A pleasure, too, to reconnect with an old friend, whom we have not seen for quite a number of years. John seemed in good form—just a little older, like the rest of us. We heard about his second home in a small village in Brittany—a place where he spends time much as we do at our Laguna Beach retreat. In the finance industry for many years, he now observes the turmoil from a more comfortable distance, clearly enjoying his retirement and as glowingly proud of his grandson, Hugo, as are the rest of us.
Running out of London time, we decided to spend the rest of the afternoon at the Victoria and Albert Museum in South Kensington...
I think I mentioned having bought a copy of Edmund de Waal’s “A Hare With Amber Eyes” after reading bout it shortly before leaving the US in the New York Times. Ellie has been reading it on the trip—along, it seems, with large numbers of the people we meet in England. It’s a family history that traces a collection of Japanese netsuke, written by a contemporary artist whose work, we had discovered, was in a special installation at the V & A.
Once at the museum, we drifted through some rooms devoted to the English aesthetic movement on our way up to the sixth floor, where the ceramic collections are on display—and were amazed at the range and depth of the collection...
... which included, to our delight, a tiny but utterly charming piece from the Chicago-based Teco pottery that we ourselves have collected over the years. Here it is, dwarfed by its neighbor:
I liked this sentiment:
The Edmund de Waal work was installed high up above the rest of the display cases, on a long, red, fully circular shelf around the base of the dome...
From the V & A, we plunged underground again to join the sardine-packed, rush hour crowds on the Piccadilly and Northern lines to return to our temporary abode in Islington.
Took a few minutes to catch our breath and relax a while before heading out to the local pub to enjoy a final dinner there.
More distressing, though, was the arrival in New York. Unlike Heathrow, the lines at immigration were inexcusably long and slow; and worse, the video display units, tuned to CNN, were showing reports of an execution planned in Georgia despite world-wide protests from prominent leaders from the Pope on down; and another touting the results of a poll showing Sarah Palin trailing President Obama by only five points, despite the fact that she’s not even running. Welcome home.
A slow ride into New York City, again through rush-hour traffic, to our new temporary home, The Inn on 23rd Street. A very comfortable room, a fine shower. We tend to forget the conveniences that make our lives so easy… Is this was makes our country great? (Just kidding. A bit.) After unpacking and taking a quick shower to freshen up from the long journey, we walked the few blocks down to Eatalty, a favorite spot at the corner of 6th Avenue, and waited only a short while for a table—and an excellent meal, accompanied by a glass of Chianti Classico. How we suffer! Back in the hotel around nine o’clock (2AM English time), and kept ourselves awake a while longer watching an episode of “Foyle’s War.” Which took us right back to the UK.