just come from the Book Arts Book Shop.  When I got there all the talk was of the collective hangover people feel today about this.  One gentleman had spent the entire past week campaigning for Remain, and said he hadn’t slept yet.  Tanya, the proprietress, complained, “I talked with my neighbours, I talked with my friends.  Everyone I know voted Remain, so what more could we have done?”

She then announced that it was her birthday, and she did intend to celebrate, despite the long faces all around.  I do believe I helped in that undertaking, buying a pile of books.  “I feel like shutting the store and going to celebrate right now!” she exclaimed.  “You say that every time I’m here,” I replied. “That’s because you spend so much.”

My thoughts on this are still resolving.  I think, for the short term, there will be much upheaval.  The financial markets are a mess, and a recession is widely anticipated.  Some have suggested the pound sterling may ultimately lose as much as 30 – 40% of its value, although the BofE seeks to ensure it will not.  The FTSE will doubtless continue to suffer, although at present is up for the week, mostly on the strong pre-Brexit trading volume.


Cameron’s resignation, pending until a vote can be organized — first within the Tory party, and then, perhaps, nationwide — sets up an epic power struggle.  Boris Johnson, former mayor of London, is widely expected to stand for PM, and just might win.  Meanwhile, in Labour, there is already a call for a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn, and challenges have been mounted.

This all in just the past few hours.

Scotland have threatened secession, again, but will no doubt succeed this time.  SNP, the standard bearers of Scottish independence, control over 70% of the Scottish parliament, and Scots voted overwhelmingly for Remain.  They feel more tightly bound to Europe than England lately.

Wales, while not asking to leave the UK, have demanded assurances on funding levels.  They feel England forced through this referendum, and even though they voted Leave by roughly 60%, they are now complaining about the effects of that.

And this all in just the past few hours.

See what I mean?  The dust has hardly settled, and already ever sharper lines are being drawn.  France, Holland, Greece, Denmark and more are queuing up to Leave now, too.  If that happens, the entire experiment is as god as over.  Marine le Pen has already called for a French exit, Frexit I guess it will be called, or perhaps Fraisser, to introduce a new, French, portmanteau.  Last country out, please douse the lights!

Similar nationalistic parties are surging all across Europe, and if their main economic and security apparatus crumble and fall away, what is to stop another march towards war?  We already see borders being closed against each other; crude characterizations of the other in the press and campaigns.  Waning religious majorities in France and elsewhere are waking up from decades-long slumbers to discover that in fact a significant portion of their fellow countrymen worship differently than they do.  Intolerance on one side is met with intransigence on the other, and vice-versa.

Then along comes Donald Trump to rub salt in the wounds.  Thank you The Donald.  May you choke on haggis.

UK leaders are variously calling for immediate invocation of Article 50, or a more deliberate course, leaving such actions for the next PM, who, in any event, wouldn’t take office until October, earliest.  The EU, meanwhile, are impatient, like a jilted lover.

A senior EU leader has confirmed the bloc wants Britain out as soon as possible, warning that David Cameron’s decision to delay the start of Brexit negotiations until his successor is in place may not be fast enough.

Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, told the Guardian that EU lawyers were studying whether it was possible to speed up the triggering of article 50 – the untested procedure for leaving the European Union.

“Uncertainty is the opposite of what we need,” Schulz said, adding that it was difficult to accept that “a whole continent is taken hostage because of an internal fight in the Tory party”.

“I doubt it is only in the hands of the government of the United Kingdom,” he said. “We have to take note of this unilateral declaration that they want to wait until October, but that must not be the last word.”

Sounds like the UK may come home some day soon to find their clothes dumped on the curb.

Okay, this started out as a note to you, but it seems to have grown into my next blog post.  I haven’t even taken time to enjoy my new artist books yet!  I’ll be sure to share them when I return.


Baby is Brexity

While there are other reasons for the current visit, one is the incipient vote in the UK on exit from the European Union. There’s a lot to unpack in that sentence, so let’s get parsing. And let’s just focus on that independent clause. It is early in the morning — about 2am — on 22 June, 2016. Tomorrow is election day for a single referendum, the wording of which is, “Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

First thing to note is that this refers to the United Kingdom, not Great Britain alone, and thus includes Northern Ireland. To remind our readers, Great Britain is the island itself, which contains England, Scotland and Wales. The UK is more completely written “The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.” So even the commonly used portmanteau Brexit (British Exit) is, itself, misleading.

