London – The Weekend

 

 

“When I was a child, running in the night

Afraid of what might be.

Hiding in the dark, hiding in the street

And of what was following me…”

Kate Bush

Hounds of Love” from Hounds of Love

1985

 

 

When I woke Saturday morning, I was still floating from the joy of the previous day’s Harry Potter adventure. I was also still dragging from the London Croup. Mister had kept quiet so I could sleep in a bit, and I greatly appreciated that. But I knew it wouldn’t be enough. I was willing to try and muster up the energy to tick a few items off our to-tourist list, so I bucked up and put my big-girl pants on.

 

 

 

As it was post-breakfast and I knew I couldn’t handle one more day of skipping meals, I practically begged Mister to go out with me for a nice Indian lunch. The way I saw it, some hot, spicy curry might help the symptoms of my evolving London Croup. It was worth a shot, right? So we made our way to the Covent Garden area to Dishoom. When we walked in to find nearly half of the customers resembling folks of Indian descent, we knew we were in the right spot. After feasting on a lunch of amazing food, we were incredibly happy with our restaurant choice. If you’re ever in that area, I highly recommend Dishoom.

 

 

 

After lunch we walked and talked, taking our time. There was no place we had to be, so we simply roamed. At some point we decided to refer to our list of things we wanted to do in London.

 

 

Our next agenda item was The Courtald Gallery, located in Somerset House (which has a fairly interesting history in and of itself). This is one of those places we would never have known about, had my art teacher not recommended a visit.

 

 

It’s not as vast a gallery as The National Museum, but it’s still impressive. Now that I think about it, maybe the fact that it’s more manageable in scale is part of its attraction. We saw the whole joint and it was pretty danged cool.

 

 

From there, we walked in the direction of our hotel.

 

 

As we neared the hotel, Mister’s curiosity could wait no longer. You see, each day we would pass a pub called Bag O’ Nails and each day Mister wanted to go in. I wasn’t completely against the idea, I just thought it would probably be a little too touristy, as it was across the street from the Tube. (I do realize we ourselves were tourists.) As we were still fairly full from lunch and would not be ordering food, I said okay. So the Bag O’ Nails it was. Mister ordered a pint and I ordered tea – London Croup and all.

 

By the way, have I mentioned that I had my last drinks after the Harry Potter experience? I tried, thinking a bit of alcohol might serve a medicinal role. That didn’t hold true, however, and I was therefore off the drink. Sad. Sad, I tell you.

 

Back to the Bag O’ Nails. Mister had his pint and I had my tea and by then we’d both had quite enough. It wasn’t a terrible place, but it wasn’t grand, either. It was, however, checked off. And that meant a short walk to the hotel and sleep.

 

 

When Sunday morning arrived, I was more rested. I was also more ill. I mean really, London Croup! What the hell? Anyhoo, against all odds, Mister and I woke during breakfast hours. And we actually had breakfast! Can you imagine?

 

 

We ate and then walked around a bit before heading back to the hotel, via Buckingham Palace. Food had helped, but I was beat. I encouraged Mister to head out on his own, so as not to waste the day, but he’s not that kind of guy. He stayed in with me and we did a bunch of nothing. For reals. Just - nothing. We read a bit. We watched telly. We chilled. And it was awesome. By early evening, I was more rested, but also tired. I know it sounds crazy, but that’s how I felt. And I couldn’t have appreciated Mister’s willingness to let me off the hook any more than I did. Honestly, that day in felt like it saved my life.

 

 

At some point we thought to go out for dinner. It was one day before the official start of Autumn, but London seemed to have already crossed over. The air was crisp and the temperature dropped. We walked around the corner to our “local” – The Phoenix – for one last meal. As it was Sunday, we ordered The Roast (for 2) and dug in. For those of you keeping score, that meant we ate 2 meals that day. A record!

 

 

After dinner, it was still fairly early, so we opted to walk a new-to-us route back to the hotel.  There were some interesting sights along the way.

