February/March Update 2017

It has been the usual whirlwind. In February, at the Royal Academy, we saw Anthony Green’s “The Life and Death of Miss Dupont” and “Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932.” This last was disturbing as much as it was interesting. I enjoyed seeing the Kandinsky, Chagall and Kuzma Petrov-Vodkin in particular. There was also the Pagan Federation’s Imbolc ritual performed by Circle of the Four Winds at Conway Hall that celebrated Cailleach’s handing her crown over to Bride. At Tate Britain, with the David Hockney exhibition, I felt that in just two hours we had been to The Wolds, Paris, Japan, Los Angeles, Tony Richardson’s pool, the Grand Canyon and other places as well. At the Upstairs of the Castle ‘Spoken Word’ (apparently no longer called ‘Poetry Readings’) venue on Mythologies and gods and goddesses, we enjoyed both Math Jones and Jah Mir Early. Another enjoyment was David Rankine at Nova Stellar. It had been years since we last saw him. Theatre in February was a most enjoyable performance of Boys in the Band (its last night) along with an old time but fun audience. It also included an equally enjoyable performance of Shakespeare’s Two Gentleman from Verona at the Old Vic’s Redwood Theatre, for which Chloe had been responsible for the painting of the sets (part of her MA programme in Bristol). We went with Gin and Rix and had dinner with Chloe after at Birch. Cinema was Jackie and Gurinder Chadra’s Viceroy’s House at the Curzon Mayfair. What I learned from the Q&A at this last was that the partition of India was not a result of Hindu-Muslim rioting but was already the Churchill plan from several years earlier. Museums also included the Cinema Museum in Kennington, the Australian Impressionists at the National Gallery and the talk at the Royal Academy on “America After the Fall: Painting in the 1930s.” In the exhibition itself, I was drawn in particular to the Edward Hopper, Paul Cadmus and Grant Wood as well as Peter Blum’s Eternal City.  And dinner was with James and Eamonn at Kaspar’s Seafood Grill in the Savoy. Two people we met this month, on separate occasions, were Carlotta Cardana and Kathleen White. We also attended the Kensington & Chelsea Town Hall meeting on approving the re-opening of the Queen’s Head. For the rest it was a bunch of expensive and annoying medical tests.

The Focus

March’s events included lunch with Penny and Hamish at the Fish in a Tie, dinner in the Gherkin with Amy, dinner with Austin & Phillip at Balans Soho, dinner with Bernadette and Darrelyn in Bristol’s Pump House, lunch with Serena at the Rainbow’s End Café in Glastonbury, dinner with Liz at the Who’d Have Thought It Inn in Yelverton, and dinner with Rosemary and Kasia at Fish in a Tie.  One highlight was four days at Cae Mabon (https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=cae+mabon&*) in North Wales for the Neuro-Magica Retreat organized by David Luke, Julian Vayne and Nikki Wyrd. This was not always easy (for which we made up with most delightful stays in Bristol and Cornwall) but magical. The most magical of all were the group who had assembled for the event: all different but all of a like mind – people with whom one could relax and be oneself. The rest of the month included a Master Class on Critical Thinking given by Martin Cohen at the House of Lords – two weeks before the terrorist attack, the Druid equinox ceremony at Tower Hill, the Gruntlers’ Poetry Festival at the Yunus Emre Centre, a concert at the Wigmore Hall (consisting of Thomas Adès’ The Four Quarters, Lutoslawski’s Variations on a Theme of Pagani, Adès’ Concert Paraphrase on Powder on Her Face, Selections from Walton’s Façade, and Adès’ Piano Quintet), Andi Engel’s 1989 film Melancholia (with Jeroen Krabbé & Susannah York) and a 1931Ukrainian/Russian propaganda film glorifying socialism (Enthusiasm: Symphony of the Donbass, by Dziga Vertov), Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? at the Haymarket Theatre with Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo (which was terrific), and at the October Gallery a delightful presentation by Gabriel on “White Darkness: Possession in Haitian Vodou.” There is right now a private viewing at the Saatchi Gallery and then tomorrow it is the Nonsuch Singers and the Saint Matthew Passion.

For the rest, it has felt like the tightening of the final noose. When I woke from the anesthesia for the cystoscopy and biopsies at the London Clinic, I was informed about the attack and deaths on Westminster Bridge and at the Houses of Parliament.  Today I received the carcinogenic results. I’m right on the threshold of “concern.” Choices are next – with none of them to be easy ones to make. On top of this, I also now seem to have another hernia which makes both walking and especially bending over to pick something up from the floor painful. I have been saying for a while now in consideration of the mindless populism as I perceive it and the endless quagmire of waste and war that I am glad that I am as old as I am. It is Richard of course for whom I worry most. It is now a new stage in the adventure. I may be less communicative as I want to finish the novel and tend to all those affairs that need attending. But for the now, to be continued …

















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