I'm back on here and it feels like the old days, back in 2004 when I started the blog, and no-one knew about it, so I had the freedom to write what I liked, in a free-flow spewing of words on the page, with no editing and no regrets. I seem to have that freedom now as no-one is aware of the blog anymore. For that I am grateful. I can slowly come back to writing without fear of mockery or derision (ha ha, people are too kind for that).
We caught the last day of the Lucian Freud exhibit at the National Gallery and I'm glad for it. I texted my friend the artist and said, Freud is good at children, dogs and flesh. The hands of Baron Thyssen-Bornemisza are very good, long, bony patrician fingers spread across his knees, and the startling beauty of Lady Caroline Blackwood, in bed in a hotel room in New York. But mostly I loved the puddles of dogs either central to or in the corner of the pictures. The English are very polite in museums. They stand back and take their turns. I love how American I have become, curious and somewhat slightly pushy. I move forward as close to the painting as I can, and read every sign, and of course apologize profusely as I do it.
Awfully cold this morning. I woke up with the intention of not looking at anything before writing, but found Hanef Kureishi's substack, which comes into my inbox every day. I love him. The world is better for his words, however tragic the circumstances are. "The HK substack is v. good" Vivien texted me yesterday. "Yes" I replied. But God it's cold; my whole body is under the covers but my face and hands are cold as I write, listening to the birds. Must remember to take fat balls out to them this morning: memo to self.
I'd forgotten that it was Chinese Lunar new year and dragged C to Dumplings Legend in Gerrard Street for xiao long bao and the extraordinary funghi salad with chili oil, garlic and cilantro. We followed the parade of children in red, holding paper dragons, mothers with strollers, babies in noise-cancelling headphones and beanies which covered their eyes, tourists of all shapes and sizes. Streets were closed all around Chinatown and the the whole world seemed to be celebrating with those little firecrackers - mostly small boys but a couple of older men who should have known better, throwing them down behind me to make me jump. In our continuing run of good fortune, we joined a queue that went well past the next restaurant and resigned ourselves to the fact that we'd be waiting for an hour. I watched a two year old play with cigarette butts in a planter and step from one glass brick to another, while his mother spoke to her friend. "You know" I said to Charlie in a effort to keep him in cheerful spirits, "there's only two of us, so our wait could be less." No more than a minute later a jolly man appeared holding his hand in a Churchillian V sign, inquisitive look on his face, "Two?" he said "Any parties of two?" and with that we were whisked to the top of the line, and inside the restaurant, festooned with red and gold decorations and paper chains and rather smug looking cats, to a table for two at the back of the restaurant. Amazed at our good fortune, we praised the great rabbit in the sky, and ordered way too much food (dumplings, chinese broccoli, smashed cucumbers, funghi salad and duck...a feast).
I'm not used to London at the weekends; it feels softer somehow.
This piece by Jacobus Clemens non Papa was the first thing we heard at evensong at Westminster Abbey. It sounds lovely here, but inside the Abbey with the voices of the Westminster choir boys (one of them can have been no older than seven) it was nothing less than heavenly. Increasingly in life one finds oneself without structured silence and sacred places seem to provide moments, even minutes of silence and quiet contemplation. I was looking at the window in front of me - Christ in brilliant red and blue in the middle and saints radiating out - and then closed my eyes and thought about teachers at school who closed their eyes to listen to music and how I was concerned that they were sad. Apparently just blissed out.