Armistice Day 100.

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Cenotaph, Whitehall, Sunday, November 11, 2018.  

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Whilst tucking into the best stewed fruits ever, which I have now- two visits to said Bloomsbury hotel – discovered actually causes my paunch to disappear, a light drizzle dreamily danced outside the dining room windows, readily reminding me of those interminable days of rain in Vancouver.  Vancouver has at least a dozen different types of rains; always the most anticipated are those days in November when it lazily, interminably rains for five to seven days non-stop; best reading times ever.  

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Handsomely festooned, it was off with me and parapluie as the drizzle departed on emerging into the pleasant morning air, around 0845, from Embankment Station and readily got into queue, which eventually poured into Whitehall Place where the security checks were thorough.  

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As can be imagined, the security at this event was second to none. 

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After having cleared security, it is now on to Whitehall proper.  This, however, is not quite my desired spot.  

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Palace of Westminster is now visible… getting closer still.  

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Wow, look at that, getting closer still.  The three balconies where the senior royals will review the ceremony is within sight.  I will eventually edge my way westward along the wide, heavily peopled sidewalk to just to the east of the Cenotaph. 

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In the far left balcony was placed, Vice Admiral Sir Timothy Laurence, spouse of HRH Princess Anne, Princess Royal, next to Sophie, HRH Countess of Wessex.  

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On the central balcony, Camilla, HRH Duchess of Cornwall, HM Queen Elizabeth II, Catherine, HRH Duchess of Cambridge.  

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On the right balcony, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier’s wife, Elke Büdenbender and Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex.  

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Captured from the ITV YouTube coverage of the Armistice Day celebrations, the red line passes just below the right ear as my silver-haired head is tilted to left and sunglasses handle can be vaguely discerned.  Standing sixth deep with the Household Guards in their bearskins standing three deep, I never actually saw the senior royal males as they stood directly in front of where I stood, as they faced west towards the Cenotaph.  

 

 

Before the royals were placed, the honour guards filed into position with the Royal Navy taking their positions beneath the royal balconies.  At this point, it was a balmy 17°C in mid-November and rather reminiscent of Vancouver climes.  

 

 

With the arrival of the Household Guards after the Household Cavalry had marched past, a Welsh man in his late fifties, who came to honour his great uncle called out, Oh bloody ‘ell when the Household Guards replete with bearskins took their positions three deep in front of us.  

 

 

Moments after HM The Queen and the senior royals appeared on the balcony, the senior royals who would be laying wreath, took their places on Whitehall.  Though I never once sighted them, they included: HRH Prince Charles, Prince of Wales, HRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, HRH Prince Henry, Duke of Sussex, HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, HRH Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, HRH Princess Anne, Princess Royal, HRH Prince Edward, Duke of Kent, HRH Prince Michael of Kent.  

 

 

After the bells of Westminster Abbey tolled, the guns boomed and the stark stillness of two minutes of silence was broken by the Bugle salute.  

 

As the senior royals solemnly laid wreaths, the frenzied sniping of the paparazzi lenses were almost deafening to my rear.  

 

As wreath-laying royals were followed by dignitaries, starting with PM Theresa May and ending with the Commonwealth heads of states, Ludwig van Beethoven’s Funeral March No. 1 B Flat Minor majestically set the tone as there were many tears lost at this time as we who were gathered reflected… remembered.  

 

More of the honourable service persons depart long after the royals have taken their leave.  This endured for several hours after.  

 

This was a truly majestic ceremony and befitting those who had given their lives,  

 

At this point, more souls have departed and I am able to inch even further to the kerb and eventually chatted with Constable Snell; she was lovely.  

 

Indeed, patience pays off and alas, the Household Guards departed and there was even more to see… or what was left of things.  

 

There go more of the brave warriors.  This has been an immensely moving ceremony.  I had no idea that I would be so deeply stirred by it.  

 

As both my legs and bladder were doing a number of me, I decided to duck into a pub with one, James, who was pretty up front about what he was after; I figured it was time I began meeting people in the city.  So we stopped and took in this marvellous band before ducking into a pub along Whitehall after we had been to Banqueting House – more on that in next blog. 

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Meanwhile, as I convinced him to go lighten his load before we went back to his place and carried on like Rottweilers, having had more than enough of his open animus towards “Nutmeg” Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex, as he went to dump, I slipped out of the pub and into the thick throngs then headed towards Trafalgar Square – who has time to waste on dreck like that!  

As ever, sweet dreams and thanks for your ongoing support. 

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© 2013-2020 Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.  

Gosh that was fun!

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Thanks to World Ballet Day, there was positively nothing or no one that was going to dissuade me from hitting London town.  Armistice Day and La Bayadère, you say… ha!

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Naturally, I returned to London, in my ongoing research/quest for more connections to the past as it pertains to the six-volume dream memoirs.  Though I had hoped to publish volume three this year, 2018, ongoing research has meant its delay until Spring 2019.  

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After dropping luggage at the hotel in Russell Square, it was a quick dash on the Piccadilly Line to Leicester Square Station where the 10-day London Pass with Oyster card was collected.  On this gloriously mild Saturday morning, I took a quick snap of St. Martin-in-the-Fields across Charing Cross, before slipping into the National Portrait Gallery.  

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Before having found what I went looking for, I first took a detour through the Tudor Gallery where, alas, there were no portraits of Margaret Beaufort.  That done, I moved down to the open space where the exhibition: Black is the new Black was housed.  

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Stunning portraits, I love the blue-blackened soulfulness of the portraits; these are all eyes that are thoroughly ensouled and lived-in.  Next, it was off to the salon where what I went looking for was handsomely displayed.  

