Of Jet Lag, Disappointing Theatre and Amazing Poetry and Science

I thought I was over the jet lag. I’ve been back at work since Saturday, and MasterB’s insistence on breakfast at seven in the morning has helped get at least that part of my routine re-established pretty quickly. I had one evening when I went to bed shortly before six. It was that or nod off on the sofa. The dark evenings haven’t helped me stay awake. By eight it feels like midnight. I tried having a second cup of coffee one day, but that was disastrous; I was jittery and jumpy, and speaking so fast my tongue felt seriously tired. However, day by day I was gradually staying awake longer and later.

But this week I had tickets to two events in the evening. The first, on Wednesday, was to a play at the National Theatre, the second to a poetry and science event at the Shaw Theatre. Both were with Celia and we have had the tickets for some weeks.

I love the National Theatre. It is quite simply one of the best theatres in the world in terms of the three auditoria it comprises, in terms of its creative vision and commitment, in terms of its productions. actually, it is probably the best theatre in the world. This is the home of War Horse, and the puppeteers who work their magic in that production say there is no other theatre in the world where this play would have been staged; the work that went on for months behind the scenes to make it possible would not have been contemplated anywhere else. You get spoiled in london. It is the the theatre capital of the world.

So you’ll understand I had high expectations of the evening. The play was by David Hare, a writer I respect. On the way there Celia told me the reviews had been mixed. We were surprised to see many of the seats were empty. My experience of the NT is almost uniquely of full houses and anticipatory audiences. The lights dimmed. The opening scene was great, snappy, clever, promising. bUt after that it was slow. A lot of polemic and not a lot to watch. My eyes began to close. I was still listening, but the voices were sounding more and more distant.

I made myself open my eyes. I’m a fidget at the theatre. some people stay in the same position throughout a play. I don’t. I move about in my seat, cross and uncross my legs and arms, reach for my water bottle, lean forward, lean back. This time a lot of my fidgeting was to keep awake. I thought I was doing quite well, but then my head dropped and woke me up. I didn’t last beyond the interval. I wasn’t sure if it was me or the play. Celia stayed. She texted me when it was over: thumbs down. Oh well, put that one down to experience. Continue reading

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Home is Where the Cat Is

I’m home. Phew. Right now I am feeling very tired and all I want to do is go to bed, but I intend to stay up for a few hours more. Also, I need to finish unpacking my bag.
New Zealand is amazing. Stunning. Beautiful. Pick your own adjective. I need to start saving for a second trip to the South Island. I’m glad I didn’t go there this time because it would have been so intense, and like going through a list, ticking off places seen. That’s not my preferred type of tourism. You can’t see everything. And sometimes the more you try to see the less you appreciate, understand or remember.
MasterB was not quite sure how to react when I arrived home. He was pleased to see me, but he and Birgit have established a different routine over the last five weeks, now he has to readapt to my routine. Right now he’s curled up beside me. He couldn’t be closer. He has also seen Celia who I bumped into on the Walworth Road when I was heading for the mobile phone shop to get a new U.K. sim to replace the one I lost.
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New Calendar, Feeling Better, and Heading Boatwards

It was around supper time last night when I realised the lurgy was leaving me and health once more was returning. Today, if not completely rebooted, my energy levels are up and I’ve cracking through my to do list. So the Walworth falafels are prepared. some are in the freezer, some are cooked and cooling down, ready to go in the car tomorrow when the plan is to head to das Boot. The forecast isn’t all that, but I’ve said no to work at this end of the week, and Older Nephew is able to join me for a day and return my keys.

High up on the to do list is MasterB’s 2019 calendar. It always takes far longer than I anticipate. I’ve made PDFs of two versions so far, but there has been a lot of swapping of photos, and I’ve sent copies to two people for their constructive criticism. A few days break from it will probably be a good thing.

I caught up with Celia this morning and we had a constitutional over to the Old Kent Road so I could recycle my electric blanket at the municipal site. Gentrification has not yet caught up with most of the Old Kent Road, which is the eastern boundary of Sunny Walworth, and it is dominated by large business properties designed more for practicality than aesthetics.

Still, there are gems in between. The Livesey, once a library, then a museum, now a place for children who cannot for one reason or another attend main stream school, is one of them. The Royal London Friendly Society building is another, though at ground floor level it is an ugly display of corporate bookmaking. Neither Celia nor I knew what the RLFS was, but thankfully the internet has enlightened at least one of us. If you want to be similarly enlightened, click here.

There’s a building that has a municipal air which houses a church. There are many churches of various hues along the Old Kent Road. This one has a very fine artwork on the outside giving a pictorial history of the area. the Romans, Chaucer’s pilgrims, Henry V all feature.

Chaucer’s pilgrims

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Choices

This morning, before the rain started, I was walking along thinking how nice it would be to see Michèle. I looked across the road, and lo, there she was. She saw me too and we waved at each other before she crossed to my side, and we walked and talked for a few minutes, going into Marks and Spencer where I completely forgot what I wanted to buy, before arranging to meet up on Tuesday evening.

Entertaining himself

While I was away Cousin, as is her wont, began to probe me about places where I might move. She knows I hanker after a larger home with a private garden for MasterB and myself. How about Cambridge were Older Nephew lives? That’s almost as expensive as London I answered, and logged on to RightMove to prove my point. And found three properties which would do me, one very well, within my price range.

