Saturday, 7 June 2014

One week in London...

Have just lived through possibly the busiest week of my life. London, how could you do this to me?!

I'm starting off with this very gorgeous sunset, captured Thursday evening on my way home. Although it looks almost post-nuclear, it's just proof of the old saying: "Red sky at night, sailors' delight...", because Friday was absolutely beautiful: soft warmth, blue sky – perfect. Of course it was, because most of the population was at work. Now that it's Saturday, the rain and greyness are out in force.

But back to the week... Aside from various teens and young relies coming and going for stay-overs on various nights, it went like this:

Monday A farewell dinner for the very delightfully positioned Queen's Wood writing group. We always met – at the kind generosity of one of our members, who runs the place – at the Queen's Wood Café in (obvs) Queen's Wood. This is one of those lovely things that make life in this city more than bearable: once the Victorian home of the woodsman and his family, now a café tucked into the ancient woods, which have thankfully been left alone to be woods, without a great deal of 'managing' and manicuring. As an ex-New Yorker, it's still astonishing to me that such a thing can exist in a world capital, a little pocket of left-alone old world.

At any event, a lovely meal and wonderful to see the writing group one last time, gathered for a jolly vegetarian spread provided by the café. It has been a treat to be one of the lucky ones who got to duck under the chain with the CLOSED sign on it, and waltzed in. I look forward to enjoying the friendships made there even if we're not meeting monthly.

Tuesday I made the post-work dash from Shoreditch to the West End, with my record of 45 minutes. Even so, I was just late enough to miss Sir Tim Rice's introduction to the cast and crew preview screening of his (now-filmed) musical From Here to Eternity, which they kindly gave me a plus one to and so I had a chum to watch it with. What did I think? A tricksy one. In truth, I'm not really a musicals kind of person. The songs often seem to just get in the way of the story and I find myself with that oh-god-here-we-go-again feeling as the next person takes a deep breath. The sole recent exception to this has been Matilda, which is performed entirely in song and is never boring. But back to FHTE... A couple of the songs have stuck in my head, notably '30 Year Man', which is a good sign, and it was very well acted, with some complicated and entertaining dance and fight routines. But, overall, it was too long. My companion, who is more of a musicals person, thought it could have lost a good 20 minutes, so it wasn't just me. I know which bit could be dropped: at least a scene each from the love stories. There was also a disconcerting moment when the lead had a little pick of his nose before remembering he was being filmed, the image of which has unfortunately stayed with me. Still, for all you musical and Tim Rice fans, look out for this in cinemas across the UK and Ireland from 3 July.

Wednesday Are you getting tired yet? Because I sure was. But an old friend I barely see since our lives have diverged for various reasons (OK, entirely because I no longer go to an Agatha Christie book group he is a founding member of, but let me stress, this is not how we met: that goes back to a French film evening class some time ago, but that's definitely another story), so when he emailed to say he was going to be in The Bull (, post attending yet another book group (this one a more general mystery one), I said yes. He lives in deepest, darkest sarf London, so I don't know when I'd see him otherwise. I'm glad I went. Was good to see him and, also, I got to hear all the book-group gossip, which would make the basis for a good murder mystery all on its own.

Thursday A long-standing arrangement to meet up with a couple of chums for drinks at The Alwyne Castle definitely couldn't be cancelled, even though going meant the fourth night out in a row post-work. We ladies always seem to be so busy, that finding a night we're all free is like finding a hen's tooth and not to be dismissed lightly. V glad I went. lots of laughter and bonhomie and general merriness – plus, two very clever, good-company drinkers. Here's to next time, ladies. Cheers! (

Friday At last, but no rest for the weary. Tonight's fare was a Graham Parker and the Rumour concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, with support from Glen Tilbrook of Squeeze fame. Oh, yes. If you don't remember these folks, it's not too late to discover them. Actually, it probably is. When these old rockers come out, it's their original fan base who are roaring and stamping their appreciation, and the love going back and forth, well, let's just say a new generation might enjoy the music but could possibly feel a little left out. Or not. Don't want to dissuade anyone from having a listen. All I know is, on the way there, with a headache from peering at a computer screen all week, plus exhaustion from working full-time, going out every night and wondering how the heck a new working arrangement (which I have NOT bored you with, you lucky things) is going to slot in, I wondered if going was such a good idea. By the time we left, after over 2 hours of rocking out, I was energized. Thank you, Graham Parker and, my fave name of almost all time, Brinsley Schwartz, for a fab night. (And apols: this is not my picture of them.)

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