My computer went kaput yesterday so I couldn’t blog about last night – which is no biggie, because yet again, jet lag grounded us. Instead we went to Reckless Records. I go to the Chicago stores all the time, and find it interesting that there’s a London Reckless. We then wandered around the West End. We snacked at Wok to Walk, which is fast-food Chinese, a more mobile Panda Express, I guess…It’s funny because I don’t remember much of what we did but it was late when we got back home – after midnight.
I woke up at seven in the morning to the dulcet tones of one of my flatmates yakking into toilet. Apparently it was a busy night for the Italian guys we’re sharing the house with because one of them was sick for like fifteen minutes. After trying to get back to sleep, I just settled on reading for a bit before we set off for the Victoria & Albert Museum.
On the way, we had a picnic lunch in the National Museum’s grounds. Interestingly enough, we sat next to a mother-and-daughter duo we saw on the Tube the other day – the daughter was engrossed in Tolkien’s The Hobbit, barely listening to her mom. We saw them again today in the park. For such a gigantic city, it was pretty funny to run into these two.
The V&A is incredible. We started in the Islamic room first. And I had a thought: all of the dummies whoever call Muslims barbaric or uncivilized should take a field trip to the Islamic room at the V&A. The center of the room had a massive rug protected by glass. There were some gorgeous jugs, plates and traditional dress, as well. We moved on to the Chinese room and saw pottery – I even got to touch a Ming dynasty jug.
We also looked at European antiquities, but didn’t have much time to look through…
On Friday evening, we went to the Scoop at More London, which is an outdoor amphitheater by City Hall, where we watched the Merry Opera Company perform an original production, Kiss Me, Figaro – a romantic comedy about love backstage at a performance of La Boheme. The singers were great, even if I found the performances a touch broad, and because we were right next to London Bridge, the performers had to compete with the airplanes flying overhead – not to mention passersby who gabbed on their phones, regardless of the ongoing performance. The cool thing was it looked like an American junior high school group met and the kids were funnily rowdy – one bought a souvenir catapult, and kept lobbing popcorn at his friends.
On our first Saturday, we decided to lay low and just hang out in our neighborhood.
On Sunday we had a late start and realized that everything closes early. Though we stopped by the gayborhood and had a drink at the Rupert Street Bar. During our drinks, a very drunk young Irish guy came up to us, swaying like one of those inflatable Tubemen you see in front of gas stations. He was so drunk that when he lifted his glass to his mouth, his beer just simply washed over his mouth. He then thoughtfully handed me his empty glass and staggered away. And we were surprised to find out that on Sundays, bars close at midnight, so we left as the Rupert Street was shutting down.
On Monday, we got to go to the National Gallery – this felt like a proper museum, full of old masters’ paintings – Leonardo da Vinci, Michaelangelo, that sort of thing. It was incredible – and intimidating. I loved it though because it was really great being able to see these wonderful works of art, reproduced like nuts up front. For example, Quinten Massys’ An Old Woman (The Ugly Duchess), I’ve seen reproduced in so many books – I think I even remember having an old copy of The Duchess of Malfi with that painting on the cover – so it was a treat to see the thing in real life.
Because we saw posters of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s new film The Young and Prodigious T.S. Spivet everywhere, we decided to go and see it – I loved Amelie and A Very Long Engagement, but we kept missing the time…
On Wednesday night we made our way to East London to the George Tavern to watch the Jerico Orchestra – a performance art/musical act. The George Tavern’s great because it’s really divey looking from the outside, but very welcoming inside.. The Jerico Orchestra is a really cool band – there was a bassist, a guitarist, a guy working a synth and a projectionist. It was challenging, because it wasn’t identifiable, pretty music, but it was a neat experience – it felt more like a happening.