Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Trip to London
That evening we ate at a little bistro in Islington which was full of theatre-goers before crossing the road to the Almeida Theatre. The play, Becky Shaw, was excellent. Dark humour, very well written and at no point did I have that theatre moment where you're very aware that these are actors on the stage, not the characters they are portraying. It's a lovely theatre too with a stage that revolves to reveal the next set.
We were sat next to an American fellow who'd lived in Geneva for 20 years. He worked in International Property Rights at the United Nations. Great conversations during the interval.
The brunch was a full english breakfast but none of your greasy caff stuff here. The sausages were proper butcher's affairs, the rashers were thick and tasty, the eggs done just right. There were hash browns too. Not thoroughly english, I don't think. A touch of over-the-pondness to them.
Theses vast classical buildings were constructed between 1987 and 2008 by Terry Quinlan in the style of the architect John Nash. They are quite outrageous, situated in Regent's Park overlooking the canal. Not too far from the zoo, so they doubtless have an interesting background sound track.
The towpath passes through the zoo, right next to the beautiful aviary designed by Lord Snowdon and built in 1964. It was wash time for the pelicans as we walked past.
After the pelicans and mansions and canal it was time for a bit more culture. A dash to the Royal Academy of Arts by Very Slow Bus caught in traffic. The dash was purely in the mind except for the last hurtle down Piccadilly. I'd bought tickets in advance, and you have to give a time. I'd said two and it was already half past. This being London, not Dublin, we didn't know how much it mattered. The woman on information didn't seem bothered. I doubt whether anything much perturbed her. She looked through the envelopes of pre-booked tickets, asked for our address, sighed a little. I mentioned that I'd booked on the phone, the online form getting in a tizz about the lack of postcode.
'Oh, you booked by phone,' she said in a tone you might use on a child walking mud into the house.
'Did she ask?' I said to Joe as we left the desk. 'Did she ask if we'd booked by phone or online?'
'No,' he said. 'She never asked.'
The exhibition of Modern British Sculpture was incredibly interesting. The most amazing and powerful piece was 'Adam' by Jacob Epstein. Some gorgeous works by Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore. Then we were into the very modern including Damien Hirst's 'Let's Eat Outdoors Today', two perspex boxes full of flies, rotting food and maggots. There was half a pear hanging from the ceiling with half an apple glued to the cut side. And by artist Gustav Metzger, a line of pages of The Sun's page three stuck to the wall. Co-curator Penelope Curtis said
"We chose this piece because it reflects quite well on the literary, journalistic day by day quality of the way we perceive British culture now. How, for most people, the way they understand what British culture is, is through the press, through imagery, through magazines so it comes to you pre-digested."
I wonder whether Gustav Metzger, who is 84, chose it for the same reason.