An amusing, or tragic, result of this is that if the vote is Leave, then the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland will become a 310 mile land border between the UK and the EU, a subject of much consternation amongst the populace on both sides of it (both border and vote).

So our two sides are Remain and Leave, so named due to the ballot choices presented, “Remain a member of the European Union” and “Leave the European Union.” For the record, Pawn comes down firmly on the side of Remain. However, in the interest of fair play and the free flow of information, he last night plopped down in front of the telly with A to watch The Great Debate on BBC|News. Pawn is a citizen by birth of the UK, by way of both his own birth on these shores, in outer London, and his father’s birth here. A is also a citizen by birth, by way of her father’s birth in Northern Ireland, but just as Pawn also enjoys US citizenship, she enjoys Australian. A complex little pot of nationalities were thus present before the LCD screen last night. She may vote as a current resident, I may not as I have not been registered to vote in the UK in the past 15 years (the cut-off term for this election).

While much has been made of Sadiq Khan facing off with Boris Johnson in The Great Debate — the current Mayor of London vs the immediate past Mayor of London; the first Muslim mayor of a European capital vs a WASP career politician of fluid stripes and naked personal ambition; the second generation immigrant product of a British comprehensive education vs. the white scion of the upper-middle class, product of public schools and Eton; Labour vs. Tory (although the Tory head, PM David Cameron, schoolmate of Johnson, is putative leader of Remain); the list goes on — there were actually three person sides in this debate, the other four all being women, and it was these others who really made it interesting.

They were, for Remain, Scottish Conservative party leader Ruth Davidson, and Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress; for Leave, Labour MP Gisela Stuart and [Conservative party] energy minister Andrea Leadsom. There was much reminding voters of mum-hood and grand-mum-hood, some of which lead to laughs, and there was much clammouring for the mantle of patriotism (brought flinch from A). Gisela Stuart was quick to remind voters that she herself is an immigrant, when it served her ends to do so, and Boris was quick to remind us of the same (her, not him) when it suited his ends, which were not always the same.

Part of what makes this whole thing so blasted difficult for the public is that it’s all just so ill-defined for so many people. The term Brexit, for example, that portmanteau I referred to above, confuses people who might be forgiven to think this involves just Great Britain, and not Northern Ireland, with the difficulties that introduces (see border, etc.). Brexit owes it’s existence as a term to predecessor Grexit, itself a mashup of Greece and Exit, but that had nothing to do with the EU, referring rather to the possibility of Greece being forced out of the Eurozone, and its Euro currency, governed by the European Central Bank. The UK is part of none of those institutions, having its own central bank (BoE) and currency (pound sterling).

Into the void of public understanding of just who is leaving what pour ready vats of misinformation, carefully (or not) fashioned by the two sides, their backers (bankers, unions, business, Russia, USA, Vladimir Putin, Barack Obama, etc.) and the press. There are so many articles, mentions, debunkings, exposés, exploitations, etc. of this misinformation, it can be hard for even a determined voter to get at the truth.

Boris Johnson and friends, for example, were quick to raise the very real spectre of all of southern Europe — meaning Italy & Greece, but really meaning the commonly referred to PIIGS countries of Portugal, Italy, Ireland Greece and Spain — being forced into the worst depression and recessions since the Great Wars, even though, as with Grexit, that has to do with the Eurozone, of which the UK has no part. It may be an effective scare tactic to point to youth unemployment rates as high as 50% in those countries, which is true, but that has no real relevance to the matter at hand, unless one is stoking fears of mass migration, which, Surprise!, is exactly what they’re doing.

The cause and effect of mass migration is very much at play here, as are its bedfellows, xenophobia, racism, hatred. Witness, for example, the image recently introduced by Nigel Farage‘s United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP):

Those are refugees fleeing war in Syria, by the way, which by International law are protected peoples, but Farage will gleefully use them as a harbinger of huddled brown people flooding the shores of England. And mind you, he’s talking just to England here. Scotland is all too happy to welcome more.

The influx of foreigners which has many here upset are those economic migrants coming from other EU countries, those taking advantage of Freedom of Movement, a central tenet of the EU itself. One can walk into a pub anywhere in this country, so it would seem, and be waited on by a Pole, or other EU migrant. But for maximum effect, Farage focuses not on those other white-skinned people, but on our darker brothers and sisters from less savoury places (remind you of someone, Mr. Trump?).

