Strangely, though the major part of Armistice Day celebrations were long concluded, there were still more persons moving westward towards the Cenotaph than easterly towards Trafalgar Square. My companion, a spectacled, freckled guy in his early 30s, was keen on having me come back to his flat in South Bank – We were headed towards Charing Cross Station to take the Bakerloo Line towards his place.
Stalling for time, as I really was not feeling him, I firmly suggested that we go tour Banqueting House as I had never been, which was the truth. Of course, it did not help that the only thing at Banqueting House was the great ceiling art and the throne; the rest of it was just as empty as clearly, James, my “Mate” was dense. Long years ago, a channeller of dubious skills stated rather imperiously that I would meet someone named James, who would prove rather loyal and a long-term affair.
Somehow, this nebulous bit of arcana seemed to be the only sane reason why I was suffering this oaf overlong. His constant bitching about “Nutmeg,” as he referred to the Duchess of Sussex, was not winning him any favours in my books. I had hoped to have found much more archival fare associated with the spot where HM King Charles I was executed. Alas, there was nothing save a throne and an impressive ceiling.
With the toilets at Banqueting House fully occupied and alarmingly foul-smelling, back outside we dashed in hopes of finding a toilet. A pub, whose name I did not even catch a few door towards Trafalgar Square, proved the right spot. He ordered a couple of lagers – I never drink beer, and off I went to the toilet to relieve myself. I waited overlong, waiting for him to possibly come in then use the stalls so that I could make a mad dash for it. No such luck. However, on rejoining him, he lustily talked about what he wanted me to do to him. Never one to miss an opportunity, I suggested he go unclog his plumbing so that I could give it to him good, long and hard when we got back his place.
Naively quick to take the bait, out I dashed into the larger-than-usual crowds when he eagerly bolted to the toilet; once outside, I then caught the tail end of the latest regiment to go moving from the roundabout as they made their way from the Strand and onto Whitehall. With that, I swiftly made it across Pall Mall, crossed Canada House and made my way to the new entrances to the National Gallery – this James clearly was not the one.
Taking the time to avail myself of the museum’s free wi-fi, I sipped on a boost of Pret A Manger’s little magic, yellow potion, Hot Shot. I then decided against the Bellini show – Italian art is way too religious for my liking and it strangely enough has never once addressed the fact that the Church of Rome has, in its role as civiliser, proven the most disruptive terror group this planet has thus far known. For me, there is something alarmingly dangerous about a culture, which would completely and utterly eclipse this rather crucial aspect that has decided their place in the world – but enough about that for now.
Having dodged James, I decided to do the Courtauld exhibition as it would beat having to attend the museum on this trip. Whilst standing in one of two long queues, along came Ms. Thang, who simply looked at us and grandly walked up to the next sales rep as though she had exited St. George’s Chapel on Ginger’s arm on the gloriously sunny early afternoon of May 19, 2018.
As I was next in line, I just as imperiously declared to her and the rep, “Take you, the weave and that blasted fake channel handbag to the back of the line; there are not two lines of invisible persons waiting to buy tickets.” Before she could turn nasty with me, the lovely Dravidian lady informed her that I was next in line and, more importantly, she intended to serve me next. Fake boobs that looked like flotation devices and feet that were too big to fit any glass slippers and, of course, there was a bulky turtleneck to hide the Adam’s apple.
Though “she” was prepared to do drama, I came to do me and look at art and that I did. I was really wowed by some of these works, which I previously had not seen.
Naturally, this Degas masterpiece only warmed my soul. Straight away, I was left humming the music from the grand pas de deux in Act II of La Bayadère, which I could not wait to see at week’s end.
Shades of Canada’s Group of Seven, to be sure. I like the fact that the artist did not include the entire tree in the portrait.
Ah yes, and who doesn’t love the sublime soulfulness of a Gauguin tableau.
Trees, trees and even more trees. What’s not to love!
