Saturday, April 22, 2017

science march heroes

Happy Earth Day. It was chilly but sunny here, unlike Washington D.C., where my cousin and her husband, both scientists, marched with others against Trump. Proud of her!
I have a cold and also still have jet lag, and so will not be burbling merrily here as I sometimes do. Eli came for a sleepover; we went to the farm to see lambs, kids, and piggies, and especially to throw stones into the pond for some considerable length of time. Came home via the playground where we had to climb everything in sight over and over again. Managed to eat some food, and then my grandson disintegrated and I felt his forehead - hot hot hot. So, a child's Advil, some stories, and bed. Let's hope he sleeps. Hope I do too.

Tomorrow is the first round in the French elections. Last night I watched both John Oliver and Bill Maher. Sheer terror, as we laugh.

weather in Vancouver: wet


Day 
Night
POP 
Rain 
Snow 

Sun
Apr
23

12°C
7°C
90%
~15 mm
-
Mon
Apr
24

14°C
7°C
40%
~1 mm
-
Tue
Apr
25

11°C
8°C
80%
15-20 mm
-
Wed
Apr
26

11°C
7°C
80%
5-10 mm
-
Thu
Apr
27

11°C
7°C
80%
10-15 mm
-
Fri
Apr
28

12°C
7°C
70%
5-10 mm
-
Sat
Apr
29

11°C
5°C
70%
15-20 mm
-
Sun
Apr
30

10°C
4°C
60%
10-15 mm
-
Mon
May
1

12°C
5°C
40%
5-10 mm
-
Tue
May
2

10°C
5°C
60%
~20 mm
-
Wed
May
3

10°C
7°C
60%
10-15 mm
-
Thu
May
4

12°C
6°C
60%
~10 mm
-
Fri
May
5

12°C
5°C
60%
~5 mm
-
Sat
May
6

15°C
8°C
40%

Thursday, April 20, 2017

information on Beth's classes

Both my classes are starting to fill up. Life Stories starts at U of T on Tuesday May 9, running from 12.30 to 3 for eight weeks, and True to Life starts at Ryerson on Wednesday May 10, 6.30 to 9.15, for nine. More information on my website under Teaching.

I had a nice email from Matthew, who took the class two years ago and wrote to say that the students from that class have continued to meet ever since; they are all coming to the next So True on Sunday June 4, and some are going to submit essays for consideration. He wrote:
The writing group has been a wonderful addition to all our lives - both for the on-going practice and support but also for the friendship and little community we have formed. And it all stems back to your class!

Almost all my classes have produced at least a small writer's group - if not the whole class, then a few people who continue to meet and, as Matthew says, support each other in their creative endeavours and in life itself. That makes me happy.

Maudie: must see

A vile day out there - cold, pouring. But I'm in MY HOUSE WHERE IT'S WARM AND DRY. And I know where everything is. I can take food out of the freezer and HEAT IT UP. And I can do laundry ANY TIME I WANT. Does it get better than that?

Still jet-lagged, kind of woozy, but not badly. I'm getting my chores done and had a grand reunion with my family yesterday.
That's Ben ready for bed, wearing his boots - he still wears them at night, though by day, his little feet are perfect. And were in constant motion yesterday, tearing my house apart.

Today was Wayson's 78th birthday, so I made him a big lunch. He is family too. And then I went to see "Maudie." As a Nova Scotian, I've known about this marvellous, odd little folk artist for many years, loved her bright paintings. I look forward to any movie starring Sally Hawkins, an exceptionally fine British actress. And so it's no surprise that I adored this beautiful film, which has an incandescent performance by Hawkins but also Ethan Hawke doing a very good job as her almost brutish husband. It's a story of resilience and dedication, a woman with almost nothing going for her not just surviving but triumphing. She's a kind of Van Gogh, a driven soul who has to paint despite isolation and difficulty, though in the end, unlike him, she achieved recognition if not wealth before she died. Sally Hawkins's courageous and generous performance pays tribute to a courageous and generous artist. Highly recommended.

As I left the screening room, a woman stopped me and said, I saw you were at the film. What did you think? We began to talk; she loved it too. She told me she's from Newfoundland and her cousin Mary was one of the producers. And when she said Mary's name, I realized that her cousin Mary is married to my friend Nigel, whom I've known since high school. By the time I left the Varsity, this woman was another new friend. May this keep happening to me. I like it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

gulls

Home. There is peanut butter, there is forsythia, there's a piano. There are chores. Carol left me dinner in the fridge, Wayson dropped by ten minutes after I arrived, and Gretchen sent me a welcome home photo.
Woozy, however - 8 p.m. Toronto time, 1 a.m. London time. Soon time for bed.

over the Atlantic

Listening to James Ehnes play Bach partitas as we float over the Atlantic. The plane is jammed but much more comfortable than the flight over. After 25 days away, I'm going home.

