London 1 – London makes me loquacious….. 2011

Sunday night and I think I am overstimulated. We’re in the middle of a rare 2 day heatwave. Today about 30 degrees and part of tomorrow, 32. First, this morning I was upgraded. I asked for a Thames-side room and have been given one with a river and garden outlook. Its advantage is that it is a handicapped room….. Much bigger and the handrails in the bigger bathroom give me somewhere to dry the knickers.

Hernando, the Brazilian boy who organized it has taken to saying “God bless you” whenever he sees me. Probably one small advantage of not being young.

My room is under the EYE, kitty corner from the Houses of Parliament


Did I mention that the London Eye is outside my window as well and I can see the National Theatre and Waterloo Bridge? I tried being Vivian Leigh but I’m too feisty. The National Theatre,  Queen’s Concert Hall and Hayward Gallery are all on Southbank too. Their modernist concrete architecture is not wearing well

Through the throngs at the Southbank Festival, I notice that statue imitation in a range of improbable costumes seems to be the busking mode du jour.






Then up the Strand and through Convent Garden in a long way to the British Museum. (I will try to stop place-passing name-dropping).

The British Museum

The British Museum of memory was a charming reading room with original  manuscripts and the Rosetta stone. In the intervening 20 years something happened. It is now an imposing museum of antiquities with a grand central court glass-roofed, and the Reading Room was shut. I miss the old place..

They do the Egyptians proud (though not my go) and the Assyrian stuff is great.

This chap comes from Niveah on the Tigris river (Now in Iraq) about 7th century BC. He was an Assyrian.


Disappointed with the Phoenician and Hittite stuff. How much of any of it should be here anyway?….would the Elgin marbles  be sold now to pay the Greek debt if they were still there? The displays are excellent and funnily photos are allowed while they are not in most smaller museums around the world. Crowds huge but it is Sunday.

There was an exhibition on Christian relics  ($18 to see). Stunningly curated. I have been thinking a lot about curating  mostly to realize how bad the Australian Museum and the Powerhouse in Sydney are – confusing in physical, chronological and thematic layouts.

It evokes the past

A group of brave Iranians were outside the Museum collecting signatures against the damning in the south of Iran which they say will destroy Persepolis, inter alia. Surely no-one could take that wonder away from the world. How I remember the sweeping staircase, the reliefs of all the  peoples whose names have been lost to history and the charming older Iranian who told me he wished to fly free as a bird… perhaps in another life.

I sat under an oak in Bloomsbury Square thinking about my old friend Dick, who is dead now. He knew about everything and first told me about Persepolis which I went to see, in part based on his description of the staircase. Sometime in the late 70’s Dick and I had our photo taken in front of a statue of John Henry Newman here in London. He took me to a famous person’s party in Little Venice where I had determined to have my one and only one night stand ( in tribute to the 60’s when I missed doing so).

I did have a flutter with a journalist and later bad novelist whom I stayed in touch with for days and then for years. What a failure as a child of the free love generation I was.

I also though about all the things in my life I had seen and lost because I had not recorded them. So, I am not going to apologize for this minutiae.

I had a drink in a pub in Drury Lane called The Sun. Remember the heat! It claimed that Oscar Wilde, Oliver Reed and Thomas Edison revered the place. They would have all been fun. I’ve yet to have a good cup of coffee here but maybe because I have been reduced to Starbucks since they have free wifi.

My feet are killing me. I hope they have recovered for the Tate Modern and Tracy Emin at the Hayward tomorrow. Lunch with my friend , Robert, should help.

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