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Friday, 1 March 2013

Eat your heart out Hereford

Ice Age Art (above): The swimming reindeer.

The Guardian  gave our Emerson Quartet concert (Bartok qt 3, Janacek qt 2, Berg Lyric Suite) four stars out of five and I was pleased this eggheaded programme more or less filled Queen Elizabeth Hall, also drawing a high percentage of under-forties.

P and C, with whom we were staying, live in Lewisham in south-east London. Normally we take London's motorway ring-road, M25, from which it's a 20-minute drive. Instead we plunged into London's suburbs on the western side of the capital to pass by our old house in Kingston-upon-Thames. Since I know this quadrant I tried to override the satnav but finally (for complex reasons) I gave in. Needless to say it took ages and the satnav came into its own during the final three or four miles of hilariously zig-zagged narrow streets liberally endowed with sleeping policemen (Speed bumps in the USA).

C, who paints and sculpts, had chosen the British Museum Ice Age Art exhibition the following day. A salutary display. Carvings in mammoth ivory and reindeer antler, some dating back 40,000 years, evolved from realistic renderings of, say, a bison and (my favourite) a tiny, perfectly detailed sole, into impressionistic and very beautiful shapes evocative of the female form. The mental processes on which modern painting and sculpture are based were already there and active all those years ago.

At the Courtauld two-dozen paintings by the nineteen-year-old Picasso revealed him stumbling his way through imitation, low-grade Toulouse Lautrec and ending up with a masterpiece, Girl With Dove. All in one year.

Docklands Light Railway down to Greenwich for a couple of pints at London's greatest pub, The Trafalagar*. London has it all.

*Superior to the pub on Roupell Street in only one respect - it has a view.


  1. Ah! I am intrigued by the sole and find a yearning in my heart still to visit a great pub in London. Which ale did you choose this time?

  2. Bravo for the ice age reindeer. I've been following this exhibition in the Press but not alas seen it in the flesh as it were. Several illustrations have crept into my scrapbook. You must have been perilously close to The Retreat when you were at the Picasso. I know The Trafalgar though not well. just from an occasional visit. Whitebait was ususally on the menu. I agree about the view.

  3. RW (zS): This is what we drank:

    Southwold Bitter,a beautiful copper-coloured beer, late and dry-hopped with Fuggles for a distinctive, lingering hoppiness. Brewed with the finest East Anglian malted barley, sourced locally to the brewery.

    This is where we were:


    Should you ever decide to come to Britain please take my advice regarding pubs, especially in the centre of London. Many are not pubs as such and I would hate you to get the wrong impression.

    Joe: Close, but no cigar. From the Courtauld we took a bus to Bank and thereafter the DLR to the Cutty Sark. I have drunk beer perhaps a dozen times at the Trafalgar but never eaten there. Meals always at Davy's Wine Vaults a mere stroll away.

  4. Thank you for the links!! I too would have chosen the Southwold Bitter from the list ... although the Oyster Stout tantalises! I must admit I was taken aback by the curtains in the photo gallery. Curtains? In a proper pub? Suspicious. Suspicious am I. Finding myself in the British Isles, I should no doubt ask for direction to a real pub.