What a trip. Not a single mishap. The worst thing that happened was smashing a glass of red wine at the Haymarket Theatre. Even the weather was a blessing – yes, London was chilly, but there was no rain. There was no rain anywhere except once in Paris, just after Lynn and I came inside, and a tiny sprinkling during a walk in Provence. Extraordinary.

I was almost never alone. Even after leaving old friends and flying to London, I wasn’t as alone as expected; there was time with Penny and Harriet and the unexpected friendship at the Penn Club – Chris, now sitting two seats behind me, with whom I have a lot in common. Except packing – she has a tiny suitcase for a 3-week trip, half the size of mine for a slightly shorter time away. But then, I care more about style than Chris. And there was Paris. Still. Reduce, reduce, reduce.

Wish I’d done more work, but that’s okay. I am especially glad to be returning as the world quivers before the twin psycho bullies in North Korea and the U.S. And apparently May has just called an election in England, which does not seem a good idea.

Just watched “Manchester by the Sea,” which I’d avoided before as I’d heard it was relentlessly depressing. But in fact, though it’s about unfathomable grief, it’s also about kindness, family, community, decency – much more heartening than I’d thought. And I thought the British had stiff upper lips! Which apparently they won’t any more after Prince Harry’s brave confession today.

I watched a French doc last night on the Vermeer exposition at the Louvre, showing how all those Dutch painters influenced each other, painting the same subjects in almost exactly the same ways, but Vermeer’s strength, they showed, was simplicity, taking everything unnecessary away, the meditative quality of his voyage into the self.

I’d like to say meaningful things here about France and England and travel. But it’s all a blur right now. Listening to Eric Satie. I will reclaim my piano. I will insert my own key into my own front door and walk into my own house. Funny how you don’t think about those things until you’ve been away, using other people’s keys, fitting into other people’s houses.

Back to reality. Laundry, income taxes, grocery shopping, the garden, work on the memoir. The conversation group, eating healthily again, finding a yoga class for my sore back. Getting a haircut and a pedicure. And mostly, seeing the boys, my kids. BK, this is your lovely life.

And getting ready for the next trip, next week. Don’t even want to think about it.

Later. Just watched "The Eagle Huntress" - fabulous. We're nearly there. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

David Hockney and hungry

Dear friends, the journey is nearly at an end. My fat suitcase is packed. Early tomorrow, after breakfast, my new friend Chris and I will walk across Russell Square to the tube stop which will take us directly to Heathrow. It will be an hour long trip at rush hour but never mind: Canada, here we come.

At breakfast this morning, Chris asked if I would try to see another play tonight, and I looked at her as if she was insane. Of all the things I did not want to do, navigating the West End at show time again was top of the list. And in the end, after various outings today, I came home at about 5.30, got into bed, and stayed there. I did try on-line to get a ticket to the Emily Dickenson film and was relieved - once more it was sold out. It's a very small cinema. So I didn't have to go anywhere.

This morning, I very happily went to the north entrance of the British Museum and got in immediately; when I left by the main door, the lineup, as usual, was all the way down the block. Lesson: always check if there's an alternate entrance. The museum is ridiculous, so crammed with treasure and history that my eyes were crossed after an hour. What you do realize, though, is that a great deal of what's there was plundered from other countries by intrepid, greedy British explorers and collectors. And sometimes that's good, especially, for example, when you see fabulous things from the Middle East that have been preserved, as opposed to those which are being smashed by Isis as we speak. But still, it must gall Greece and Italy and many other countries that so much of their heritage is here in London. Including the most famous pillage of all, the Elgin Marbles.

However, I enjoyed looking at mankind's creativity through the centuries, some artifacts from many hundreds of years BC. There's a great new innovation - touching centres, where experts talk about actual ancient things and we can touch and even hold them.

Someone else I visit when I come to London: Sekhmet, 1370 B.C., the "lion-headed goddess of healing."

