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.  

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.