Well okay not really to visit the Queen but I will be going to London for a few days next week. Unlike the fabled Dick Whittington I have not plans to stay on and become Lord Mayor because frankly I couldn't afford it!
Now I'm old enough to remember when going to England was a bargain - things were affordable and it wasn't necessary to take out a bank loan to have a weekend of theatre, pubs and exhibitions. In fact with my airline passes and hotel deals it was something I did on a regular basis in those halcyon days in the 70s . I recall one wild five day shopping expedition just before Christmas back in 1978 when the pound was at its lowest - the only time in my life I was able to afford a Bond Street suit. There were so many day trippers in from the Continent that they had to use traffic police for the pedestrians on Oxford Street.
In those days the West End was cheap: a good ticket to see Alec Guinness, Laurence Olivier, Maggie Smith, Danny LeRue, Eileen Atikins, Dorthy Tutin, Derek Jacobi et al would maybe cost L2.00-8.00. I recall seeing Olivier in Merchant of Venice one evening and Maggie Smith in an Ingmar Bergman directed Hedda Gabbler the next and it didn't break the bank. Covent Garden wasn't cheap but you could still get standing room for Lynn Seymour and Mikhail Baryshnikov as Romeo and Juliet for L2.00. I was thinking of trying to get to the Royal Opera's new production of Prokoviev's the The Gambler but even seats up in the gods are running around L25.00 with partial view boxes at L100.00. I am sorely tempted to try for Jerusalem with Mark Rylance in a performance that has garnered universal praise but even that is running a rather steep L42.00 for a stalls seat.
Fellow blogger (given his incredible knowledge and writing skills I am almost embarrassed to call him that) David from I'll Think of Something Later has suggested a BBC Symphony Concert for Friday night which would introduce me to two things: the symphonic music of Martinu and David's skills as a lecturer. I am in awe of his writing and relish the chance to hear him speak and learn more about a composer I am not familiar with. He's also suggested a visit to the new Renaissance galleries at the Victoria and Albert and I think I've mentioned before that I am partial to art of that period. Thank you David.
Another highlight of the trip will be a chance to have lunch at the St James Restaurant at Fortnum and Mason with my friend Gary. He's flying over from Toronto on one of his regular missions to send books to the library at St. Helena Island so we're taking the opportunity to see each other for the first time in over two years.
So despite the cost - sidebar: someone explain to me why a small hotel in the mountains of Greece can offer free and fast wifi when a London hotel is charging L24.00 a day - it is shaping up to be a fun few days and damn it I would only waste the money on things like food.
14 febbraio - Santi Cirillo e Metodio