Out into the cold light of 2017 for a walk down the capitalist madhouse that is Oxford Street. After the orgy I witnessed there, I may never shop again. Ha! But the frenzy is truly horrifying. Took my Marylebone hosts, Christopher, Cristina and 3 year old Marina, for lunch to thank them for my five days in their home. Christopher is French and Cristina is Spanish; their little daughter speaks three languages. They were concerned Brexit would force them to move, but it looks as if they've been here long enough, and Christopher's banking job is centred here, so they will be able to stay.

Caught the #88 bus on Regent St., was thrilled the best seat, on top at the front, was free, had a great view as we sailed through Piccadilly and Trafalgar Square, by Big Ben and the houses of Parliament, and finally to the Tate Britain. I'd booked a ticket to see a massive new retrospective of David Hockney's work that everyone is talking about. No question, the man is a phenomenal talent, adept at a variety of styles. He has spent much of his working life in California, though he also moved back to Britain late in life and then back to the States; it's interesting that the American work is in extremely bright, almost lurid colours, and the British work is much more delicate and green. He has worked on huge canvasses, with Polaroid collages and charcoal and with film, and at the end we see his current work on an iPad, which is gorgeous. He's 79 and still churning it out, just like Macca in the doc I saw yesterday, though my Macca is only 75. These amazing artists who never ever stop. Admirable. A bit terrifying. Ian Brown wrote a very perceptive article about the exhibition.
https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/arts/art-and-architecture/at-londons-tate-britain-the-world-through-artist-david-hockneyseyes/article34505384/?ref=http://www.theglobeandmail.com&

I wanted to see more of Tate Britain, but after a wander through the Pre-Raphaelites and a few other rooms, I'd had it up to here with art. No more art, no more beauty, I cannot see another thing, I am stuffed. I think the exact same thing has happened on past trips. Dragged my aching feet onto another bus - another seat at the top front - and got myself nearly home. Passed a Sainsburys grocery store on the final lap and went in to buy one of those small bottles of wine, so I wouldn't have to go to a pub or bar. Contemplated buying a salad for dinner but didn't. Mistake. Because once I got into my room, that was it. I managed to rustle up half a hot cross bun and a hard boiled egg I'd brought with me from the flat - that, with two glasses of wine, was my dinner. I'm hungry. But I don't care, I'm not going anywhere but home.

My almost-last view of London tomorrow will be the trees of Russell Square. Thank you for everything, London. Thank you Paris, Gordes, Montpellier, Nice. Thank you Lynn, Denis, Bruce, Penny, Christopher and Cristina. Onward.
 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sunday stroll

Second last day in London - Easter Sunday. It was cold, but it didn't rain. Headline in weather section of newspaper: "Why Easter will be colder than Christmas." Do tell.

I went to Eucharist service at St. George's, an Anglican church nearby that advertises itself as "not too stuffy," and that after the service there'd be "Buck's fizz and an easter egg hunt." I didn't last long enough for a Buck's fizz - champagne and orange juice - but I did enjoy half an hour of incense, singing, and story, men in long white dresses reading from big books. Sorry, should be more respectful. I do love sitting in church, briefly, and this one reminded me of my Anglican mother, whose father was the village organist. But also of my atheist father, who hated all this stuff.

Intended to go then to the British Museum, but the lineup to get in was a mile long. There are lineups everywhere now because of bag inspections at all museums, men poking a desultory flashlight into women's handbags. At St. Paul's Cathedral too. So changed the plan.

Instead, starting walking toward the river - walked down Drury Lane - all the streets around here, Theatreland as its called, named for actors - and along Fleet Street to St. Paul's to do it again, hear the singing reverberate up into that magnificent dome. Quite glorious. Then across the Millennium Bridge to the Tate Modern, where I saw a special exhibition of Elton John's photographs. He has a vast collection - there was a film showing his house, every speck of wall covered. This exhibition showed the earliest ones, from the twenties and thirties. But of them all, the most haunting were Walker Evans's and especially Dorothea Lange's faces from the Depression. I've seen "Migrant Mother" before, of course, but seeing her desperation up close and in detail is haunting.

Wandered through the regular collection - headed for the stuff I love, Mark Rothko presented with Monet, beautiful, whereas some of the modern stuff I just don't get or don't much like. But the museum is fresh and modern and open, full of kids.

