24 March 2006

London: sights, sounds, etc.

I had a holiday last weekend: my first visit to London since 1999. As always I found the place overwhelming. It’s a great place to vist for a few days, but I’m glad I live in Glasgow.

For me, the highlight of the weekend was our visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, specifically the St John's Bible display. It is a modern illuminated Bible still in the process of being created for St John's Abbey, Minnesota. The images are stunning. For example, the folios displaying Ezekiel 37 show a dark and atmospheric valley of dry bones, such as might be left after some apocalyptic battle.

I also visited the Courtauld for the first time. In addition to a remarkable collection of important impressionist works, I was particularly struck by Cranach’s Temptation of Adam. The other unexpected highlight of the Courtauld was the basement café: excellent French food at what for London was an incredibly low price.

Since we were in London, we could hardly avoid the theatre. On Friday night we went to see Glorious!, a play about Florence Foster Jenkins, the wealthy eccentric New York socialite whose notoriously bad singing earned her the title of the ‘diva of the sliding scale’. Maureen Lipman played Jenkins and I must admit to some disappointment in her performance (or more probably the part she was forced to play). In spite of that I found the play as a whole very funny. Some of the audience reactions were quite amusing too: the woman in front of us who maintained a stony face throughout and who (apparently) glared at me more than once when I laughed; the silence that met one of the characters' comment that ‘We’re all friends of Dorothy here' (one of the central characters is called Dorothy and another central character is gay).

Saturday night was Shakespeare: the RSC performing As You Like It. It was a first-class performance with some very clever scene changes. I was particularly struck by the acting of Lia Williams (Rosalind) and Joseph Mydell (Jaques). However, even very strong performances could not completely disguise the fact that this is not one of Shakespeare's better works.

On Sunday we went to a morning service at All Souls, Langham Place. As you would expect from one of Anglicanism's foremost preaching shops, the sermon was superb. But I was left wondering what has become of (evangelical) Anglican worship. It looks as if the Eucharist has been marginalized to 8.30 a.m. and the singing was monotonously hearty. Under the watchful eye of Noel Tredinnick everything had to be sung at double forte regardless of the text!

1 comment:

EuropeanTop said...

Hello and thanks for the opportunity to read and post on your blog.

I’ve just posted an article related to travel tips for seniors on my blog and I thought maybe you’d be interested in reading it. Here is short preview of some of the areas I covered:

- Prefer a backpack on wheels instead of a suitcase, you could pull it behind you when your back hurts or you are exhausted.
- Consider checking your bag in with the airlines, because it would become an unnecessary burden to be dragged all over the airport or the city if you are going to have a short visit.
- You could stay outside the city, in a hostel maybe, because it is cheaper, less crowded and the air is much fresher, but you have to walk or use the transport more, to get in the city or to the station.
- Most museums, some concert halls, railways, airlines, bus lines, ferry and shipping lines have a discount policy for seniors.
- Electronic devices are useful but sometimes they can give you a lot of headaches. You could help yourself with a micro-tape recorder to record your notes. It would be easier than to write and you would put them down on paper later, to share your notes with your family.
- If you bring a camera with you to keep the beautiful images alive along the time then make sure you know how to handle it or you might fail to record them not only on that camera but also in your eyes.

For more resources on how to travel to Europe you are welcome to visit my blog, where you can also get acces to some excellent maps of London and London hotels, together with information on restaurants adn rent a car services.

Best regards,

Michael R.