After having been greatly inspired by the Courtauld Impressionist show – well worth the price – I bailed outside; there were too many parents using the free admission to the museum as a place to come in out of the elements and babysit their way too young children. Once outside, I hailed a cab, though, not the above – wrong day and time of day. This cab proved one of the most memorable journeys. As The Mall was closed, we took the roundabout from in front of Trafalgar Square and headed along Pall Mall. I wanted just then to get to The Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace but did not want to use the underground; it was way too glorious a day out.
Finally, I laid down the law to the driver, who was a burly soul and looked like the quintessential slave soul. Soon enough, we got into a conversation when we began chatting about Canada, which I shared that I would give anything to flee in hopes of living in London. Soon, the topic turned to sex and whatever one would have to do to get by. Ha! Said he, he would give up this gig of 22 years and counting by marrying a fat, ugly rich broad to which, without so much as missing beat, I chimed in, “Don’t stop there, if you can find rich, fat, ugly and toothless, now you’ve got it made. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra from The Best Is Yet To Come, you ain’t been blown until you’ve had a gum job!” Never in long ages had I heard a grown man laugh so hard and for so long – a fellow cab driver going in the opposite direction even honked at him and asked what was so funny.
After having sat in traffic for far too long, though the metre read 12£, he asked for a 10£ note and thank me, saying he ought to have paid me for the company and humour. With that, I dashed past St. James Palace en route for The Mall which, of course, was closed. Finally, I made it up to the Queen’s Gallery and took in the Russia: Royalty & the Romanovs exhibition, which did offer some truly inspired gems from the Royal Collection.
Well, of course, he ruled something.
I was reminded in this portrait of Tsar Nicholas I of the 1970s when the goods were readily on display; however, along came AIDS and all that display and ogling readily evaporated. Instead, men were morphed into true peacocks with long blow-dry locks, which really did become tiresome after a season or two. Now, of course, it is the great and truly civilised age of the Internet, which lest you forget, is saturated with more than 80% pornography.
The Vladimir Tiara which is not dissimilar to the Cambridge Lover’s Knot Tiara, which always looked truly handsome when worn by the ravishing, Diana, Princess of Wales.
Set in the green drawing room at Windsor Castle, where on May 19, 2018, Alexi Lubomirski took the official photographs of the wedding of TRH Duke & Duchess of Sussex, you cannot possibly begin to imagine the overwhelming scope and grandeur of this tableau. Truly, one is left in awe of the fact that HM Queen Victoria was a tiny acorn who matured into a mighty oak who, through her womb, extended her empire far and wide across the continent. This was a ravishing exhibition and one of the most stunning paintings that I have ever seen from the Royal Collection.
After all that inspiring art, I needed to ground anew; thus, I opted to take a brisk walk, cutting through Green Park where the light fast shifted and danced below the horizon… never to be experienced again. With that, I hopped onto the Piccadilly Line at Green Park Station and made my way back to Russell Square Station; there, I resorted to my hotel room and took a lucidly awakened, dream-sodden nap before getting on with the final celebrations of this poignant Armistice Day.
Before making it to Barbican Station on the Circle Line, I had had the most awakened flying dream, which had me spirited across the spiral arms of Time to a past life in London.
To reflect, celebrate and give thanks, how could I not indulge in an evening of music and song with the London Symphony Orchestra.
Nice, plush comfortable seats with a troika of gay Jewish dancer/actors seated ahead of me. The evening was beautiful, the singing stellar.
As there was an empty seat on either side of me, I offered to move to the left and afforded the lovely young couple from Paris to sit together – she had been sat a row ahead and away from her spectacled, fey lover – he had more than a passing resemblance to Merlin. Leaning in, I whispered to him, “The universe always conspires to accommodate lovers…” he blushed, they both blushed sweetly and were pleasant company that added a certain magic to the evening. Here’s to lovers… indeed.
En route back to the hotel… a little late night smoothie snack was in order.
As ever, sweet dreams, don’t forget to push off and start flying and as always, thanks for your ongoing support.
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