To be fair, there is plenty execrable behaviour on the side of Remain, too. Cameron has proven himself all too willing in this campaign and others, to resort to blanket statements of untruth and conjecture masquerading as fact, to the extent one wonders just how he ever manages to actually win elections. In spite of his own best efforts, it would seem.

Well, enough of this. It is now past 03:00 and time for my time-shifted brain to go back to sleep. Tomorrow waits on the doorstep, the final day of the campaign, and then comes the vote itself.

I would be remiss, however, were I not to mention the assassination of the late Labour MP Jo Cox, of Yorkshire (yes, that Yorkshire, you Downton Abbey fans) who was shot and stabbed by a crazy man, shouting Britain First! (coincidentally the name of a nationalist, racist party) in Birstall near Leeds. She had come for a “constituent surgery” (think “town hall” meeting) to be held in a library, in her district of Batley and Spen, Yorkshire.

A passionate campaigner for human rights, refugee rights, prevention of war crimes and other humanitarian causes, Cox was also a firm believer in the European experiment, and campaigned strongly in defence of Remain. Her death shook the country in ways large and small, and lead at least one Leave supporting Labour MP to switch her vote. Macabre as it is, in response to her death the financial markets rallied, believing the public revulsion at a political assassination (the first in over 40 years) would bring people back to their senses, as it were.

We shall see, the final vote tally should be in Friday morning…

London 2009 – Day 17 – Pawn’s Fortune

As I strolled into Petticoat Lane Market today I was approached by a well dressed man wearing a cobalt blue turban and a dark brown suit.  He wore a full, thick, lush beard, and had penetrating brown eyes.  He bore them into mine, and said:

You are a very lucky man
Next month will be very good for you
You will become famous in your field
You are a mastermind
You have one story in your head
Write the book.

I thanked him and walked on, a little bewildered but feeling generally compliant.

London 2009 – Day 15 – Overheard

Overheard in London:

I dare anybody who is getting on the tube to talk to each other!

Man who was “in his cups” getting onto eastbound Victoria line at Kings Cross – St. Pancras station.

And then this:

It’s the first time I’ve got cast with my original accent.  I’ll have to remember how I talk!

Actor in lobby of Pleasance Theatre, North Road, wating for seating for Dying For It.


London 2009 – Day 13 – The Frontline

Yesterday was a slow day by any measure. X left to return to the US and I took some time to relax, read, and generally just be lazy. I did sojourn down to Leicester Square to procure a ticket to see The Frontline , by Ché Walker, at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre down in Southwark, a recreation of original Globe Theatre, and a pretty good one at that.

Lucky for me I had a seat in dress circle (first balcony) and sheltered, as the Globe is open roofed, and the hoi polloi stand up in the courtyard and their only recourse in case of rain (like the light mist at curtain time) is rain coats or ponchos, anyone opening a bumbershoot will be roundly booed, or worse.

The plot of The Frontline is the life in the direct vicinity of an underground station somewhere in the East End of London:

There is an underground strip club; a couple of food vendors, one selling hot dogs and the other selling Korma, locked in friendly competition; a religious group; a handful of drugs dealers, and various other habitués of the area. We watch them all interact and most of the time the beautifully sculpted dialogue is taking place on two, three or four levels at once. A drug dealer is taunting his rival while a stripper is teasing her bouncer while a evangelist is converting a sinner while the hot dog vendor is berating the Afghani vendor. That we can make any sense out of this at all is testament to the skillful direction of Matthew Dunster and the cast’s remarkable sense of timing.

I loved this show. It handled many of the same issues that English People Very Nice did, but with more humour, grace and effect. It did not aspire to the full throated assault on English bigotry that show did, but it still handled the subject deftly, as in a scene in the first act where a black stripper and a white drugs kingpin get into a debate about British society and who has a right to claim priority.

A rolicking good night at the theatre, and a show I would love to see transition to film or video. One interesting thing overheard at interval; one usher to another “This one gent just left, said he was only two days off the plane from the States and couldn’t understand a word of it!”

While the promotional materials all warned about rough language and subject matter, none of them warned about the thick cockney accents and sometimes impenetrable language. But the script is so masterful, so well written, so peppered with intelligent, sophisticated, vocabulary stretching words and turns of phrase that Shakespeare’s own theatre was certainly a well deserved home for this production. Ché Walker has brilliantly earned the right to put his characters on Shakespeare’s stage.

