Tuesday, September 20, 2011


We keep promising ourselves a hike on nearby Hampstead Heath one morning, but it keeps not happening because we wake up sore from all the activity the day before. It didn't happen again this morning. Instead, we hung out at the flat again until nearly noon, then headed out for the Archway tube station and took the Northern Line down to Charing Cross. Our arrangement was to meet Jean Morris of Tasting Rhubarb at the National Gallery Cafe for lunch, and we were about to use the crosswalk from St. Martin-in-the-Fields into Trafalgar Square when I happened to glance at my neighbor waiting for the light... one of those delightful moments that divide themselves into split seconds when you just begin to think, is it? could it be? haven't I seen the face in a photograph? and, yes, surely, it must be! turning into yes, it is! It was actually Jean. We had never actually met, but the recognition dawned--at least for me, in exactly that way. She was the one to first acknowledge it, said: Peter? and gave me a big hug. And one for Ellie.

Such a nice moment, then. We crossed the street together and found our way to the National Gallery Cafe, where Jean had booked a lunch table. A lovely lunch. I have always admired Jean's eye and her skill as a photographer, her spot-on writing, and her literary tastes. We are, too, both Cambridge graduates--though she a few years later than myself--and both in the field of language and literature. We also have blogging friends and interests in common, a love of meditation and a leaning toward Buddhism. So we had much to talk about over lunch. It's heart-warming to get to know the person behind the blog--so many others I would love to meet in the flesh, but have not yet. (We took a couple of pictures, but they did not turn out as I would have liked, so I'm choosing, regretfully, not to use them.)

After lunch, Jean walked with us as far as the tube station and set us right for our next trek--over to Sloane Square on the Circle Line for a visit to the Saatchi Gallery. Emerging from the underground into Sloane Square, right next to the Royal Court Theater, I remembered those days in the late 195os when I attended a year at teacher's training college, down the Kings Road a bit--at time when the Royal Court was hosting the new playwrights and adventurous theater, from John Osborne to Harold Pinter and Edward Albee, Ionesco and Pirandello... A fine time to be in Chelsea!

We found the Saatchi a few blocks off Sloane Square...

... and walked through the current exhibition there, The Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture. Some pictures, with the request that you check out the site for attribution and further information:

I personally found the show mostly "interesting" rather than truly engaging of the heart and mind--but that may just have been my mood and that kind of distracted, "passing through" attention that I brought to it. I did enjoy some of the more spectacular work, especially the erotic sculptures of David Altmejd...

... and the wonderfully clumsy clay female nudes by Rebecca Warren--R. Crumb in 3D:

But this is not the moment for art criticism... and besides, I am too lazy for it this morning.

Leaving the Saatchi, we started out on foot towards Hyde Park, thinking to go to the Serpentine Gallery--one of our favorite stops when we're in London. From the Peter Jones department store on Sloane Square, we headed north on back streets--mews, really--parallel to Sloane Street, joining the latter only as we approached Knightsbridge. Gave Harrods a miss, though I did think of heading down into the Food Court there to at least take a picture of a Stilton for MandT! We were amused to see a line of what must have been ten Muslim women in a single party, dressed top to toe in black, including the veil, emerging from a very trendy, extremely expensive upscale women's wear boutique...

By the time we had turned on to Knightsbridge and reached Hyde Park Corner, we were beginning to flag and it was close to five in the afternoon. The Serpentine, if still open, would soon be closed; so we continued, instead, across Park Lane and down Piccadilly in search of a coffee shop where we could rest up a while and refresh. Did so at a handy Cafe Nero, where the coffee was good and the atmosphere unhurried, catching up on the morning newspapers--the Herald Tribune and the London Times. Trudged on through the Burlington Arcade to the back streets zig-zagging toward Regent Street, where we turned north again to Oxford Circus and along Oxford Street a ways toward out final destination for the day, the Latium restaurant, which Diane had picked out for the birthday dinner we had promised her.

The Latium proved to have been an excellent choice. Good food and wine...

... And a chance we relished for some time alone with Diane and Matthew. We love being with the kids, too, of course. But sometimes being adults is fun, too! Apologies for the less than excellent birthday picture of very beautiful lovely daughter-in-law.

1 comment:

Jean said...

It was such a pleasure to meet you both. It's weird: when I meet blogger friends who seem so familiar, it always feels as if you must have been here in person all along and very odd to think you are just passing through briefly and will soon be far away again.