Sunday, March 21, 2004

(Trafalgar Square 1)

Some days nothing in my nature is decisive. Like Sundays when, after being up much too late on Saturday, I have the energy to eat brunch and listen to Oscar Peterson, but little else. Days of a solitary and meandering mood.

In that vein, I present in no particular order, loose impressions from a fairly random week. Actually, I’ll never cover the week in one go, let’s stick with the last thing I mentioned here …

London with the posse of sociologists. An Australian, a South African, a Canadian and an American wander through Covent Garden looking for somewhere for a coffee and a snack (settling, lord help our lack of imagination, on PrĂȘt a Manger), we turn a corner:

Doug: “Um, would that be Nelson’s column and St Martin-in-the-Fields?”

Recognising things you’ve not seen in twenty-three years is a little disconcerting. I left the sociologists to go to their LSE lecture and stopped in at St Martin’s. A chamber music quartet was rehearsing for a Vivaldi recital, and it was gorgeous.

I drifted through Trafalgar square and photographed the ducks in the fountain. Wandered through a few rooms of the National Gallery to say ‘hi’ to Degas, Rousseau, Cezanne, Seraut and those other dudes of the late nineteenth century I always find kind of comforting.

Wound up at the National Theatre, Southbank, but the returned tickets were out of my price range (much easier to get cheapies over the net, ah well). Diversion was worth it for the view of Big Ben, a cyclops in the night sky, glowering through the ferris-wheel cage of the London Eye. I had always thought the Eye a singularly ugly and awful affliction upon the Thames riverside, but lit at night, towering over the windswept concrete blocks of Southbank it was beautiful.

Glass-fronted restaurants with starchy high-albedo tablecloths populated converted spaces under railway arches. I had a brief pang for the corporate solicitor’s life, but only briefly.

Wound up at the Royal Court watching the excellent “Ladybird” (by Vassily Sigarev) – a play about modern Russia. The characters seemed to fall out into three types: those adapted to the new Russia, essentially predators; the elderly (mostly killed by the young); and the rest, being brutalised, callous, but somehow innocently naive and optimistic. Strangely moving and uplifting. Strong performances and interestingly written characters. At first it was slightly amusing to hear English actors speaking in the British local-accent equivalent of their Russian characters, but in a world where Sean Connery can command a Russian submarine, it wasn’t a big adaptation to make.

On a tangent, provided the voice for the Viceroy of Portugal in a recent recorded version of “The Spanish Tragedy” done for a college drama society. Was asked by the director to re-do part of one speech with longer “a” sounds in some words like “chance”. My Australian “ahh” in “chaan-sss”, was (for a radio-style production) proving a little too much of a contrast to the surrounding BBC RP accents, so I did it again putting an “aar” in my “chaarn-sss” – and managed to suppress the urge to giggle.

The alternative, I suppose, would have been asking the “Portuguese” characters to sound more Australian. No-one else seemed to think this a terribly sensible suggestion.

(PS grossly overdue Naylor is up.)

(Trafalgar Square 2)

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