A wander along the Thames, then back over the bridge and walk to Bloomsbury. Found a restaurant I'd noted earlier, had lunch, and headed back to the Museum - still a long lineup! But I heard a security man pointing people to the "north entrance" and discovered an alternate, less known way in that I'm going to try tomorrow. Went home for a rest after a long walk in a high wind. Checked email and Facebook when what popped up but a documentary about Macca. So lay in bed for an hour, watching a great doc. At one point, Giles Martin, George Martin's son and a music producer too, said, "My father said Paul was the most skilled musician he'd ever worked with." And at the end, another producer said, "When I started working with him, I thought, all those rumours about him being so nice can't be true, there must be another side. But they are true. That's why he has been loved for so long."

Sigh.

AT 6.30, went to the nearby Renoir Cinema to see the new movie about Emily Dickenson, "A Quiet Passion," but it was sold out. I didn't mind - walked in the nearby square instead - so brilliant, all those squares, little green paradises. I've fallen in love with London's ancient trees, so magnificent, they give this mad city grace and dignity.

And then a treat - on the recommendation of friend and fellow blogger Theresa Kishkan, whom I've never met, I went to a local Turkish restaurant, Tas, for dinner. Finally, I had my dinner out, and it was wonderful. "Vegetables!" Theresa wrote, and that's what I had with my glass of Turkish red - a big dish of tasty vegetables, eggplant especially, my fave, with yogurt. Back at the Penn Club, I went into the library and read newspapers for an hour. There's a room full of books and papers - the Times, the Observer, the Telegraph - for patrons. And patronize I did - terrifying stories of Trump and North Korea interspersed with spring gardening tips and articles about Pippa Middleton's wedding. I thought about the newspaper Lynn and Denis read, "Le Monde," so dense and heavy with few pictures, whereas the British papers are full of chat and colour, and marvel again that two countries separated only by a small body of water can be so different.

Last day tomorrow. Grateful for every moment. Grateful it is coming to an end. My feet can't take any more, or my eyeballs either.

Easter Sunday in London

Yesterday, my walk around Bloomsbury. This is Gordon Square. Virginia, Vanessa, and their coterie lived around the square for years. The picture is Virginia and Lytton Strachey, who lived next door.
One of their stately homes on a beautiful sunny street right on the square, a lovely place to live.
Walking to "The Goat" last night, passed this. Dying to see it. It's sold out a year in advance and just won a bunch of British theatre awards. That amazing woman can do no wrong!
Today's walk: on my way to St. Paul's, passed the courthouse on Fleet Street, a humble little building.
I liked this: Messrs. Hoare, Bankers, site of the Mitre (religious headgear) Tavern. Seems apt all round.
 St. Paul's on Easter Sunday. Magnificent inside, the choir echoing up into the dome.
 Across the Millennium Bridge - what a view, the Tower, London Bridge, the Shard.
From inside the Tate Modern - an art installation with blasts of mist and neon lights. Children especially adore it, running in and out. I went through the mist later and got damp. Don't like damp because I'm a grown up, unfortunately.
Inside the Tate Modern, an incredible museum - Agnes Martin, a famous Canadian. She was born in Saskatchewan, which I think accounts for the vast spaces of her canvasses.
The Millennium Bridge, which had to be closed for a bit after it opened because it was twisting in the wind.
 My people
Shakespeare's Globe
Lunch in an Italian restaurant outside near the British Museum - that's the London Review of Books shop on the other side, unfortunately closed all weekend. I drooled outside the window. A 12 pound lunch included pasta, a wilted salad, and a glass of red, which I did not knock over. Delicious.

A fantastic day which I'll detail later. Got to rest and go out again for more.

The Goat

Rapture has returned. It's a beautiful Easter morning - rain predicted but not happening yet - and I, cosy in this bright little room. Just had a huge breakfast downstairs, smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and surprisingly good coffee, and ended up chatting with the woman at the next table, a Brit married to an American, living near Detroit, who's doing a lot of the same London things I am. Much discussion of "Don Juan." And then - what are the chances? - it turned out she is taking the same Air Canada plane from Heathrow to Toronto's Pearson on Tuesday. So my new BFF Chris and I will go out to the airport together.

It also turns out that not everything is closed today, in fact, a lot is open as usual, and much of the rest will open at noon. So much for a contemplative day walking and working. My list of possibilities is long, including the British Museum, which will be flooded, walking across the Thames on the Millennial Bridge, going to a church service nearby or to a choral evensong at St. Martin in the Fields, seeing a new movie about Emily Dickenson ... stop writing and get out there, woman!

