Wednesday, November 24, 2010
We've been in London the last few days, having joined a friend who was coming here on business. I've noticed that people tend to like either London or Paris, rarely both. It's clear which one we've chosen and so we haven't been in London in years, but we thought we'd try it again. Yep, it's still not Paris.
Lots of other people feel differently. It's extraordinary that of the couple of dozen people we've come into contact with in restaurants and shops and hotels, fewer than five were native English-speakers. The cabbies all are though, and they still know every inch of the town.
There's a lot to do and see. We went to the Gauguin exhibition at the Tate Modern (I liked the building, not the show) and dropped into the National Gallery to say hello to the Rokeby Venus and a few other spectacular paintings. The National Portrait Gallery has always been one of our favorite museums and we spent a couple of hours looking at the faces of people we'd heard of in history classes. It's got a new café on the top floor with a nice view as well.
We walked over the Millenium Bridge after hearing a mother say to her child "They built it for the millenium and it wobbles." We didn't feel it wobbling at all. We wandered a bit in Knightsbridge, saw Victoria and Albert's art collection in the Queen's Gallery and the carriages in the Royal Mews, and the new Saachi Gallery on the King's Road.
We saw several plays, including a great version of Sheridan's The Rivals, an okay version of Wilde's An Ideal Husband, and War Horse, notable for the extraordinary puppetry that made skeletal figures of horses alive in your imagination. Unfortunately no one had breathed any life into the story.
So we've done a lot in the few days the we've been here, but it'll be a while before we come back again. There's something about London that fails to grip us, although I can't explain what it is. Maybe it's true that you love either London or Paris, and our hearts are committed elsewhere.