So..., it was a week ago today (Sunday) we drove back from Lincoln. Had originally planned to fly back to France the next day, but Georgie suggested she take the Monday and Tuesday off work so we could spend a rare couple of days together. Seemed an excellent idea, despite the expense of extra kenneling.
Took things easy on the Monday. Just lazed around and nattered. Had a vague plan to take non-functioning Hoover and bedroom telly to the tip (Georgie and Don hate throwing stuff out so it's a job that never gets done) but laziness and dismal weather dictated otherwise. Also thought about re-arranging Georgie's room but decided it'd take at least a week. Eventually swung into action around mid-afternoon by leaping in the car and heading for one of the big electrical goods shops down the A3 to look at small tellys. Hit a huge A3 traffic jam near the Norbiton turning. Turned off and headed to Raynes Park. Traffic was jammed solid. Spent about an hour travelling a solitary mile. Turned right at Raynes Park to New Malden, hit the A3 again and headed back to Putney. Clear road going into town but still jammed going out. Living in the back of beyond for five years I'd forgotten just how bad UK traffic can get. Especially in rush hour. There must be roadworks or something. Can't possibly be this bad every day. Or can it?
Stopped off at the Asda supermarket at the bottom of Putney Hill. Used to be the site of a KLG spark plug factory in the good old days. Ambled around there for about an hour, chucking stuff in a trolley. Great fun. Georgie said it was way cheaper than the Putney Sainsbury's and Waitrose (e.g. Asda digestive bics only 35p). Trouble is, being a non-driver, she can only get there when someone else drives. And, of course, being little, there's a limit to the amount of stuff she can carry. Needless to say, we had a splendid nosh-up in front of the telly that night. Er, can't remember what it was but I do remember pudding was ginger sponge with custard. Yum.
Having lazed around for most of Monday we decided to have a proper day out on Tuesday. The world was our lobster. Trouble was, rubbish weather again. Amazing how meteorological inclemency dampens enthusiasm for doing anything. Well, it does with me anyway. Despite leanings towards inertia, we ambled off into the drizzling grey and headed for Putney station. Bought a train ticket for tomorrow's trip to Southampton airport (26 bleedin' quid!) and a couple of travelcards. Jumped on a train to Waterloo, hopped off at Vauxhall, caught a tube to Green Park, legged it up to the Royal Academy and joined the queue for the van Gogh letters exhibition.
Queued for an hour. Well worth it. Place was packed. Whizzed through most of his early stuff but really got stuck into his 1887-8 masterpieces. I love 'em. An absolute joy to get right up close and inspect every little brushstroke, knowing each one had been put there by his very own hand. And the colours! Brilliant! But how did he get to these places? I guess he must have walked. With all his kit. In the blazing sun. Then walked back again. Had a bit of a kip then set off again the next day. Seventy paintings in just seventy days, towards the end. Incredible. And how come none of them are smudged? From bitter experience I know it's virtually impossible to carry a bagful of kit, an easel and a wet painting without smudging the damned thing. And many's the time one of my paintings has fallen from the easel ending up face down in dry grass. And what if he was back here now? Right now. Looking at all these people ogling his work, regarding him as a genius? And what if someone were to tell him his 'Irises' just sold for 50-odd million smackeroonies? He'd probably have a fit. Rightfully miffed at the injustice of living as a pauper. Leaving someone else to profit from his sweat and torment.
Beautiful stuff. Proper art. And most of it done in just one or two short years. Then he goes and fires a bullet in his chest when out painting in a field.
How do you follow a van Gogh exhibition? The answer is, you can't. The logical thing is to head for home clutching a newly-purchased van Gogh book (I have an epic tome already but I fancied another). Intended to drop off into the HMV record store (or whatever such places are called nowadays) at Piccadilly Circus to buy the latest Camera Obscura cd. But the store's no longer there. Headed for the tube at Leicester Square. Funnily enough, we passed the newly located HMV shop on the way. Dropped in. Found the cd. Fifteen bloody quid! No way. I'll get it for a fiver or so off eBay. Then passed one of the big cinemas in Leicester Square. Noticed 'Avatar' was showing. And just about to start. Decided to watch it. First time we've been to the pictures in decades. Sat down with a huge bucket of popcorn wearing 3-D specs. Spent the next couple of hours totally gobsmacked by the wonder of the modern cinema. Absolutely terrific stuff. Mind boggling. Not much of a story and a bit like looking at a 'Yes' album cover in places but who cares. If you get a chance, go for it.
Next stop Waterloo, then Putney. Feet up, watch telly, early night then up at sparrow's fart and head for Southampton airport and France. All seems a long time ago now, but it's less than a week. Wonder what van Gogh would have made of 'Avatar'? Now there's a thought. Bizarre. Funny stuff, life.
Memories of Baileys, and an all DIY lunch.
3 weeks ago