|That pre-Christmas weekend in London, concluded
||[Jan. 21st, 2017|10:48 pm]
Friday at King's Cross; Saturday at the Barbican (and beyond); on Sunday we reached the purpose of our visit, which was the Bears' annual carol evening.
What can I say about that? It is what it always is: a delight, the point at which I can believe in Xhristmas dor another year. Always the same, always different. We were very well behaved this year, very focused: at least, the singers were. GirlBear, who maintains an archive, thought this might be because we were not as numerous as we often are - though at twelve, not the smallest group eitherm and the two first-timers fitted in very easily. For whatever reason, there was very little chat between carols, though the musicians rose to the challenge and doodled inventively at every opportunity: the accompaniment to Down in Yon Forest came this close to turning into House of the Rising Sun.
Despite this, there was plenty of time for singing, and one result was that we sang more Shepherds than ever before: Cranbrook and Sweet Bells and Shepherds Arise and finally BoyBear asked whether anyone would like to sing the - what shall I call it? - the default version, the one we learned at school, and some people admitted that yes, they always regretted skipping that one, so we sang that, too. We use our own collection of carols, which was chosen many years ago by BoyBear and copied and collated (and illustrated) by one of our number, who also added one of his own favourites. One result of this is that whenever we discuss changing the repertoire it becomes clear that every carol in the set is somebody's favourite, and somebody's unfavourite. It's helpful to be reminded of that.
For some reason - and I don't think it's hard to work out why - It Came upon the Midnight Clear hit home very hard this year.
durham_rambler and i were due home on Monday, but not until late: to qualify for cheaper tickets, we'd booked a train that didn't leave King's Cross until 9.00 pm. Plenty of time for a jaunt, and GirlBear suggested we go to Peckham. She had read - as I had - a review of a café there, which not only sounded like a fun place to eat but suggested that Peckham itself was undergoing the sort of gentrification that would solve some of my Christmas shopping problems. Well, half right. Taking the direct route from the tube to Persepolis, Peckham is entirely unreconstructed. This isn't a bad thing, and I could happily have lingered to photograph the glorious abundance of cegetables we don't see in the north-east:
Our destination was Snackistan, a tiny café in the back room of a bright yellow shop called Persepolis, which sells all the things you might expect to find in a shop called Persepolis, most of them edible. We ordered the tasting menu, which at £20 a head is ridiculous value: they bring you food, and then they bring you more food - and more food. It just keeps coming, until eventually even we had to admit defeat. Everything is vegetarian (at least for the time being) but since the Bears are vegetarian, this suited us very well. We were asked whether we had any particular requirements, and said 'not too spicy, and easy on the sugar', and were charmed that this appeared not to result in any reduction in the quantity of sticky pastries we were offered for dessert, but in any gaps on the plate being filled with pomegranate seeds and slices of orange. They are unlicensed, and I drank tea with cardamom, and coffee after (and this too was included). I'll spare you the photographs of every course, but here is GirlBear contemplating my favourite, chickpeas and spinach and a tart yoghurt dip:
We took a different route back to the station, and found ourselves in a completely different Peckham, all neat little terraces and green spaces. Still not many shops, though the tiny bookshop is doing its best, but there's a fine display of murals, of which this is the most spectacular:
When I was four, my best friend lived in Peckham. I suspect it's changed.