Monday, 24 August 2009

weekend in London around 7-Aug-2009

This has turned out to be a story of buses: it seemed a good idea in the heat to make even more use of them than I normally do... [Behind that thought is the ease of use, due to good organisation of bus stops, information and cheap fares via Oyster.]

Usually in August, central London non-tourist spots are quiet as folk are away on holiday. On the other hand this weekend the top pubs are boosted by GBBF attendees.

On Friday afternoon bus 87 took me from the Strand to Tate Britain for exhibs Eva Rothschild & Classified Contemporary Art

ER: abstract shapes made from struts, in the central hall of TB - the sort of thing which needs an explanatory notice, if one can be bothered to find it and read it - I couldn't.

CCA: a mix of second-rank items of post-War art, concentrating on the shock items of the YBA - OK if new to you but a bit of a yawn otherwise.

Then I hopped on bus 88 from the back of TB towards Political Westminster to revisit 6 years on the characterful pubs there, on the basis they should be quiet at this time of year. All seemed well with the top-quality pubs and I tried a new one for me: the Adam & Eve, another delightful old-style pub.

Bus 15 then took me from Parliament Sq to St Pauls, where the Pizza Express was quiet (which wouldn't have been true out of holiday season) and then bus 11 took me further east for the historic Bell in Bush Lane which had more visitors than workers (normally it would be heaving with post-work Suits).

Bus 15 then took me back west for the Edgar Wallace, which was surprisingly quiet (nearby the Devereux Arms was packed and out of interesting beers - normally these two are similarly busy).

Saturday

Started with a bus 9 ride to Piccadilly for the Fleming Collection's exhib of Sir Muirhead Bone, the noted draughtsman, patron and war artist. Yet another fine exhib at this low-profile gallery.

At the back of the Royal Academy (reusing some very elegant classical spaces) the new Haunch of Venison gallery had various exhibs on - a mixed bag of modern art. The best item was on the elegant stairs - cute figures something like the Adipoise critters recently in Dr Who.

Hopped on bus 38 to the Cartoon Museum for their Rowland Emett exhibition: his drawings and some of his working contraptions - wonderful stuff! Happy childhood memories. The work for the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang film features strongly (a film I hated as it has little in common with the much-loved book).

Bus 8 along High Holborn brought me to Holborn Circus too early, so I did a bit of exploring aroung Hatton Garden, including the characterful Bleeding Heart Yard. (There's supposed to be a way through to Ely Place and that now seems to be part of the posh restaurant in the far corner of the Yard of the same name.)

The historic Ye Olde Mitre opened early, about 11:55. As the GBBF weekend is the only weekend it opens, I was keen to make the effort to see if new owners Fullers have changed it. Answer: no, in fact it's even better, with a week-long Scottish beerfest on.

In the evening I made the 30-min Northern Line journey to Hampstead - my first proper trip to North London. The Old Hampstead Village guided walk was fascinating, taking place around the crest of the hill which is the core of Hampstead: a maze of lanes and paths, all at different slopes. Some classic pubs too: The Holly Bush (near the converted hospital where Sporty & Scary Spice live) and Ye Olde White Bear. Lots of history and famous people. The guide is the author of The History of London before if got burned down which I'd loved to have seen at the Jermyn Street Theatre last year.

Snippet from the walk: 'Judges Walk', at the top, beside the Heath, records where the law courts were held during the Great Plague.

Sunday

Bus to Bank, DLR to Olympics site and the nearby Three Mills Locks once again, to see the progress. The organisation of workers - transport and entry - is thoroughly organised now, with a huge base by Pudding Mill Lane station. The huge new Locks are in service, giving access for huge barges.

DLR to Tower Gateway, bus RV1 to Tate Modern. Exhibs: Per Kirkeby and Futurism and Stutter. Again, nothing that really stands out. I had high hopes of the Futurism one and it seemed to cover all the basics but without any really stunning items.

Along Bankside to the Oxo Gallery: 30Y, 30 Artists: pretty much what it says, for a London group of printmakers.

I popped in to the Duchess Theatre to book for Endgame - 1st preview Fri 18th Sep - in what was supposed to be Richard Briers last stage production. Since then, he pulled out and the production was put off until October (they re-booked me accordingly).

I tried again to book the Comedy Theatre for Prick Up Your Ears on Sat 19th Sep but again it and its sister theatre The Duke of York's weren't open. The latter used to have extended box office hours and readily book for any production within the Ambassadors group, but on my last trip they refused to take my booking.

To the NG for Corot to Monet - French Landscapes under the influence of Constable & co. Many very fine paintings and showing the development history very well.

On the Fourth Plinth the current One & Other was a Master of Wine lecturing and doing Q&A - I think a lot of professions have used the platform in such ways.

USA double standards

The Times today: Lockerbie release could topple Scottish government

I like this follow-up comment, posted there:

    John Andersen wrote:

    Former Lt.William Calley recently apologized in Atlanta for his murder of 21 innocent men, women and children in My Lai. 500 were murdered in total. Only Calley was found guilty. He only served 3 years of house arrest. Americans have very flexible values when it's Americans doing the killing rather than when it's Americans being killed. Some lives, it seems, are more equal than others.

    Remind me, how many years of house arrest did al-Megrahi serve?
    August 24, 2009 12:36 PM BST

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Cambridge, United Kingdom