London 2009 – Day 2 – Uncommon Parallels

In which Pawn having extricated himself from his day to day life for interval finds that just as life imitates art, so does art imitate life. Furthermore, during this discovery, finds that such mirrors, when held up to one’s life, can provide variously valuable lessons and frequent opportunities for sheepish laughter. Armored with said knowledge, and feeling especially humbled and foolish having just seen his life held up, thusly, for examination, resolves to strive for less drama and less comedy in life, or at least for better drama and comedy, if it must be there.

Day 2, at a decent hour, X launches herself from bed with all the speed and grace of a three toed sloth and after a breakfast of rashers and eggie-weggs your intrepid citizens plummet out of the apartment and into the day, already started without them but showing no signs of waiting for their participation.

We alight first at the Tottenham (pronounced Tot-nam) Court tube to procure our Oyster cards. Much fuss with the machines, which don’t really work but serve to distract people who would otherwise be queuing for the single gate agent and complain about the length of queue, so they instead complain about the failed machines and get into a now shorter queue after those who belligerently stayed on queue in the first place have been served and on their way. I pity the poor TFL wage slave whose job it is to convince people to un-queue and use the machines instead, just to have to watch, powerless, as the machines fail to do anything useful. [but he did resemble Robert Carlyle, so some were grateful for his attentions – X]

Once cleared through what feels like a more rigorous and grueling process than cross-border customs, we are being rocketed south through the Northern Line underground to Southbank and the Hayward Gallery. Two exceptional exhibits are in right now, Annette Messager “The Messengers” and, closing Tuesday, “Mark Wallinger curates The Russian Linesman: Frontiers, Borders and Thresholds.” [overheard, Is it like “The Wichita Line Man?” – X] Whoa Nellie, hold onto your hat! It is hard to imagine two more different shows for this venue, and it is hard to imagine two shows which could exceed any expectation you might bring to the Hayward. Where to start?

Annette Messager is a collector and a purveyor of collections. She uses a multitude of media; sketch, oil, acrylic, collage, fibre, fabric, motion control… the list goes on and on. She builds collections of objects, concepts, thoughts, guilty pleasures, embarrassments, revelations, whimsy, and finds ways to display them so that we can enter into her world, or not, engage or remain aloof; our choice. But, even if we remain standoffish, we are inside her head, or a model of her head, and we start to understand her world view.

Her work is not always comfortable, and we sometimes find ourselves wondering if a particularly difficult image or installation is real, or sarcastic or ironic. There is much violence and much shame in her work, and while sometimes it may force the viewer to confront the presence of violent or shameful behaviours or thoughts in their own hearts, sometimes it may just leave the viewer cold, hurt or dumbfounded.

There is much remarkable within this exhaustive retrospective. Of special note to Pawn were:

  • How My Friends Would Do My Portrait: A collection of dozens of portraits of the artist in a variety of media showing just how differently we may be viewed by all of those people in our lives.
  • Collection To Find My Best Signature: A collection of over a hundred small framed works, each featuring up to 10 different takes on the artist’s signature, arranged in a large diamond shaped grid.
  • The Men I Love, The Men I Don’t Love: This is part of the Room of Secrets, a sort of meta-collection of collections, displayed as a room into which holes have been cut at different heights and positions, allowing the viewer a glimpse inside a woman’s private study, as it were, to see what she collects and what does that really say about her. There are dozens of collections in this room, including Voluntary Tortures, a look at the things that women do to themselves, or allow to be done to them, in the name of beauty.
  • Gloves – Head: A large installation piece in which hundreds of knit gloves, with coloured pencils inserted where the finger tips would be, are arranged on the wall to make the image of a face. The gloves bulge out, all stuffed, making their sharpened coloured-pencil fingernails seem quite vicious and threatening.
  • The Exquisite Corpse [le Cadavre Exquis]: A human pelvis, spine and skull to which are attached, via long cords, moulded claw-like hands and feet, and a beakish proboscis. This is all suspended in air from a scaffold and the hands and feet are moved about like those of a marionette by means of motors and winches, trolleys and suchlike, all while strikingly lit from the sides and above, casting ghoulish shadows all about. The effect, accompanied by Philip Glass-ian music, was hypnotic, to say the least. The guard, a strikingly beauty in an Audrey Hepburn kind of way, just stared at this spectre the whole time we were there.
  • And a room of slowly inflating, writhing and collapsing lush fabric shapes, organic and carnal, yet so enticing I wanted to be among them, just another gently respirating member of this eternal/internal seraglio – X

We could go on, but you’ve already stopped reading, so what’s the point. We finally took our leave of Annette Messager and trundled upstairs to The Russian Linesman.