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Enraptured, I passed long forevers fully engrossed by National Portrait Gallery’s recent acquisition of Wim Heldens’ oil masterpiece – portrait of the art collector and benefactor couple, Harry and Carol Ann Djanogly.  The oil on canvas is handsomely hung in salon 38 and was painted in 2017 by Wim.  Wim, I met in NYC at Manhattan cabaret singer, Frans Bloem’s West Village townhouse when we went out back in the early 1990s.  I had been in town visiting with Frans from Vancouver; we met when I then lived in Toronto and finally, the relationship ran its course on my relocation to the west coast and not to be overlooked but sex with Frans was as meh as warm, runny vanilla ice cream.  Of course, by the time that I was visiting Frans and he was out of town, I met Wim; the latter was sick in bed and I looked in on him between going to the theatre and galleries in the city.  Apart from godawful sex, Frans was a little too obsessed with Diana Ross for my liking – it all seemed too sissy-queer-boy, clichéd and banal. 

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Besides, by the visit where I met Wim, who was the warmest of souls – Wim is an old-souled scholar and it shows in spades in his works – I had long discovered the raunchy funk of hot sex deep into the woods of Vancouver’s Stanley Park where the world’s largest city park (1000 acres) is ever ten degrees warmer than elsewhere in the city during the sodden wintry months as the half millennium-aged sitkas keep the place comfortably warm.  There was no need for the ennui of sex with Frans after tying raunchy fuckers to a sitka and whipping them; besides, positively nothing beats fucking in nature – truly, it is the most empowering, grounding experience.  

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On leaving the National Portrait Gallery, I ambled down Charing Cross, took the time to admire the bronze springbok that lords over the entrance to the Republic of South Africa’s embassy with the maple leaf-festooned Canadian Embassy to the west across Trafalgar Square.  

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Down into the bowels of Charing Cross station, I then skipped and hopped the Bakerloo Line to Lambeth North Station.  There on a gloriously temperate and sunny Saturday afternoon, I made my way to the Imperial War Museum and was rather moved by the beauty of the metallic poppies that tearfully bled from a bathysphere-styled window at the museum’s domed rotunda.  This glorious display was part of the centenary celebrations of Armistice Day 100 years earlier which marked the close of World War I.  

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Standing in the atrium of the museum, I was reminded how geography does determine the scale of architecture.  Relative to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D. C., there is no way that the relative limitless wide-open spaces of America would find military gear in such close cramped quarters as at the Imperial War Museum’s atrium. 

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I was there to take in the exhibition, Mimesis, which honoured, on the 100th anniversary of the close of WWI, the contributions of blacks from across the Commonwealth.  Turns out, it was not a photographic exhibition; rather, it was a most evocative of films.  

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From South Bank, it was back to Embankment Station and onto the Circle Line to Tower Hill Station.  There, emerging into the sparkling and relatively warm daylight, one was readily reminded of Vancouver temperatures at this time of year.  Into the perpetual queues one headed for a chance to gaze on the Crown Jewels at Tower of London.  

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Going in, the ravens were keeping a watchful eye… as is their wont and the tourists here were predominantly East Asian.  

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Seeing these metallic simians, I was reminded how good London’s fortune is not to be inundated by predatory monkeys… as is the case in both St. Kitts and Nevis.  

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After having viewed the Crown Jewels, this photo of Tower Bridge, suggested that the fast-moving clouds, though stormy-looking, would not break just yet.  

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About half an hour later, the vista to the west looked dramatically foreboding.  I tried to negotiate and decided that these clouds did not look all that fast-moving, besides they were considerably to the west.  

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Into one of the city’s ubiquitous and thoroughly indispensable Pret A Manger joints I slipped.  There, I dined on a hearty sandwich and had one of way too many raspberry smoothies.  

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Each day, wherever I travelled, there was always one in each pocket.  

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This little rocket was the must-have.  Always, there was one handily tucked away deep inside my black Dorothy Grant messenger bag as I darted about my favourite town, on my favourite West Indian isle – it really does vibrationally feel as though in the West Indies, besotting my insatiable soul with culture, art and more high-end inspiring fare.  

After having interminably waited out the rains, along came 1700 and time for the second to last day of the torch light ceremony at the Tower of London in honour of the centenary of WWI’s conclusion.  And so, of deference one waited out the rains, which rolled through in waves – waves they were which seemed increasingly more monsoon.  Finally, the show was begun and after having been soaked sans parapluie and too many souls – I do not like crowds, I opted to make this short clip as I could not see a damn torch on the ground and headed for the warmth of a hotel suite in Bloomsbury.  

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After being soaked to the gills to get into Tower Hill Station, no sooner than being on the platform and headed towards King’s Cross St. Pancras, along came the announcement that the station was now closed as there were too many souls on the platform to assure everyone’s safety.  Back out into the torrential downpour, we all grumbled, huddled and shivered; this downpour was seriously fierce.  

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After much aimlessly darting about the crowded and flooded streets of the city, two-plus hours later, finally a cab was dispatched and into a very cool hotel suite I arrived.  Somehow, in spite being soaked to the bones and frigidly cold, I managed not to have come down with the sniffles, a cough or runny nose. 

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Soon, wakefulness gave way to sleep and I was readily awakened into a plethora of dreams, which are always thrillingly, lucidly awakened in this favourite city of my well-travelled soul.  A day filled with adventure lay ahead; it was Armistice Day 2018 and I would manage to be captured on ITV film of the ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall.  

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As ever, thanks for your ongoing support and sweet dreams.  

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©2013-2020  Arvin da Brgha.  All Rights Reserved.