|A week in London
||[Jun. 4th, 2016|06:18 pm]
This post has been a Work in Progress for the last week, and meanwhile stuff keeps happening. Nonetheless, here it is at last. We were in London for a week, for reasons I explained on our way south. It was a busy week, and now it is over and we are returned to our regular programming, whatever that may be. Here's the compressed version of the last week:
- Thursday: commemorating John Travers Cornwell
- The unveiling of John Cornwell's memorial stone went well. The sun shone, the band played (though I didn't hear all of that because we were VIPs and so didn't leave the reception until the band had already marched into the park) and the speeches were brief and inoffensive - in fact I was very impressed by the First Sea Lord, who said a number of things I would not have expected to hear (that what Jack Cornwell had done was brave, and remarkable, but that at sixteen he was neither the youngest sailor at the battle nor the youngest to die; that the unsatisfactory nature of the battle itself went some way to explain the hunger for a hero in the days that followed; that German losses had also been heavy, and that he would be joining the German admiral at Kirkwall the next day). After the ceremony, durham_rambler talked to the press, and I sat on a park bench in the sun and nattered to my school friend S. who lives - andd grew up - locally and had joined us for the morning.
Here's the report in the local paper.
The family (durham_rambler's brother's family and some cousins) had planned all along to go on the the cemetery in Manor Park, but it wasn't until the day we discovered that there was to be more wreath-laying there. Not a problem: it was quite low key and pleasant, and I was interested to talk to two men from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission ("it's our job to make sure that the names are legible."). After which the family decamped to the pub.
- Thursday evening: Islington Folk Club
- Guest: Emily Askew playing early music in a line-up with no name - not the Artisans, but a new work-in-progress grouping. After a busy day and in a hot room, I was not entirely focused, but they were fun, energetic, a plausible synthesis of folk and early music. I hope I'll hear them again, and while I'm awake.
- Friday: in halls of legend
- A&E at the Whittington Hospital plays a large part in my family mythology, notably the time my sister, being wheeled one way on a trolley because of her bad back, met my mother, being wheeled the other way, having dislocated her hip (again). Now at last I have experienced it for myself. The cause was neither an accident nor an emergency, and we hadn't intended to treat it as such. Among all the distractions while packing and leaving home, I had left behind some of my prescribed medication, and was hoping for a drop-in clinic wich could supply spares. But it seems that the way to see a GP at the Whittington is via A&E, so that's where I went. It was smaller than I had expected (it has been relocated since the glory days) but reasonably quick and very efficient. The bottleneck in the process is pharmacy, who tell you there will be a 30 minute wait and then take 70 minutes to call your number (after which you queue for another quarter hour to hand in your slip and collect your pills). Luckily - or perhaps this is the plan - the pharmacy is adjacent to the cafeteria which has large screens displaying the status of prescriptions, so I lunched on (excellent) spinach tart and coffee from the muffin bar while we waited (durham_rambler had the breakfast burrito, because he could).
- Saturday: party! all day!
- The party was scheduled to start at midday and continue until we all fell over, which gave me time to go across the road to the little Farmers' Market which sets up on a Saturday morning outside the Tufnell Park Tavern. A party with a running buffet is a great excuse to buy lots of bread, and there's a stall selling a variety of huge sourdough loaves, so I did that, and also acquired a couple of interesting cheeses and a handful of asparagus to enhance the potato salad. Then back to make the salad, and I was just going downstairs to change into my party frock when the first guests rang the doorbell: luckily they were people I know well enough to say "You know where to go, I'll be with you in a minute!"
- This was the first of GirlBear's two birthday parties: we couldn't stay for the singaround, which is today, but ours was the talking-to-people party, and I had a lovely time talking to people - with occasional breaks to slice bread, and one spectacular party trick where I got to sit and chat and whip cream with a whisk. I didn't, of course, get to talk as much to as many people as I would have liked, but what there was, was good. I had a chance, as I had hoped, to ask J about the new Ceramic Art Gallery in York: "Oh, yes," she said, "I'm about to start training to volunteer there."
- Sunday: quietly at home (mostly)
- My placeholder for this section was "Blind. Woods. Free pizza." and really, what more do you need? Well, maybe just a bit more:
- BoyBear and durham_rambler made some headway with hanging a blind which has been waiting for attention for some time: naturally it isn't as simple as the instructions on the packaging imply. They got to the point where a smaller drill was required, and only then appealed to the friend who assembles your IKEA furniture professionally (it's only one of his professions, and not necessarily the most interesting, but it's the relevant one). He obliged with a suitable drill, and the task was completed on Monday.
- Meanwhile, GirlBear and I had taken a bus and gone for a walk in the woods. First Queen's Wood, with its organic garden and café, and shady walks and dappled clearings; then across the road to much busier Highgate Woods, where the rhodendrons were running riot round the tea house.
- For dinner, we phoned out for pizza, to an establishment the Bears have used before, which is in the habit of rewarding the customer with free extras, but only after they have ordered all they want: on this occasion, we cracked the system, and an order for two large (very large) pizzas was rewarded with the response that one of them was free. Triumph! It was good pizza - not as good as we used to order from the place that is no longer there, heavy on the cheese and light on the tomato (which makes no sort of sense) but hot and tasty.
- Monday: a walk through Clerkenwell
- Deserves its own post, with plenty of pictures.
- Monday evening: Unity Folk Club
- Bank Holiday or no Bank Holiday, the last Monday of the month is Unity Folk Club. It's a singaround club, very left-wing, very supportive, so although there are regular attenders, you never quite know what you are going to get. This month's selection included some fine singing, some well-chosen poetry, a letter published in the local paper opposing library cuts, tunes from Dorten Yonder, somebody who struggled with "Where have all the Flowers Gone?" despite having the words on a piece of paper, and it didn't really matter because everyone else in the room knew it and was happy to sing it.
- Whatever happened to Tuesday?
- For no reason at all, I didn't sleep well on Monday night, and was bleary on Tuesday morning; also it was raining. So I declined to join durham_rambler on his visit to those museums with exhibitions about the Battle of Jutland, and slopped about the house, and about the internet, reading mail, writing bits of this post, looking at my pictures, that stuff.
The high point of the day was probably the evening, when R. came over to work with the Bears on a piece of music they intend to play at the singaround party. It's a classical piece, a Hasse Triosonata - is that right? I know nothing about it. I've poked around YouTube, which offers me a variety of pieces played on flute and violin, none of which sounds anything like what I heard on Tuesday on guitar and two mandolins (but perhaps it wouldn't. Probably it wouldn't. I am embarrassed by my lack of memory for music, but there it is). Anyway, it was fascinating to hear BoyBear picking it out on guitar (when he concentrates, he looks very much like my / our father), then to hear it again as he grew steadier in his part and GirlBear added mandolin, and finally to hear what happened when R. added another mandolin. I wish I could be there today, to hear it again with one degree more of polish...
And then we came home. But that's another story.