You know what? This is just too much to disgorge all at once. I will say this; the Russian Linesman was a superbly curated show, very inventive, very revealing, and it will be closed before you could ever hope to see it, so what does it matter anyway?

What’s next, you ask? [Well, it’s a leisurely walk along the Thames, with stops for photography, sand castle construction, coffee, mocking of tourists, etc., suddenly turning into a speed walk that rivalled Chairman Mao’s Long March under Nic’s whip, as we realized we might well be late for the play at the Barbican. Which is a 1970’s mixed use labyrinth in itself, especially when you we arrive three minutes before curtain (not that there was a curtain). – X ] Well, it’s “Andromaque,” by Jean Racine. Written in the 17th century, this is the tale of what happened after the Trojan war. What happens after Achilles and Agamemnon and Helen and all go back home and try to return to life as usual. More specifically, what happens to their kids, when they grow up, and have to deal with the overturned landscape which had been in place for generations. What happens? Well, they are all wrapped up in ridiculous love triangles, requited and unrequited, and with all of the subtlety of a soap opera and the plotting side kicks from your favourite Shakespeare play…well, all hell breaks loose.

This play is presented in the original French, with super titles. In the Silk Road theatre in the Barbican complex, this is a problem. This is a lovely, intimate, proscenium theatre, but with the steeply raked seating section so popular during the 1970s. Why is this a problem? Because for all but those in the very rear rows this means that the audience are constantly having to look up to the super titles and then back down to the actors. This deprives the audience of the opportunity to really watch the actors’ craft, and deprives the actors of the undivided attention of the audience. In a less steeply raked theatre, the super titles would not have had to be placed so high up, and more of the audience would have been spared this difficult choice. [Except for the lady in front of us who spent the interval reading the play in French…show off! – X]

The show itself was wonderful. It was beautifully lit, staged, acted and produced. Two thumbs up! We do not single out any one performance, for this was truly an ensemble piece. [Not quite, says X, The king, Pyrrhus and Helen’s daughter, Hermione, “If there had been any scenery, they would have chewed it!”]

Okay, where do two pagans go from there? To church, of course. We bused and trudged from Barbican, in The City, down to Waterloo, and then back to Victoria Embankment and up to Trafalgar Square, to St. Martin-in-the-fields to acquire tickets to a concert of Vivaldi, “Four Seasons by candlelight,” in the nave of St. Martin-in-the-field. We got two in pews, restricted views (WTH, it’s music, not dance) and caught a quick bite to eat in the Crypt. Pork and leek sausages over potato mush with boiled red cabbage and a red wine/gravy reduction; £7.99. Quite good, despite my general loathing for British sausage. These were moist and tender, and delightfully tasty in the gravy. [and consumed at tables set over the graves of English worthies of centuries past, whose early departures from this world were probably due to a similar diet. – X]

The concert was about what we expected; top 40 classics played by the Belmont Ensemble of London:

  • Bach – Brandenburg Concerto No. 3
  • Vivaldi – Concerto for Two Violins
  • Bach – Air on the G String
  • Pachelbel – Canon in D
  • Vivaldi – Sinonia ‘Alla Rustica’
  • Mozart – Salzburg Symphony No. 2
  • Handel – Arrival of the Queen of Sheba

While the whole program was good, and hung well together, there were some disappointments. There was something wrong, in the first portion, with the sound from the viola. This was not a performance issue, but simply that the sound of the viola was “boxy” in its upper registers. Maybe a misplaced bridge or a bad tuning. [too embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know there WAS a viola until Nic made this perceptive comment. – X] Hard to say, but after interval it was all good. The Mozart, especially, and the Handel were quite strong, and led to a partial ovation. [And quick exit by your correspondents, with no genuflecting. It was a long day, and the Scotch, the Scotch was calling. – X]

This type of ”Pops classics” show is quite common these days in large European cities, but they do deliver what the audience really comes for: an opportunity to hear familiar music in an exceptional venue, played by competent, and sometimes even inspired, musicians. A nice night out, but nothing to write home about (oops, guess that means I have to erase those last several graphs!).

Back home now, [via Charing Cross Road. Number 84 is vacant, next to a Subway sandwich shop and across from “BARGAIN BOOKS OFFICIAL SEX SHOP” – X] taking turns at the keyboard (X is editing and contributing) and getting ready for bed. Lot’s of new photos, will post those shortly.