But first, last night, another play - "The Goat, or who is Sylvia?" by Edward Albee, starring Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo, at the Haymarket. On the way, I needed dinner and was desperate for a salad, have been living on bread, but could not face a crowded restaurant, simply had a tuna sandwich at Pret a Manger and delicious it was too. When I get home, it's lettuce for days for me.

Walking through the West End at 7 p.m.- insane. Impossible to move, seven trillion people. So I was very relieved to get into the theatre and make my way to the impossibly elegant bar, all cream walls, delicate filigree detail, a jewel-box. Stood against the wall, took a sip of my red wine, put it down on the convenient shelf, feeling sophisticated, with it, here I am, London, in this pretty place with my glass of wine. When somehow - how? - I moved my arm and knocked the wine over, smashed the glass, splattered wine all over the beautiful cream walls, broken glass and red wine filling my purse. So much for sophisticated and with it. The nice bar lady helped me clean up and gave me another glass while I mopped at my coat, soaked in wine. Sigh.

The play is bizarre - about, yes, a man who falls deeply in love with ... a goat and is having sex with her, to the horror of his loving wife and son. It's a difficult part, balanced between anguish and comedy, and Damian Lewis is a superb actor who pulled it off. Okonedo is brilliant too, as is the rest of the cast. A fantastic production of a difficult, melodramatic play. Afterwards, you really know you've been at the theatre. Very glad I saw it, even if I was in the second row, looking up, practically on the stage. Great actors, these British, the best on the planet.

What joy - it started at 7.30 with no intermission, so I knew I'd be out of the West End before the rest of the theatre crowd started pouring out, a huge relief. I walked home through the mad streets, wonderful to turn right along Little Russell Street and find myself in serene Bloomsbury.

Happy camper, over and out, into the Easter streets.

P.S. My coat, luckily, the one dowsed in red wine, is a dark brown Uniqlo, and nothing shows today, not a single splatter. Miraculous. A shout out to Uniqlo and its lightweight down gear, which has made travel far, far easier. I am what the French call frileuse - always cold - and the wind in London has been bitter. But I've never been cold in my layers from Uniqlo, sometimes 3 at once - vest, jacket, coat. Thank God for dark brown and down.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Harriet's movie, Regent's Park, Bloomsbury

Last night I went to the Everyman Cinema on Baker St. to see Harriet's movie, The Sense of an Ending. The ticket was expensive, and I saw why - it's like a club, you can get food, cappuccino, wine, served to you in your big, luxurious seat. I curled up and enjoyed the film. It's odd, a bit laborious and slow, I found, and when I got home I had to google to figure out bits of the plot; readers of the book won't have that problem. Some of it, actually, didn't make much sense. But it was a joy, while in London, to watch a film that takes place in London, recognizing landmarks, shops, busses, feeling almost familiar and at home.

What's most powerful about the film, and I say this 100% objectively, is Harriet's performance as the protagonist's ex-wife. Her face is infinitely expressive, her eyes, her mouth, I just wanted to watch her forever. She is a hundred times better than Charlotte Rampling, who I felt was phoning it in, doing her mysterious woman schtick half asleep. Harriet Walter was as alive as anyone I've ever seen on screen.
Over our coffee, I was amazed when she told me she remembers our school production of the "Three Sisters" and how she thought I was a wonderful actress. When I look at her career, I wonder what would have happened if I'd stuck with acting. But no ... I could not and would not have. She's a born actress, to her fingertips, though she's also a terrific writer. Mucho talento, as the Spanish say.

This morning, I did some excruciating work, cutting the bits of the memoir my editor Colin Thomas wants cut - over 6000 of my precious words. And though momentum has been gained and the story moves along more quickly, I think something is also lost, so there's work to be done figuring out how to fix it, still. At least, as always, the first third of the book. It was a painful chore; glad it's begun.

As my reward, a walk in Regent's Park, as beautiful as it gets on a cool, cloudy day.


There are black swans with red beaks in the picture above. The British sure know how to do parks. Stunning, welcoming, glorious.

