Shoreditch, London – Well that time has come. I could either look at it with terminality, or continuity. So, rather than be a moody banker who isn’t too keen on charity (thus why there aren’t too many beggars around the Bank of England), I’ll call this week the third week of my trip. Tempus fugit certainly isn’t an understatement either, as I could swear I saw a copy of Time magazine levitate with the breeze borne by a passing bus on Tottenham Court Road last week. All mockery of linguistic punnery aside, this is a time of reflection and discernment, aka Sunday.
So, what did I do when my 7.30 alarm went off? Rather than get up and prepare for 9.00 Mass, I fell on my face, mostly because I gave my right ankle a good bother yesterday whilst walking to the tube station. Rather than go to Mass, I decided to postpone my ecclesiastical attendance for a few hours and make my appearance at the local laundromat. After a good hour and a good £8.00, I ran out of there, not out of fear, but chasing after the time that was fast slipping away. I had a 12.00 lunch appointment in Zone 5. It was 11.30.
Arriving at my local tube station, I found myself amazed by the great mass of people who either don’t have lives or just are rather spiritual, as there wasn’t a centimetre of room on the train heading towards King’s Cross. How a Sunday train could be so crowded beats me. Must have something to do with line closures elsewhere in London.
After a brief game of phone tag with a cousin, we agreed to meet at Baker Street and lunch in the area. A nice lunch it was. However that was just the beginning of the day for me.
I made my way back home after lunch, spending the free hour spreading out my still wet laundry that it could air dry, and watching an old episode of Have I Got News For You, Brian Blessed presenting. Then it was back out on my feet again.
The thing about a city like London is that there is always something going on. Whether its a Gay Pride Parade, a police stakeout in the Leicester Square tube station at rush hour, Boris Johnson, or the odd concert/recital, you’re bound to find something to do every hour of the day if you’d like. So, at 17.00, a friend and I left the flat for arguably the greatest destination imaginable for an organ recital: Westminster Abbey.
We got there at 17.36, just in time to get inside and find seats on the Mary aisle of the Abbey for the recital. The music was amazing, as is expected of first: the organ, and second, the performer Ian le Grice, formerly Assistant Organist for Temple Church, London. The performance of Handel, Bach, Franck, and Reubke was fantastic. Westminster Abbey is a perfect place for an organ recital. The first record of an organ in the Abbey dates from 1304 “referring to ‘a pair of organs'” (Courtesy of Westminster Abbey). The current Harrison and Harrison organ dates from the Coronation of King George VI in 1937. It is best described by one word: magnificent.
After the recital, we made our way down Whitehall towards a little Italian restaurant that I had found a few weeks prior during a similar walk towards Charing Cross. The restaurant in question, SPQR by name, was quite good, and quite Italian. I had the calamari dinner and a glass of tap water (I’m not paying for a bottle of water). Oddly enough, despite my going to many an Italian restaurant in the States, I can’t say I’ve ever been to one where the waiters, all Italian immigrants, spoke very little English. Still, that fact, along with the 2 foot tall menus that could be mistaken for a Tolstoy novel, made for a charming experience.
So, with the third week upon me, time is as wobbly as a certain friend on a good day, (cheers to you by the way if you read this.) Still, there’s still one week to see as much as I can, and learn as much as possible. Preparing for the future. That’s the word for my guidance: preparation.
O, and one last thing. Good on you, British Government on flying the Gay flags on the ministries. Washington, your move.