On the final full day of this trip to London, it was also the 29th anniversary of Merlin’s passing. I had planned on visiting Spencer House, the Monday evening prior; however, the event which was a ticketed lecture had been cancelled – this was my only chance at getting to Spencer House.
Climbing from the Underground at Green Park, the park was relatively empty and there was a crisp bite to the early morning air as I walked along the periphery of the park’s western edge. I opted to take that route and be close to the park’s trees than use the suggested route – St. James Street and St. James Place. The only persons in the park were intermittent joggers, looking fit; strange in November it was to see persons running in shorts.
Walking along, I passed a narrow break in the shrubbery; the narrow path that ran beneath on the houses stated that it was a private road and to keep out. A few more steps revealed the signage; yes, indeed, this was the place that I was looking for. Turning back, I made for the private narrow pathway and awaited as a tanned, moneyed man approached with a wonderful, happy dog before him. The fat little thing tried its best to act on his vibes and grumbled; staying my ground, I waited for him to get closer, said hello and asked if this was the way to Spencer House.
“Is this the way to Spencer House?”
“It is a private path…” he replied from behind thicker, darker and more-expensive-than-mine sunglasses, to which I brushed past his American accent by elegantly rebutting, “Thanks, I’ll find my way…”
Entrance to Spencer House: looking west to Green Park & East.
On entering Spencer House, I noticed that the splayed and slightly bloated feeling that began on approaching the stately home continued. Inside were two men; both were rather pleasant. We began speaking; for the next half an hour, we warmly visited. Seemingly, there was a group tour booked and they thought that I had simply arrived especially early.
As members for the guided tour arrived, I slipped into the ante room and enjoyed the still-life. Remarkably, there was a real ease for being in his place, which seemed more than passingly familiar. Finally, when enough of us were arrived for the tour, a silver-haired lady with clear, focussed eyes entered the foyer, walked up to me and smiling, we warmly greeted. A group of no more than twenty-five persons, the informal gathering was cosy and engaging.
As the tour began in earnest, it dawned on me that this house was remarkably familiar. There were no doubts in my mind that I had never previously visited it; however, even the tour guide approached me and asked when I had last been to the house. She was convinced that I had been there before and scoffed at my response that I had never before visited the stately home. She had done so because I seemed with uncanny accuracy to know which door to next use to progress on the tour. That aside, the energy between us flowed with the greatest ease.
As she spoke, the guide mentioned that Jerry Hall and Rupert Murdoch, who lived in the same street as Spencer House had actually had their wedding reception in the Georgian masterpiece. As she spoke of the ladder, I suddenly experienced a vision and it was of seeing the room as it looked during Georgian times; however, as in dreams everything was back-to-front from the current life experience. Indeed, I had definitely been in this room in the past; moreover, I had a rather memorable dream, which was set in this house. Then as I intently looked to one corner of the room, the rather knowledgeable tour guide announced that in that very corner, Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson loved sitting in that spot as he was a frequent and favoured guest to the house as the 2nd Earl Spencer had been First Lord of the Admiralty.
In this marvellous salon is a painting of the Death of General Wolfe… it is even more grand and emotive than the painting of General Wolfe’s death on the Plains of Abraham at the Royal Ontario Museum.
During that time, as a countertenor with Merlin (then female) my accompanist on harpsichord that I would have encountered Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson. I have dreamt of this man many times and some were set in the very house where, though it had not been planned, on the 29th anniversary of Merlin’s passing, I was taking a tour.
Just before we left the library, the tour guide then announced as she drew our attention outside the window from the library, there on the grounds of Green Park were cattle and other livestock kept. Indeed, in one such past-life dream, which was set at Spencer House, there was the intense smell of livestock. For this reason, I had assumed on awaking that this stately home on the edge of vast acreage was situated in the English countryside rather than in London.
Definitely, this room – the great room – was familiar; however, somehow, it did not seem as large as it ought to have been.
The view from the great room out to the beauty of Green Park. Suddenly, it dawned on me as I looked out the window that is why on Armistice Day after I left the splendid exhibition: Russia, Royalty & the Romanovs at Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace and cut through Green Park en route to Green Park Station, I felt so joyous.
That is why too, for moving past Spencer House earlier on November 11, 2018 and in essence, becoming harmonised with the locale of a past life that I would have such lucid flying dream activity on returning to the hotel that late afternoon and napping.
Without doubt one specific dream was centred in this room and there, a play was being staged in the past life dream. In between acts, one retired to this room from the great room and visited whilst the performers took almost forever at costume changes.
This was the setting of great music and laughter; indeed, I may well have performed for the Georgian glitterati on this balcony/stage-like staircase.