London Journal – Day 15 – Opening Night


I haven’t ever attended a big-time opening night before, and I guess I should have waited near the rope line to see the celebrities I wouldn’t have recognised (since they’re all British) but since I had spent £15 for a first row Dress Circle ticket I was able to walk down the red carpet myself (yes, I’m not making this up) and past the gawking fans, and into the theatre and into the bar where, herded like sheep to slaughter, I waited for the opportunity to take my seat.

When I did so my immediate neighbours pointed out Peter Hall, the director, in the 8th row, and his minion seated around him. One made this quip, “I see the press have been given seats on the centre aisle. I imagine that’s so they can go for another drink without disturbing anyone.” True enough, the centre aisle was lined with serious people with laps covered in notebooks writing away. I’ll read all about it in the morning.

I have been to see a lot of shows at this point, and for many of them my seat mates have been pairs of men. I don’t think they’re all gay. It just seems that it is very acceptable here that men may go out together to the theatre, dance, what have you. There is a much greater freedom for people here, in public, to show affection for others of the same sex. It is quite common to see people walking arm in arm down the street or through a museum, and I’m not referring to couples, just friends. It is refreshing.

Anyway, the gentlemen to my right were such a pair, while to my left was a young Tony Blair wannabe constantly thumbing away on his Blackberry during interval. Across the theatre, in a box, was a quite old man with an attractive younger woman. One of the men to my right said, “Do you think that’s decoration or staff?” to which his pal replied, “Oh, staff, definitely.” It was at about this time that the woman in the box donned her jacket, covering her plunge neckline and ample bosom. Our attention turned elsewhere.

The show, The Vortex by Noël Coward, was quite good. A tense drama from 1920’s society, it starred Felicity Kendal – a favourite of telly dramas and sitcoms. She turned in a good performance, as did Dan Stevens as her son. Nothing earth shaking, but a good night out.

Oh, and the director had left the house before curtain call, which he did not join.

London Journal – Day 5 – Smoke From Sherlock’s Pipe

I had a wonderful night at the theatre last evening, The Playhouse Theatre, to see “Ring Round the Moon.” It was a charming twist on a drawing room comedy, taking place in a winter garden rather than the drawing room. I shan’t review it here other than to say that is was a nice way to spend an evening.

I was met in stalls by Glen and Vivianna, the charming couple from Toronto whom I met on line at Tkts earlier in the day. Neither of us had realized we’d be sitting together, but it was a pleasant surprise. We chatted before curtain, and during the intervals. They are only in London for the weekend. It was nice to make some new friends.

After the show it was back to the flat, and a couple of hours work.

This morning brought me out to Portobello Road to experience the market stalls and antiques dealers there. What a mass/mess of humanity:


Hundred upon hundred of people throng to the site to hunt for bargains. There are rough geographical boundaries from south to north, from antiques to fruit & veggie, flea market, and crafts. I am proud that I actually made it the whole way, tho I was pleased to duck out when I got to the overground tracks. Here is some of the more gimmicky new and repro stuff:




I did buy a small vase for myself, (shown here next to my iPod Nano)

and cherries, oranges and some spinach & feta burek for dinner.

Here is a little guy who just wanted to take a nap:


The crowd is a real mish-mash of nationalities and languages. I heard French, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Polish, Arabic, Chinese, Japanese… I stopped into a butcher shop briefly and caught this exchange:

Overheard in London:
Butcher, holding up rib roast to show to older gentleman and speaking slowly: One rib is the smallest amount I can sell you sir.

Older gentleman is silent

Other customer: What language do you speak sir?

Older gentleman: I speak English, son, I’m just thinking about it.

I just couldn’t help but snap this shot, a kind of recursive camera thingy:


The trip back to the flat is circuitous due to a fire alert at Baker Street Station. I am on the Hammersmith & City, so this is a problem. No trains will stop at Baker Street. I get off at Paddington Station, which is one of the large stations of the system, along with Kings Cross/St. Pancras, Marylebone, and some others. These stations share the feature of connecting British Rail with the Underground. Paddington is huge and broad and a traveler like myself, one who is new to the station, can get easily frustrated by the lack of way finding signage, which is so abundant throughout the rest of the Underground. I find the Bakerloo line, finally, which gets me back to Marylebone station, which is close to home, closer, in fact, than Baker Street.

Updated with photos: 19:40 16/02/2008