Monday 7 December 2015

Ah London

I spotted this plaque while walking through Bloomsbury at the weekend with my Derbyshire cousin, who knows much of London rather better than I, the native, do. Hoho, I thought as I read the plaque, I wonder which witty 18th-century Bloomsbury intellectual put that up, and what kind of nothing it was that happened that day. Later, however, browsing the internet, I discovered the sad truth: these plaques are mass-produced and available to buy on Amazon. Their origin is, it seems, unknown - but unlikely to have anything to do with Bloomsbury or even 1782. Ah well...
 A happier find was the odd-looking church of St George the Martyr, Holborn, which was open for some kind of choral rehearsal, so we stepped in to have a look. It's a Baroque church much remodelled in the 19th century, and inside it's really rather fine - a Wren-style box warmed and Christianised by good, relatively restrained Victorian furnishings at the holy end (or rather side). The antiquary William Stukeley was rector here in the 18th century, and on Bloomsday 1956 the church witnessed the ill-fated marriage of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath. That's London - history (and oddity) wherever you look.
 I'd forgotten how enjoyable walking through London can be. This walk took us eventually to the Courtauld, then over the river to the South Bank and the Christmas exhibition at the Bankside Gallery. It's a selling exhibition of small works - etchings, woodcuts and engravings, monoprints, mixed media, watercolours - with some lovely work at remarkably low prices, especially among the prints. If you're in a buying mood, hurry along and have a look.
 On the other hand, St Pancras, that greatest of all the London termini, is currently home to an abomination of a Christmas tree - a gigantic, conifer-shaped mass of Disney characters in toy form, topped by the inevitable Mickey Mouse. Jeff Koons himself could not have produced anything quite so revolting. Indeed, it makes the hideous giant statue of The Lovers at the other end of the station look almost like art. If you're passing through St Pancras over the festive season, keep your head well down. Ah London - human awful wonder of God...

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