The days are so short now that it sometimes that it is dark or twilight most of the time. So this post will show no daylight....
Last week was a quiet one because on my way to a committee meeting I managed to REALLY twist the bad foot. I couldn't put it to the ground and T. had to come and rescue me from the tube station. It recovered reasonably fast but then I stubbed the toe of the other foot. No, not on purpose. So I had to stay inside for one day and for the rest of the week I have been in some pain.
But these things happen and I managed to do a scheduled talk at the London Fortean Society on Thursday. I used to hate and fear public speaking - and I still have to read from a script - but I've kind of got used to it now and usually choose places with nice friendly audiences so I don't need to worry even if I do make a total mess of it. I like Forteans. They believe some crazy things but that is the point, really - and they're lots of fun to talk with and listen to. We had some interesting conversations after and in the pub.
The pub is The Bell in Middlesex St., near Aldgate, towards the old centre of London. It used to be a bit of an old boozer but it has now reinvented itself as a cosy traditional space where people meet their friends, play games and relax. It's definitely hipster, (not everyone's taste, but it is mine) its decor is interesting and somewhat weird (even creepy in parts), the staff are friendly, and the beer is good. One of London's more distinctive pubs.
Next day I visited V and admired her latest collection of objects gathered from the Thames foreshore. These can be from any period over the last 2000 years or more, thrown up by the river at certain spots at certain times of day. I loved this clay pipe bowl with a little dog at the bottom. (this is a detail) This one probably dates from Victorian days. I took pictures as V is a great one for throwing things away and is minded to throw her collection back into the Thames soon.
And talking of unexpected finds, on Thanksgiving Day, T. discovered a George III penny he had never seen before (nor had I) It was stuffed in a crack at the bottom of an old cupboard which was in our flat when we moved in. I don't know how old it is but I'd estimate the cupboard dates from about 1900. Perhaps its original owner had an out of date 1806 penny which they bored a hole through and hung round their neck for luck. Whatever. Anyway, by the time it was minted, George III had already played his part in giving Americans a chance to celebrate on 26 November, 209 years later!
And as yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent, it was time to decorate Christmas trees. We haven't put ours up yet, but K and F were quicker off the mark. This ornament was created by our friend Marjorie, from Chicago. She stitched a beautiful set of Alice in Wonderland character ornaments so that the whole family had one.
I'd like to say the twins helped to decorate the tree, but actually they took the ornaments off as fast as they possibly could, in order to examine them, run away and hide them or pull them apart. The tree has ended up with most of its decorations at the very top, out of reach of small hands.
Also managed to get down to SW London to see my colleague and friend Tim' in his opera group's revival of the once-very-popular French opera "Mignon" by Ambroise Thomas. It's almost forgotten now but it was hugely popular from about 1870 onwards until it fell well and truly out of fashion. The opera group, Sussex Opera, likes to revive forgotten gems. The company is amateur but uses professional principals, and they're really very good. What's more they love every minute of what they do. Mostly they perform in Sussex but this was their one London night of the year.
For some reason they decided to set the opera in the 1930s - perhaps in order to avoid having having all those crinolines around - but it is really a most charming piece and due for a revival. Tim sent me a link to a Youtube clip of the 12 year old Julie Andrews performing one of the arias. I thought I'd share it if only so you can see what a prodigy she was. (And, to be honest, to marvel at her extraordinary accent, one which has completely disappeared in England today. Even the Queen doesn't talk like that any more)!
And despite the short dark days, there are more beautiful sunsets to see.