Lady Spencer’s room. lovely.
The Music Room where 2.5 centuries earlier, Merlin and I were in creative full bloom. I had a really powerful response when in this room. I was left teary eyed and on looking in the mirror, I actually saw the outline of my aura; it was silvery as it picked up the stunning sunlight streaming through the windows on either side. Somewhere in spirit, Merlin was with me and there was further validation that this place, this day… indeed, nothing is coincidental.
This room was pure sensory overload. I felt gay and as though on the cusp of flying. This visit was more adventure than even I could have imagined. When the tour was concluded, I warmly parted with the staff and assured them that I would be back. Then out into all this balmy, glorious sunshine, I headed into St. James Street and made my way to Piccadilly Street.
Feeling way too glorious, I decided against using the Underground and instead, headed east along Piccadilly and slipped into the Burlington Arcade’s splendour, browsed then went coffee table book-shopping at the Royal Academy. Though I hardly had room to pack the six books. Well in excess of 300£, the handle-barred and zoot suit-wearing poseur – eccentricity is never affected, asked way too condescendingly what did I mean by VAT “dear” and why would I get money back. You blasted, silly little twit; as I do not gladly suffer fools, I shot back, “Look do us both a favour and go restock these… and try finding a brain while you are at it…” the latter stated whilst walking away from the counter; you’ll get no commission from me. Who are these people, forever trying so damn hard?
With that, it was across the street into Fortnum & Mason to buy more teas and rose petal marmalade and jelly. From there, further easterly I bopped and grooved in the glorious sunlight and circumambulated Piccadilly Circus and bailed into Coventry Street and into the crowded intensity of Leicester Square.
From there, I snuck from the rear of the National Gallery and inside.
The delightful guide at Spencer House had insisted that I return to the National Gallery before leaving London and catch the Mantegna and Bellini exhibition. She could not have spoken more highly of it. I did tell her that I had reservations about seeing Italian art as it was much too ecclesiastic for my liking. However, since she had been such a gracious host, I decided to just this once to go with an open mind and just explore.
You cannot believe how fast, I got out of there. As I said to the West African museum worker, who asked why I had left the show so quickly, “You cannot imagine how deeply disturbing I find a culture that goes to such great length to never address in their art their savagely ‘civilising’ influence in the world. It is as though it never happened or they played positively no role whatsoever in the brutal murder, enslavement, extinction of peoples and cultures. His response was, to the victor go the spoils and the shaping of history in his image; he added that he was very very proud that I am aware, unlike so many of us. With that, we bumped fists and it was back out into the bright sunlight of this glorious day.
Apart from the usual suspects, Yodas seemingly levitating – now there’s a gig! – I made it past a rather engaging African artist who had the soul of a sage if ever anyone ever did. Being drawn to its beauty, I drew closer to get a really good shot of St. Martin-in-the-Fields and it was then I made the most glorious of discoveries.
Well, there could be no better way to restore the spirit after the disquiet that I experienced for moving through the Mantegna & Bellini show. Great art should reflect life, not neatly reinvent and compartmentalise away all that which one would rather not address – likely, though, Bellini had no knowledge of Columbian expeditions to the New World.
Presentation at the Temple – Giovanni Bellini c 1460
Certainly, the prominent artists of the 16th century: Tintoretto, Botticelli, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian were supported by the Church of Rome, which by its patronage of these artists was intent on depicting itself in a glowing ecclesiastical light rather than the brutal realism which afforded it the prominence and wealth it then enjoyed… which endures even now.
So with that, richly inspired by both the guitarist and Spencer House and all that it represented, I slipped into the National Portrait Gallery, to drink once more Wim Heldens masterful Oil on Canvas of the collectors Harry and Carol Ann Djanogly – she passed earlier this year. Satiated of spirit, it was off to grab a bite and then a nap of glorious dream-filled sleep – one of which was a flying dream. God it felt goodly glorious to have returned in spirit to Spencer House.
After having overslept by a hair, it was a mad dash by Underground and taxi make it by mere minutes to Royal Albert Hall. One of my favourite concert halls, any show would do.
Ah nothing beats a good old nostalgic adventure.
Interior of Royal Albert Hall.
Intermission from the stalls at Royal Albert Hall.
You cannot beat a room full of love and wonderment. Truly spectacular. Of course, it goes without saying that Merlin was wild about Jim Henson, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. This was a glorious way to have capped off a great trip and to remember the life of an extraordinarily phenomenal human being, Merlin.
And like that, the following day, I was returned to Toronto, my art-filled home and this most glorious photograph of the most magical fellow who made life truly a happening, for seven glorious, love-filled and magical years.
As ever, sweet dreams and thanks for your ongoing support.
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