Saturday, 10 January 2015

9  -10 January 2105 London Trip

9th. January. 2015

Sitting in a tiny room on the fifth floor ( if you include the basement) of a Kensington Upstairs/Downstairs house, now a hotel, listening to sounds of London in what would have been a maid's bedroom, I guess. Thinking of 19th century British Columbia and the smallpox epidemic that wiped out half the first nation people. So a strange spiky woman decided to draw and paint their art, and works before it died. Her name was Emily Carr. In time she found her way to San Francisco, London, and Paris to study. But returned after, to her woods and solitude. She's here again at Dulwich Gallery and I'm so lucky to have seen her work today. Her defiant and defensive eyes in her self portrait reached out to me. She and her wonderful work are my Companions tonight. 8--)

10th January 2015
Two of my favourite London things:

1.The most touching war memorial, to animals. It's on Park Lane.
2. Chelsea Bridge, the most absolute jewel, lit up at night.

Today I managed to see the William Morris Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, briefly, because Saturday morning is full of crowds.
It was fascinating to see how he was known as a thinker and poet more than an artist and designer in his day...linked up with all sorts of people. And his arts and crafts movement, of small, local groups of makers and creators appealed to the guild element of the Union Movement. Helped move us away from communism into social democracy, the nascence of the Labour Party, and influenced the garden city movements inter-wars, our green belt movement, and even the festival of Britain designs and the designs of new cities after the war.
He is relevant today because of his ethos that we make things, value their beauty, and value nature.
I looked at contemporary pics after that. The Postlethwaite was terrific, and Olivia Coleman is beautiful. The Judi Dench was lovely. I actually flinched away when I saw Blair.

After that I walked up to China town and went to a little restaurant full of Chinese (always a good sign!). They were lovely to me and I had crispy duck with pancakes.

Having taken the Tube Underground in this morning I decided to get a black cab after, back to Marble Arch and the bus to Oxford. He told me all about 'The Knowledge'. It takes three years -- they have to know every street, building, monument, famous place, etc. by heart. They have to know the shortest quickest routes in a 12 mile radius. Their licenses are holographed to stop fake black cab drivers. Those who do best own their own black cabs His costs £10,000 a year just to maintain!

The guy in the mini-cab last night was great to discuss politics with but had failed his 'knowledge'. He said it didn't matter now we have sat-navs. This black cab guy showed me in five minutes how that was rubbish. Wherever a road was blocked he just zipped around it. Last night the man was dependent on his sat-nav and we were stuck in a jam for an hour and a half.
I think that is linked to the William Morris story.

If I can get less stress now, I now feel confident about traveling to Canada on my own again, and travelling distances to read. What a wimp I'd become with all the years of injuries, and illness! I, who once drove across Canada and back, twice by myself; and flew back here to Blighty alone to live, with only a 6 year old child, two suitcases, a small bag of toys and a kid's bike!

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