British Summer Time

Last week was exhausting. An English friend who has moved to Melbourne visited. Having built up enough air miles on his credit card he had a whistle stop visit to England to see his family and dropped in to see on Monday night.

I saw him at Christmas but other than that not for years. He dropped his bag, we opened a couple of beers and within minutes were talking about solar power and cellular automata – I guess people don’t change. Well, maybe we do, we both seemed to have grown more stubborn. After an excellent Indian at Noori’s in Ship Street, we found ourselves in The Fishbowl pub and my friend attempted to talk to some locals while I attempted to photograph him and them. The people objected and asked me to wipe the pictures. This sort of pettiness depresses me and makes me recall the time I spent in California and the open, friendly way that people talked to each other. I recall entering Mel’s in Santa Barbara with a friend one evening singing New York New York at the top of our voices. Someone in the bar bought us both a beer for what must have been an awful performance. – as Tony Hancock said: “Not here though” . We left the pub and found ourselves at home dozing in chairs by 1:30am.

On Saturday night I joined some friends in The Quadrant for a few beers. They had some comedy going on upstairs and so we paid our fiver and went up to a wonderful comfortable room. Big arms chairs, an open window. Small but not cramped a perfect contrast to The Komedia.
The comedian came on and predictably began asking people where they were from. He seemed to settle on Australia for a while. In fact he seemed stuck on Australia. His style was frantic, never leaving time to breath. Sadly, we left before he finished his act.

Monday I visited London to see the Picasso exhibition at The National. Clever man Picasso but I wasn’t too impressed by viewing lots of his old drawings which seemed to have been created before he figured out what he was doing. The chunky nude was good but I think I may have been spoiled by visiting Reina Sofia in Madrid a couple of times.

The real star of the show on Monday was the weather. Brighton had been rainy but by 1:30pm in London it was warm and the sun was burning it’s way through the cloud. Trafalgar Square was gorgeous.

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar Square

I walked along to Piccadilly Circus and then along Piccadilly and up to Speakers Corner. Here I found one fairly vanilla Christian with some placards, two Muslims, who appeared to be having a break, and a lone communist.

Hyde Park
Hyde Park

Walking along Bayswater Road I reflected that central London can resemble a ghost town on Sundays and bank holidays. Despite the beautiful balconies on the houses along the Bayswater Road there were no French windows thrown wide. No families enjoying the sunshine. The windows were all closed and it appeared that nobody was at home.

I walked down through Kensington Gardens and watched a heron catch a fish then down to The Albert Memorial with it’s fantastic gold finish and amazing statues.

As I walked around the back of Buckingham Palace along Grosvenor Place I wonderred who exactly owns the buildings which cluster around Her Majesties rear entrance. I started noting down the names on the brass plates:

Hemsley Fraser Group – Management & Leadership Training Courses
Trafalgar Management Services Ltd.
Adrenaline Advertising – Billboards
Weldon Walsh Chartered Architects and interior designs
The Irish Embassy
Tata
HSBC

I shall go no further with that metaphor.

The Telegraph’s expose of MP’s expenses continues and The Archbishop of Canterbury complained that the revelations could undermine faith in democracy. It’s odd how the establishment always trot out this argument when they’ve done something wrong. It amounts to: “We’re too important to be prosecuted”. It would be interesting to see a teenage shoplifter use the same argument: “You can’t prosecute me m’lord, it would undermine the public’s faith in the youth of today”.

It occurred to me that the editor of the Telegraph must have an overall strategy for his stories. He must have decided to start with some explosive revelations about Labour ministers, follow this up with an illumination of the dealings of the Tories and then continue on to cover the liberals. Having got the best out of the way at the start the public may now be somewhat inured to the scandal and the occasional revelation appears no more than a damp squib. However, like any good firework display the activity should increase dramatically toward the end and we await the final blast of one enormous air bomb. I wonder: who will it be?

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