Saturday kicked off another trip to the Big Smoke with the aim of seeing Mr Moore and his compatriots re-imagine a journey through the English. Apropos, non? We took the train into Liverpool Street station and then stopped at Hamilton Hall for a pint and lunch with Ruth. I love burgers with slabs of real bacon on top! Even better to enjoy them in the opulence of an old hotel ballroom. Mr Murphy headed off for the finer establishments of Whitechapel, while Ruth and I headed toward the Tate Mod.
We stopped at St. Paul’s on the way, to see how the Occupy London folks were doing. Wonderful to see so many exhortations to social justice and reminders that this was a peaceful protest (regardless of what the Oakland police might think). Glad to see the scaffolding around the church gone, but somehow wonderful to see all the tents and the people speaking from the steps with power and conviction. St. Paul’s was built upon a temple of Diana, so no surprise the hunter goddess inspires the urge to fight back.
We had fun watching the Tacita Dean film piece in the turbine hall at the Tate Modern, even more so watching the people watch it. One kid tried to leap over the waves, another tried to capture the falling bubbles. We headed up to the Rothkos — my weakness! Fortunately, Ruth is also fond of them. We sat for quite a time in that quiet place chatting. Ruth is a fascinating woman who’s lived in France for some years though now based in London for a time. She repairs vintage fans — what a rare skill! She’s also designing scarves and does botanical painting. I’m always in awe of people who can do tangible things (like the rest of my family). I’m all thumbs.
We headed up to the Barbican in a cool clear London eve. I was really lucky with weather, bringing the sunshine with me, of course! Disappointing to find that there was a pre-concert talk we missed and that Shirley Collins was ill and wouldn’t be performing, but the show made up for those minor sighs. Front row seats! How to describe it all? JB Priestly’s English Journey mashed up with “Northamptonshire Peasant Poet” John Clare’s own journey from the asylum in Essex to his home, thinking he was going to meet his dead first love, and the paintings of Turner and Martin. Sinclair looking like a librarian (to me anyway 🙂 reading from his own works of travel and place, Alan — in his peacock blue long coat with sparkly paisleys and those spotted shoes, looking elegant — reading from Voice of the Fire as well as Clare’s own works with his usual arresting delivery. The video pieces set the scene, from London to Newcastle, where poet Tom Pickard brought the audience in the second half. The music — both live and recorded — featured Susan Stenger on flute and samples, Steve Tyler on hurdy-gurdy, Andy May on border pipes (which looked like Uilleann pipes) and the amazing FM Einheit on percussion.
You know what a sucker I am for percussion (Evelyn Glennie rocks!) but Einheit was a madman! Tapping and pounding on a big sheet of steel, later hammering and drilling on it too as well as throwing buckets of pebbles (I got hit by one 🙂 and then breaking cement blocks on it, too, with the hammer and then with the bits of block. Wonderful! He also played upon a huge steel coil. I loved it. He also had great hair and an amazing profile. Magnificent show. Very pleased.
Sunday was more leisurely: up early to watch the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup. Love the Haka! Watched the Bukowski doco, Born into This, then I was allowed to visit Murphy’s local where Americans were rare. They seemed to think I was all right for a Yank. Later we watched The Guard which many people have recommended to me which was fun. The Monday morning flight was a bit too early, but that’s the jet-setter life, eh?
Hard to believe it’s nearly Halloween…