When Things Don’t Go to Plan.

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Just another hotel that looks onto Bloomsbury’s Russell Square

Monday morning, November 12, 2018 rolled around with me being a bit on the antsy side.  Just a couple of days before leaving on the trip, I received an email notice that a talk and drinks scheduled for that evening at Spencer House had been cancelled.  That being the case, I emailed, called and prevailed on each day Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club in Soho to try and get my reserved seat for the Tuesday evening show, moved up to Monday evening instead. 

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Finally, the night before, I got a human rather than no voicemail or no email replies from Ronnie Scott’s.  Incredibly, the rep did not know the number for box office and let me know that the Monday show was booked and I could not change my itinerary.  Trying to reason with her proved a nonstarter.  If I could be missing for my reservation on Tuesday, so too could someone booked on Monday be missing which means that I could at the very least stand in the back of the club and sip on a drip.  Nothing doing.  Monday came and passed and not box office nor anyone ever once answered the phone.  

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One of my favourite journeys when in London is to get to Piccadilly Circus and head towards Burlington House.  There, one is always going to be wowed by great art – this trip certainly delivered,  

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This, without doubt, is the show that I came to London highly anticipating.  What I had not anticipated was the sheer scope of the exhibition.   Certainly, it was a welcome change after paying to move through the Klimt / Schiele exhibition.  One thing that struck me, which always occurs regardless which museum or which continent, whenever there is an exhibition of non-white art alongside another of white art, the latter is patronised by a ratio of three to one,  

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Franz Hauer 1914  Egon Schiele

To be sure, the space for the Klimt / Schiele was much smaller than the ten salons for the Oceania exhibition – the same salons in fact which were used for last winter’s, Charles I: King and Collector.  Indeed, there is a certain appeal about being able to view art this up close and intimately.  Nonetheless, the crowd here was predominantly older – the diapered set and they of course can be expected to have little relish for adventuring beyond that which is deemed art or superior.  

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Nude Self-Portrait 1916 Egon Schiele. 

Naturally, not having read up on the exhibition prior to arriving in London, I had assumed that it would be paintings of both artists in the exhibition.  As it turned out, my weak vision could not fully appreciate these drawings and the cramped quarters was no good for my usual wariness of crowds.  

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Female Bust,1916 Gustav Klimt.  

Thoroughly underwhelmed more than not, I made my way in search of the Oceania exhibition.  Imagine having made that treacherous trek all the way up those potentially slippery metallic stairs, only to have been left none-too-inspired.  Oh well, too many old fossils in too tight a space pour moi-meme.  

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Straight away, I was soothed, uplifted and engrossed by the fecund richness of the blue-interiored salons.  Where months prior were hung van Dycks, Rubens and a most memorable Tintoretto, now into these large magical ten salons, I slipped lucidly awakened with wonder.  

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Here, in this marvellous exhibition, the worlds of dreams and spirit were fully realised.  I was in awe, inspired and fully engaged for moving through, as though in a lucid dream, salon after salon of this mammoth, breathtakingly beautiful exhibition.  

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Papuan soul canoe.

Steeped in animism and ancestor-worship, these beautiful cultures of the South Pacific (Oceania) speak to me.  Naturally, much of this is due to strong resonance, owing to past-live memories.    

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What I found rather interesting about this exhibition, is how locals reacted to the art and artefacts on display.  They were actually deferential, which is worlds removed from the usual open ridicule and vile remarks made by persons when touring the Barbara and Murray Frum African Art Collection at Toronto’s AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).  Indeed, days later, I would be reminded of how archly racist Canadians currently are and with a smugness that defies reason.  

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This exhibition is handsomely curated and the show was staged with the greatest sensitivity and respect for the cultures represented.  Rather refreshing an approach.  

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Marvellous.  Powerful and so like the totemic masks of West African cultures.  

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I especially loved this sculpture and found it vibrationally rather powerful.  

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Sublime.  

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My attempts at capturing this marvellous piece proved frustrating as a German couple who were close by were slow to move along; my impatience is of course legendary.  

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Beautiful textiles featured in the exhibition,  

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Positively love this Papuan mask.  

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Star map for navigating the seas of Oceania’s cultures.  

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August.  Regal.  There is something deeply astral about the cultures of Oceania; these are cultures which are firmly grounded in the worlds of dreams and spirit… indeed.  

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Wow!  This is what I came hunting for; I was most definitely greatly inspired.  What past-life dreams are yet to be triggered by this lucidly awakened journey through Oceania and my own reincarnational past.  

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Hands down, this was my favourite piece in the exhibition; it seemed like some interdimensional craft for travelling between distant worlds and galaxies as is only now possible in dreams.  The lines are so amazingly elegant and masterfully executed.  Phenomenal.  

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What a wonderfully uplifting exhibition!  Bravo!  

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The view on exiting the Royal Academy’s Burlington House.  