But do I want to live in Cambridge? I have no idea. The thought of starting again, making friends and contacts with whom I am comfortably at ease is daunting. How long would it be before I would see a Michèle on the other side of the road? I’m not someone who minds her own company; indeed I relish and value my time alone, but choosing to be alone is quite different to not knowing anyone well, not having friends who are companionable, people who share the same values and interests. Continue reading

Oh Olympus TG3, Thou Art Sick

MasterB is fully recovered from his anaesthetic, and the fur on his throat is beginning to grow back.

Bare throat

He’s not so keen on the return of the hot weather. We enjoyed two days of lower temperatures and I assumed wrongly that summer would resume a more reasonable temperate course. The humidity builds up, and you think there’s going to be a storm, but then the winds come along and blow the humidity away leaving us with more temperatures in the high 20s and low 30s. Too hot for central London, and a country where we are ill equipped for extremes of weather.

I am starting to fantasise about rain; proper rain, though a good long shower to soak the earth and freshen the air would do. We haven’t had rain here since 28th May. And it would be really nice to have day off from watering the plants.

Guarding a watering can

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A Shout in the Night

It’s been a lovely weekend of blue skies and warm sunshine in London. Just a soft breeze and the temperature somewhere in the mid 20s C. Pretty perfect. The neighbours stayed quiet last night, no loud voices or braying laughter drifting through open windows until all hours, something that happens all too often for my liking in warm weather. So MasterB and headed off to bed bedtimes. I read for a while, finished a crossword and fell asleep.

Around two in the morning I woke as someone shouted “Put your hands up”. I thought at first I’d Been dreaming then realised there were quite a few voices. MasterB was growling, and when I opened the shutters to look out of the window, for once he didn’t leap up onto the sill to look too. Whatever it was, he didn’t want to get any closer.

It turned out to be lots of police officers and one man not in uniform. He was the one with his hands in the air while his pockets were searched and he was patted down. I heard an officer tell him he was under arrest and to put out his hands as he was to be cuffed. Continue reading

Snow is Falling, Snow on Snow

Two months too late, the words of those Christmas carols about snow and cold weather are perfectly suited to London. My apologies to those of you who live in places where snow is a regular winter occurrence and who are wondering what all the fuss is about. I live in the south of a country where the climate is temperate, so any extremes mean acres of newsprint and all conversations dominated by talk of the weather. Actually we always talk about the weather, this may be a big island, but it is an island and the weather can change in a matter of hours. A lot of visitors from overseas, even somewhere as close as France, have the misplaced belief that it rains in London everyday, heavily. Er no, it doesn’t. Drizzle is more our style, Rome and Paris have more rain than London. That’s a fact. Yes, I do get irritated by people who seem to think Brits are born with webbed feet. Climate crisis is changing that though, and downpours are becoming the new normal. The snow is probably part of the same pattern.
So my pictures from today start in our garden.

Fuchsia


I woke in the night and knew there had been more snowfall. There was a quality to the light that is peculiar to snow. I looked out of the window and saw everything covered in white.

Purple in the snow


Our poor flowers are suffering. There’s a pale pink hyacinth that’s completely buried.

Laden


Our plants today are bowed down with the weight of the snow.

Garden chair


Hartley was out and about early, but then must have retired inside. His apewprints were everywhere, and I saw him eyeing the bird feeders.

Mosaic with growth


When the snow goes I need to weed this mosaic. Continue reading

The North Wind Doth Blow

The current bout of cold weather is being called the Beast from the East. I think I prefer the poem:

The north wind doth blow, And we shall have snow, And what will poor Robin do then? Poor thing. He’ll sit in a barn, And keep himself warm, And hide his head under his wing, Poor thing.

Not a lot of snow in London, snow is a rarity here. I got my washing mainly dry on the line this morning, though until the sun reached it, some of it was stiff and frozen. It was bitterly cold, and my cuddle with Hartley was shorter than he wanted. He was curling up on my lap preparing for a snooze when I stood up and headed back indoors to the warmth of the flat. I didn’t think it was going to snow, the forecast showed a twenty per cent chance but the skies were blue. But as I knuckled down to some of the endless paperwork the room became very dark, and I looked up to see real snow, serious snow, swirling about. It started to settle. For about half an hour it continued, then stopped. Tonight there is some left, a smattering, and it will freeze, so tomorrow pavements will be icy and treacherous.

But it is pretty.

I had to photograph the honey fungus on the cherry tree to send pictures to a tree surgeon so I took a few more photos of the garden while I was at it. I don’t know where the robin was, but this male blackbird seemed happy enough.

Blackbird

I checked the bird feeders to make sure the resident avian community won’t starve.

Bird feeders

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As in Life, So in Death

As I mentioned in a reply to a comment from Pat the other day, I had a nice wander around West Norwood Cemetery at the weekend. It’s a big place, forty acres, and has a nice rise to the chapel and crematorium at the top, with splendid views across London. There was hardly anyone about, not even many dog walkers, which surprised me given what a great space it is close to streets of houses.

Even in death, maybe especially in death, it’s easy to pick out the rich, the powerful, the self-important and the famous. I couldn’t always find a name on the various tombs and mausoleums, but it was pretty obvious which ones had been particularly costly. Some are the size of beach huts, some largish summer houses. It was an uncomfortable thought that some of our dead are housed better than the living; homelessness is rife in London. It’s a national scandal. Today a homeless man was found dead yards away from the Palace of Westminster, the seat of the UK government.

Grand resting place

Striking a pose in death


Cosy


Gothic


At least one pigeon had found itself a upmarket abode.

Pigeon loft

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