Guns and Frocks

Loving Delta and the Bannermen since 1987

White wine

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

So my flight to Amsterdam was cancelled. After queuing for about three months at the BMI ticket sales counter, I was allocated a seat on a flight an hour and a half later. Not to worry, I thought: Calvin to the rescue. I’ll just swan around in the BA lounge for a while, using the diamond (diamond!) club membership he so thoughtfully organised.

No luck though. I’m in Terminal 1, and the Cathay Pacific lounge is in Terminal 3. The nice lady refuses to let me into the British Airways lounge because I’m flying BMI. That makes me insufficiently patrician, I think.

So here I am surrounded by commoners, reading the Guardian and waiting for my flight to be called. The gate opens 5 minutes before the flight is due to leave, so I don’t expect to be leaving on time.

Amsterdam!

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

I’m finally here, three hours late, but I’ll be buggered if I’m gonna hang around in my hotel room blogging. I’m off down the canals to the Leidseplein for a beer. I’ll catch you all later!

Last day in London

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Looking along a London street with beautiful old buildings each side. Near us, on the right hand side and in shadow, is an awning marking the entrance to Harvey Nichols.

Glamorous morning yesterday. Ange dropped Joseph and the kids off at school, and the two of us headed into town. First stop: floor five at Harvey Nichols. Ludicrously expensive muffins and coffee, surrounded by women in scary makeup and black leather pants. (This cost us £22: if I’m sleeping in the streets of Sorrento in a fortnight, you’ll know why.) Then where else but Harrod’s, where we found a scarily realistic waxwork of the owner benignly but insanely overseeing his customers, while the man himself was busily accusing everyone in the Western world of complicity in Diana’s death. Looked at lipstick and ties for a bit before heading off to the food court for lunch. Fabulous!

But it wasn’t all high culture. Ange escorted me to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s extraordinary. I can only compare it to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (of which more later), in that it consists of room after room of baffling objects from all over the world and all throughout history. I spent some time looking at neolithic Chinese burial artefacts, before wandering desultorily through the rest of the museum. The highlights included some huge tapestry patterns by Raphael and corridors of wrought iron railings. I was about to give up when I came upon an extraordinary room.

Apparently the Victorians loved doing plaster casts of churches and statues and monuments. One room in the V & A contains giant casts of Trajan’s Column, as well as dozens of Christian artefacts, including the huge main doorway of the church at Santiago de Compostela. The adjoining room has a huge plaster statue of David. Impressive and curiously kitsch at the same time!

I gave the Science Museum a try, but apart from Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, nothing really grabbed me, so I headed off to the Natural History Museum in search of dinosaurs. Entering by the side door, I mistakenly thought that the entire museum was obsessed with geology. I was about to leave disappointed (sorry, Sara), when I found a wall covered in dozens of fossil ichthyosaurs, and then the museum’s entry hall with its massive Diplodocus skeleton.

Had a quick pint in Charing Cross Road before meeting Sarah in Soho. We had a delicious dinner of tapas, walked across Waterloo Bridge, more pints, and then off home to Gary’s place. A great night. I must try and see Sarah more often. If that means coming to London more frequently, well I guess that’s what I’ll have to do.

Today was altogether quieter. Wandered around Dulwich with Ange and her friend Rachel. A delicious pub lunch, my last pints of English bitter for the foreseeable future (tomorrow, Heineken), and now home, blogging and preparing for my plane to Amsterdam tomorrow morning.

A whiff of Joan Collins

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Off to Harrod’s and Harvey Nicks today. Fabulous!

I’ve still had very little time to blog. Another brief summary. Saturday: the Old Naval College, lunch courtesy of M & S, the Maritime Museum, Greenwich Observatory. Dinner and clubbing with Peter. Sunday: Hyde Park, South Kensington, Chinatown. Two episodes of Torchwood.

Leaving Wednesday morning for Amsterdam. Thinking of France after that. I’ll have time to write more when everything settles down.

In short

Friday, 15 February 2008

Well, I was away from my computer on Thursday, and we got home quite late last night, so this is my first entry for a couple of days. So what have I been up to?

Very briefly. Thursday: breakfast out, quick visit to Dulwich College, British Museum, dinner and drinks with Peter. Friday: trip to Oxford, lovely lunch with Joseph’s parents and sister, quick walk around town, back home for an hour of crap British TV.

Not a very detailed or evocative post, I know. I promise to revisit all this in more detail in a couple of days. (Remind me to tell you the story about the Bassae sculptures.) Heading off to Greenwich today, and out tonight with Peter and Sarah. There will be dancing, apparently.

Until next time, enjoy this photo of snowdrops near the river in Oxford. I’ll write again soon.

In the foreground, clumps of tiny white flowers beside a brown road. Behind them trees, and then grassy lawns, and then some brown brick buildings in the distance.