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Just look at the view across Piccadilly from the Royal Academy…  Fortnum & Mason.  Well, off we go for some retail therapy; on crossing the street, I delightfully hummed the most memorable melody from La Bayadère.  

Oh look, way below that famous Fortnum & Mason blue beckons.  For now though, I made another feverish perusal of my email.  There is nothing from Ronnie Scott’s and the hotel has emailed to say that they have not received word from them nor have they called back.  

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A gourmand’s wet dream.  

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Art whilst shopping… truly civilised.  

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A trip to the basement and my favourite Jamaican clerk was not on duty.  I did though meet a lovely, lively West African who much reminded me of the spirited gardener in the dreams of July 9, 1993, which proved one of the most beautiful yet of this incarnation wherein I travelled and had the most lucid astral plane dream encounter with Merlin in the afterlife – it will appear in the sixth and final volume of my dream memoirs of Merlin and me, Merlin and Arvin: A Shamanic Dream Odyssey, which will prove human civilisation’s first dream memoirs when fully published.  20181112_124934

Thanks to the West African clerk and how beautifully she spoke of the Canada’s Weston family, who own Fortnum & Mason, I was sold.  To hell with dropping money at Ronnie Scott’s when they could not be bothered to accommodate me.  With that, I had a couple of signed copies of Tom Parker-Bowles’ recently published cookbook, Fortnum & Mason Christmas.  For good measure, it is always good to have wonderful fragrances.  

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On getting outside, whilst prowling Piccadilly in search of the Herrick Gallery in Mayfair where a Nevisian artist was having an exhibition, the skies opened up and delivered a monsoon deluge, which readily reminded that this truly was the age of climate change.  The Herrick Gallery was a beautiful affair; however, I had arrived a day early so there was nothing to see as large canvases were being unwrapped and hung.  Getting into Green Park Station, I ducked in to use the toilet and was reminded of 28 years earlier, when you didn’t then have to pay to use the facilities.  That day, in the heat that was London in July, an old, homeless black woman sat on one of the toilets in a stall, which like all the others had no door affording privacy.  She seemed utterly otherworldly and just as removed.  Certainly, she was impervious to the bacchanalia afoot; a tall East African with the most massive cock to that point seen, was actually charging various denominations based on what the throng of near-ululating size queens were prepared to do to that unrivalled wunder schmekel of his.  

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Onward, the journey continued.  The next stop was Westminster Station where my main focus was touring the exquisite architectural gem that is the Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey.  Built by King Henry VII as Lady Chapel and deemed as the ode to the Virgin Mother, I rather suspect though that the Lady in question is his mother, Margaret Beaufort.  Hers is the only effigy that is not marble but distinctive bronze. 

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(Though photography is not permitted, I managed rather skilfully to have captured a shot of Lady Margaret Beaufort’s bronze-effigied tomb whilst in the spectacular Lady Chapel at Westminster Abbey)

Of course, that soul is now incarnate and though the most reviled black woman on the planet at present, I have every conviction that Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex will just as nobly distinguish herself as when a key figure during the War of the Roses, mother of King Henry VII, grandmother of King Henry VIII after whose coronation she died days later, and great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth I.  She who founded Christ’s College and St. John’s College at Cambridge University and for whom Oxford University’s first college to admit women, Lady Margaret Hall is named.  Indeed, Meghan, HRH Duchess of Sussex has been a feminist for some time.  

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A lone shot of Westminster Abbey from the quire, looking to the altar before being approached by security and asked to cease doing so.  Before departing I took the time to pause at the three wreaths in the stalls of Lady Chapel, which is the spiritual home of the Order of Bath.  In recent months, three knights of the order had passed.  

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The view from the Cloisters from Westminster Abbey, to the courtyard fountain and the grandeur of Palace of Westminster’s Victoria Tower to the rear.  It was also a chance to wait out the downpours.  

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Excitedly the dash back from Westminster Abbey to Westminster Station on the Circle Line was one filled with giggles as I tried to avoid being dowsed by puddles as traffic sped past.  Next stop, Mansion House which eventually led to a break in the rains as I emerged from the Underground.  

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Look at that, the monsoon had eased up and there was even sunlight trammelling the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Always, it is good to mount the steps to this grand shrine.  

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As it is the season of Remembrance, it was time to pause and pay homage at the tomb of Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson whom both Merlin and I knew in our past lives in London when musicians at court during the reign of HM King George III and the Regency of HM King George IV.  

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The Earl Jellicoe. Admiral of the Fleet.  Love that there are actual poppies on his tomb.  

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Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington.

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One of the sights whilst ambling after yet another tour of St. Paul’s Cathedral.  

With that, it was back on the Underground and a return to Bloomsbury, where dinner and dream-filled sleep awaited.  

As ever, dream as though every moment is a dream memory of a past life (this one) for you in a future incarnation.  See it, experience it fully – without bias – appreciate it and be richly inspired by it.  Again, I can never say enough how deeply appreciative I am 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. 

Distracted by Wim Heldens

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.