 

 

Back in our room, we made plans for the next day, knowing it was to be our last in London.

 

 

With full bellies, we settled in…

 

 

To be continued…

London – Harry Potter

 

 

“Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow, Wow -

Unbelievable.”

Kate Bush

Wow” from Lionheart

1978

 

 

When I woke, I felt something I did not wish to feel: a tickle in my throat. I had been all over London the past few days, and people were hacking and sneezing in every direction. But I’m a compulsive hand-washer. I’m downright wacky about not touching any part of my face while out in the world. How could I have picked up a germ? I couldn’t give myself an answer, but that didn’t change the fact that I had indeed contracted something. And the tickle was wasting no time in turning into pain. But what could I do? I had places to go and things to see, for cry-eye!

 

It started a few weeks before the trip. Mister and I had talked about taking the short trip outside London to Watford. What is in Watford, you may ask? Leavesden Studios are located in Watford, friends. And that is the home of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. (It is a studio tour, not to be confused with the theme park in Orlando, Florida.) It’s easy enough to procure tickets online, but I wanted to immerse myself so deeply in that tour that my Golden Snitch would pop. So I contacted someone Mister and I know and asked for a favor. I had no expectations, as people are busy and if I didn’t hear back from the guy, well, no worries. I just thought I’d ask. And the most amazing thing happened. Our friend responded. Not only did he respond, he came through. Big time. We were to have our very own personal guide for the tour!

 

 

Anyhoo, back to that fateful Friday morning – the one with the sore throat. Mister and I headed out early, as I’m mortified of being late. First we went to Kings Cross Station, as we’d heard Platform 9 3/4 was there and we wanted to see it. Even though there was a queue of folks waiting for photos, I just couldn’t get into it. Not sure why, but it was kind of a letdown. And that made me sad. So we took the Tube to Euston Station and purchased tickets on the Overground Train to Watford Junction. I kept telling Mister that getting there early would give us an opportunity to have a little something for lunch before our tour. (As we’d missed breakfast – again – this sounded like a grand plan to me.) Taking the train was easy, then we caught the WB shuttle to the Studios. Easy. We were indeed early, and there was a cafe there, and we should have eaten. But we didn’t. Again, this one meal per day business… I don’t know what we were thinking. But I digress…

 

 

We went through the gift shop (which is fabulous, by the way) and took photos of ourselves a la the “Wanted” posters seen in the movies. (Yes, we are supreme dorks.) And it was awesome! Then we walked around the lobby and admired the portraits of the actors taken over the 10-year period of filming the movies. That alone brought giddy smiles and I was so happy! We weren’t even on the tour yet, y’all, and I was about to bust my buttons! So I got a coffee and we sat for a few minutes. When our designated tour time arrived, our designated tour guide appeared. Her name was Michelle and she was immensely likable. She led us to a room where the tour introduction is made and we were off. Note: I’m going to give you an abbreviated telling of our tour experience, because between the two of us, Mister and I took about 3 million-billion-godzillion photos. And y’all – that’s a few too many pics for a blog post.

 

 

After a brief introductory video, we and all the other folks with the same timed entry were led into a small auditorium. Once seated, our collective gaze fell on the doors before us: the entrance to The Great Hall of Hogwarts.

 

 

A brief speech was made by one of the guides and then, unexpectedly, he asked if Mikki and Mister were present. We looked at each other, then timidly raised our hands. We were asked to come forward, so Mister and I did. We were then directed to open the grand doors for all to enter…

 

 

Kids – I know we were standing on a film set. This place isn’t ancient or anything, but its beauty and place in my heart brought tears to my eyes. It is spectacular! And immense. There are so many things to admire and study in this room, one could spend all day there. But the tour was just beginning, so we were all led onward.

 

 

Our tour guide, Michelle, was keen to answer any and all questions and to say she is a font of information is an extreme understatement of the most ridiculous magnitude. Michelle was providing us with so many facts and stories, we could hardly keep up. