On Sunday Morning I phoned Shaun to see if he fancied doing anything - he did, so we agreed to meet in Greenwich - Fiona to confirm my sister's phone number (although as she'd just found out that the Place Below's Monday menu was excellent, we just agreed on Monday for lunch) and CJ simply because it's always a good idea (and he suggested hitting the Dev in the evening, which I also agreed to).
So first it was down to Greenwich station, by Northern line and DLR (I wish I could say by musket and sextant here, but unfortunately London'd a faily well-trodden path these days). After hanging around for a few minutes i found Shaun lurking in the ticket hall and we walked into Greenwich. First there was a bite at the High Chapparal, and then an amble around and into the park. Shaun had a weird and wonderful tale about racing downriver in a dragon boat and not being able to walk for several years afterwards. he was heading north after that, so we headed up to Kings Cross (getting turfed off the tube due a suspect packacke stopping the trains we wanted, and having a look at the London Stone on the way to another station) where I said goodbye. After a visit back to Kate's I moved the car to somewhere unregulated. It tok a while to find anywhere and it ended up being near Kentish Town, so I ended up being a bit late for meeting CJ, Kitty and a couple of others in the Dev for a couple of pints. This also was fantastic, but eventually we all had to leave and catch the bus home.
On Monday I got a bite to eat, read the paper, checked my mail in a local cheapiephonecallnetshopthing and then headed into the City. I was rather early to meet Fiona, so i had a wander around and looked at various historical things. I found the Guildhall and decided that I'd like to see the bits of amphitheatre, and got passed slightly later by two coppers on pushbikes. This would not be interesting except that they had bicycles with flashing lights and sirens, which they were using most enthusiastically. I visited a couple of bookshops looking for Bodies In Motion And At Rest, but didn't find it, and then met Fiona to return her books, have another excellent chat and a fantastic lunch. The crumble is indeed every bit as good as I was led to believe.
After that I walked most of the way back to Fiona's work with her before heading over the river and walking back to the Tate Modern. They have a small room with about half a dozen of Manzoni's achromes, which were rather interesting although I've a feeling I've seen a couple of them before, and various other things up at the top that I'd not made it to before. The big sound installation in the turbine hall was interesting, but I didn't enjoy it as much as the other couple of things I've seen there.
I walked back towards Kings Cross up Farringdon Road, past the crumbling market and the Guardian building, and had a look at a few things nearby on the way, like Farrindon station (Farringdon and High Holborn according to the brickwork outside) and Clerkenwell.
I didn't go anywhere during the evening. I had dinner and then caught up with some reading. I'd had studff through from the Genetics Society which was worthwhile. They also score over the Royal Microscopy Society in that they give out membership cards. I took a moment's childish pleasure in being a card-carrying geneticist.
Tuesday morning followed a similar pattern, after which I went wandering around the west end looking for the previously-mentioned book, which I eventually found egregiously mis-shelved by Borders, who don't seem to have an appropriate category for it. It was a very nice wander, but eventually I had to get back to drop off my bag and then head over to Kentish Town for Neubauten. It was an excellent gig, but I should probably talk abut it separately. I did also bump into various people there, which was rather pleasant, although i didn't get to talk to any of them for long. I ended up walking back to Islington via Agar Way, which is probably how I'd have planned it if I had actually planned it, and only seemed to take a little over half an hour.
The first part of Wednesday morning followed the now-usual relaxed routine, and then I headed over to the Science Museum. this was full of schoolkids, but I had a good wander around the quieter bits. It was entertaining seeing an ex-Aldermaston
Cray 1A, the command module from Apollo 10 and various other historical items. They're building a second difference engine, too, apparently, for a US museum who want one. It looks to be in the very early stages so far. I found an ABI 370, which was interesting as we didn't have any of them at the Sanger. The oldest I ever saw was a 373, although they look like very similar machines in terms of size and shape. It had a 16-well comb in, and presumably it didn't ever get up to the higher numbers of samples that the 373 did. There were some traces stuck up on the wall behind it, and these are interesting for two reasons. Firstly, for no readily apparent reason they came off a 373 rather than a 370. Secondly, and also for no readily aparent reason, they're total crap. Really. Utter shite and of no use to man nor beast. There was no part of them that actual sequence could be read off. Why they should choose to do this escapes me.
On the way out I asked some attendants at the information desk about John Dee's scrying ball. They weren't entirely sure, but said that they thought it had been recovered (but wasn't necessarily back in the building).
A touch after five I met Tom at Kings Cross. He'd already had a pint after saving his employers several million quid in an unusually short meeting. We went to a pub around the corner for a pint and then caught a bus out to Stoke Newington for some very nice Indian-style food at a place called Abi Ruchi, which gets my seal of approval (arf! arf!). Much chat. I hadn't seen Tom in way too long, which was entirely my fault. On the bus back I was accosted by a harmless local eccentric. He was very odd, but not unpleasant.
After the usual morning stuff I went down to the Strand and walked about for a bit, ending up back near St Pauls and then going to the Guildhall art gallery. I was really there for the amphitheatre, but the painting were both far more numerous and far more interestng than I expected. A lot of them were views of London from various periods, including several with Old London Bridge in them (one being a scene involving its demolition) and a fascinating one from One Tree Hill in what's now Greenwich Park, looking down towards the river and on across what were still open fields between there and the city. There was also an interesting little one of Edinburgh too. A lovely view of Princes Street and the Castle from Calton Hill. Very obviously, though, if you know Edinburgh, the particular view depicted doesn't actually exist. The viewpoint is clearly southwards of the line of Princes street, wile Calton Hill is in fact north of this line. For doubtless very good compositional reasons, the artist has moved Calton Hill a few hundred yards south to the other side of London Road. I found this amusing, and in fact probably liked the painting more because of that.
There were various other very good ones too. I liked a very impressive depiction of someone as Coriolanus in a dramatic black cloak, and there was a piece called "The betrothed" which the crd on the wall said lacked the erotic charge of a certain other painting (Oh, I don't know . . .), and a series of paintings (including one colossal one) of the defence of Gibraltar in the late eighteenth century. There was a statue of Thaggie, too, on loan from Parliament. I had a good look, but I'm not sure I could make out any visible damage to the neck. Karen, I'm sure, would have liked a preraphealite number (I certainly did) which its painter said was the greenest painting in the world. La Ghirlandata, by Rosetti, apparently. All well worthwhile and recommended.
After that I decided to walk round behind Liverpool Street Station and them go over to the east end, which was an interesting walk. the point of it all was to go to Cable Street, of course. As with all good pilgimages, there were trials and tribulations (which sounds a lot beter and more dramatic than rain and hail and narrowly avoiding etting some of the hail down the back of yur neck, even though that's what it amounted to). Unsurprisingly it's quite an ordinary road. I didn't have tme to go and look for the mural. Another time, perhaps.
I had a dinner appointment with the lovely Adrienne at five, so I headed up to Euston and met her from work. We went to a pub nearby for a quick drink (during which the skies opened and depositied bucketloads of hail onto the world outside) and then next door for more Indian food. I can't remember what this one's called, but I'm sure I could find it again - a vegetarian place that we would probably all have ended up before the Foetus and Coil concert if we hadn't been running late. Very good. It was, again, very good to do some catching up. I must be quite a good friend of hers by now, because she talked about her boyfriend, which she never ever does. She seems to be doing very well, which is good.
I said goodbye to her in Euston station and caught the train up to Kentish Town for Dead Can Dance, which can also wait for another post. There were also several meeting at this concert, some of them quite unexpected. I was particularly surprised to see Tamsin and Frederick go past, and I got to spend some time talking to them. It was a very good gig musically as well. I really enjoyed myself, and managed not to get as fleeced as I had been on Tuesday.
I walked back the same way as before.
On Friday morning I packed and then got rained on while going to pick up the car. I took a swing past the Gnome Camp to look at the new buildings, which seem to be about done, and then failed to find anything to picck up from Nicolai's (very wise given the rain, i suspect) and then headed back up the A1 . Another pleasant drive, with both sunshine and snow (sometimes simultaneously).