difference between London and Newcastle can be summed up like this: You
would never see a Geordie bloke wearing a full-length, faux fur coat. In
fact, you rarely see a Geordie bloke wearing a coat at all. A London
lad, however, just might have a big fuzzy stashed in his wardrobe,
ready to fetch on a whim and model along with a fedora, old-school
video camera and maybe even a petrified piranha watching from atop a
shelf in front of a lighted map-of-the-world mural. The point is, you
never know what you might encounter in the city with the whitest mayor the world has ever seen.
Pimm's and Sympathy
As you may have guessed, I just returned from London, a whirlwind
trip that lasted only 29 hours and was all about the girls enjoying
what one of the world's greatest cities has to offer. I met up with the lovely Bridget of Trends Inc who was in town for the week, on her way to Rome (lucky her), and we tried in vain to find our favourite Danish fashion shop, Noa Noa,
at Sloane Square. (It's gone, and it was just a section at Peter Jones
anyway, little did we know. My bad). So we consoled ourselves with some
tasty tapas at Las Iguanas. And oh yes, there were a few Pimm's
cocktails involved in our easement as well. Bridget unfortunately had to take off just as my old
childhood friend Julie, who moved to London from Canada this summer,
came to meet us. It was time to do it all over. Another tapas platter
and Pimm's, please. I regret nothing.
Comtemplating The Later Years
Next was Tate Modern for the Rothko Exhibition.
Rothko's pictures are a very personal thing for me, as they are for
anyone who fully appreciates and understands his work, but this
particular show was especially intimate - the revealing 'pictures' were
from the last years of Rothko's life, before he killed himself. The
massive canvasses and mounted papers spread over several rooms created
a palpable feeling of despair or malicious fury, depending what room
you were in (the latter was felt in the room with the Seagream's
murals, there are a two particular murals I cannot look at for this
reason). His Black on Grey series was his final series, and a telling
one. Despite the black, heavy cloud looming, there's a certain comfort,
a calm, that resonates from those soft-edged rectangles. For me, I
think it's the purity of his expression, those pictures reveal how
utterly consumed he was with what must have been unbearable despair and
sometimes, it seems, explosive anger. I find great comfort in that sharing of
our humanness, pure and raw. What is more exhilarating than that?
...Oh, and I loved how they made us exit through a particular door
which dumped us out into the makeshift Rothko giftshop. You know how I feel about that!
On the walk back from Tate Modern we passed some beautifully lit trees along the Thames,
and a graffitied skateboard area where there was a group of very young
and very loud teen girls, I'm guessing from Croydon as the accent is
quite distinct, taking pictures of themselves. Speaking of graffiti and
Croydon, I thought of Goldie Locks and tried to do an attitude shot, and
wound up looking like a one-legged Silent Bob:
Tea and Liberty
at Julie's flat in Putney, a light and spacious place with a nice,
homey feel that is due to her sweet personal touches, we crossed paths
with her advertising copywriter neighbour, the one with the fantastic
coat collection (first, above). I think he was a bit shy about being
identified so we'll just call him 'Vance'. Or Niles Crane. We (or
rather, I) pretty much badgered him into showing us a jacket he bought
from Liberty, and that's how the fashion show began. He acted shy but
he wanted to share. It's not possible to keep a treasure from Liberty
to yourself and he certainly succumbed. Hell, he mentioned it in the
first place. Speaking of Liberty, we found our way there yesterday after Julie's excellent orientation skills
lead us to Noa Noa, hidden to the unacquainted, at St. Christopher's
Place, where I picked up two mesh underskirts in slate blue and pale pink, brilliant for wearing under dresses that might do with a little enhancement or a big of extra length.
As for Liberty, time was limited as I had to get on the road back to
Newcastle soon, but we had time for a quick browse of a tiny fraction
of the jawdropping goods on display in the massive Tudor Revival
building, before stopping in the tea shop for a proper girls afternoon
tea - with scones, of course. The champagne high tea would have been a
fantastic treat, but that's for another day when time is of no
consequence. And neither is money. I look forward to that day. When it's coming?
The Sick Train (Read this only if you find toilet humour funny, and aren't eating)
Once arriving back in Newcastle, I got on the metro to go home. A Saturday night on the train is always interesting,
and this was no different. Having only eaten a banana since our tea, I
grabbed a cheeseburger and fries from a burger chain I dare not
mention, and one that I had to be desperate to patronise (nothing else
was open and I wasn't lugging my bags anywhere at that point). I
stuffed the "food" into my bag and my train arrived within minutes. I
noticed people were bypassing one of the entrances and stupid me
thinks, "oh, I'll go through there, it's not crowded", only to step on and see
a MASSIVE pile of puke to my right (ALL piles of puke around here are
massive. It's true. I've seen far too many). I sit as far away as
possible with my back to the revolting spectacle and exchange grimaces
with the two already sitting in the area. The woman said "This is what I get for going through South Shields."
Ouch. I haven't been to South Shields and this doesn't encourage me to
visit. After the two get off the train, I'm alone, reading my Grazia.
There's no one around me, and I forget what's behind me (it didn't
smell, at least where I was sitting). So I take out the cheeseburger and dig in. A few stops later a guy gets on, sees "it", does the "AUGH!", stops short, and sits near me.
I'm suddenly aware that I'm eating a greasy cheeseburger on public
transportation in the vicinity of a giant puddle of sick. I slowly
lower my hand beside my bag to hide it and chew the remaining bits in
my mouth discreetly. I was thoroughly ashamed, and still am.
But that's not it. Three kids get on, two girls and a boy who
could not have been older than 14 years old, and one of the girls was
green. She's looking at the floor as if in a hazy, agonised state. She
moves forward awkwardly and walks to where a boy is sitting several feet away,
passing the offending sight which must have seemed a late foreshadowing
of what was to come, sat down and let fly all over that poor kid (who
I'm assuming she knew. Either way, this was not his night.) Despite my
maternal instincts niggling at me to lecture the three of them about
under-age drinking (I still would never), I felt sorry for the other girl who seemed sober
and instead of laughing, or leaving, was truly sympathetic to her
friend. So I gave her the only tissues I had in my bag - a package of
bright, fairy-printed tissues that my mother-in-law gave my daughter.
She went over to help the girl clean up (good luck), and when I got up to exit the
train at my stop, I saw the new addition: Another massive pile of puke,
this one decorated with fairies and daisies.
How I would have loved see the reactions to that. If I wasn't already about to launch myself.
The last time I took the metro home after arriving back from London,
there was a drunk kid of about 18, walking up and down the carriage
singing Show Me the Way to Amarillo at the top of his lungs, and quite well, actually, while carrying around a very long broomstick.
Aye, it's good to be home.