Christopher and Cristina have new guests arriving early tomorrow morning; time to clean the apartment, vacuum, wash floors and sinks, make sure no trace of me is left except a few gifts and a jug from Selfridge's to replace the vase I broke, and take the bus across the city to my hotel in Bloomsbury. I'm so grateful to my hosts for five nights there. With the Canadian dollar as it is, three nights in my small room at the Penn Club, including a hefty chunk of tax, is costing $600. Mind you, I have the luxury of my own bathroom and two bright windows overlooking a garden. It's cosy and simple, a Quaker hotel in a great location with a big breakfast, and I love it. I can hear birds, and the sun is pouring in.
Otherwise, I have been as thrifty as possible  - including not one full restaurant dinner through the entire trip. Tonight, another play. Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, everything is closed and it's supposed to rain, so I'll work and walk. Monday, I hope to take C and C and their daughter Marina for lunch and then I have a booked ticket to see the David Hockney retrospective at Tate Britain. And that's it. I fly home early Tuesday. Anna just sent me pix of her boys in the alley outside their house, engrossed in tossing pebbles down a drain. It looks like so much fun. I can't wait to join them.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday

I've regained my sense of humour and love for this magnificent city. Yes, it's still grey and cold, as it always is, and yes, it's unbelievably, insanely, crowded. But it's also stuffed with treasure and beauty, history and tradition and style. And it's still not actually raining. Yet.

This morning was museum day - off to the National Gallery to be there as it opened, clever me. Arrived at five to ten, to find hundreds of people in a queue by the entrance. Curses, foiled again! I stood in line as the queue shuffled forward, one by one, and decided, no, this will take at least half an hour, I'll go to the Portrait Gallery instead and try again later. So I headed there, when, on the other side of the building, I saw another door with people walking in. Sure enough, it was another entrance, empty, no one. I just walked in and there I was in one of the greatest museums on earth, my own favourite. There were tears. For a minute, I had one of the central rooms all to myself. By the time I left, every room was jammed.
It's a gorgeous building full of gorgeous work, spanning hundreds of years. Just beautiful.
Van Gogh's chair
Vase of flowers by Bosschaert the Elder, 1609
The Magdelane reading, Rogier van der Weyden, 1438
One of my favourite paintings of all time - Botticelli, 1480. When I was at theatre school here in 1971, I was reading an art book when I was struck by this painting and saw it was at the National Gallery. I put on my coat, got on a double-decker, and in less than an hour was standing in front of the real thing. I love this young man, so grave with his calm, direct gaze looking right at us, hundreds of years in the future. Every time I come to London, I go to visit him. 

Had a coffee, saw more art till my feet hurt and the crowds - oh the school trips, giant packs of bored teenagers charging through - were too big. Outside, they were preparing for a Good Friday pageant featuring, they warned us over loudspeakers, a realistic re-enactment of the crucifixion, parental advisory in effect. Of all the things I do not want ever to see, that is top of the list.
That's a troupe of Roman soldiers, getting ready to round up Jesus, I guess. 

Off to the National Portrait Gallery, another huge favourite. An amazing coincidence - as I entered one room, I saw two familiar faces - my friend Penny and her friend Steve, spending a few hours in London before returning home after a family visit! Penny is almost the only person I know in England, and there she was - what are the chances of that encounter? She is researching an anti-slavery activist with roots in Sheffield, where she lives, and showed me a painting of the first huge anti-slavery meeting in England with her lady in attendance, plus Mrs. Byron and all sorts of British gentry. I told her I envy this culture, that not only produced extraordinary people but also great artists to memorialize them for eternity. Here are two famous faces:
 The virgin queen
Neither a virgin nor a queen. A portrait called "Mike's brother" - the painter was a friend of Macca's brother Mike. Be still my beating heart.

I ploughed through the massive crowds, got the tube home, had lunch and rested, went out again. I broke a glass vase here and have been trying to find a replacement, decided, bravely, to go to Selfridge's, which has everything. I guess Good Friday is shopping day in London, because that's what the entire city is doing today, including, it looks to me, the entire Saudi royal family swathed in head to toe black cloth. Here are some pix from my walk:
a park nearby
 The crammed sidewalk outside Selfridge's on Oxford Street
Just inside, the most lovely thing: a display of luminous photographs of birds by Luke Stephenson. People were charging by - I stopped to look and was nearly trampled. I don't know how he achieved such detail, but the pictures are stunning.

An orange-cheeked waxbill. As beautiful as anything at the National Gallery.

I managed to get something like the broken vase - what a shop, there's everything, I confess I did hang around the stationary section for a bit - and then walked home. Now more resting and a few glasses of wine before going out again to a local cinema to see my friend Harriet's just-released movie, The Sense of an Ending. I bought my ticket in advance, and was shocked: it cost 17 pounds 50. That's nearly $30. For a movie. This town is absurdly expensive anyway, and with the low Canadian dollar, it's crippling. There will be no more shopping.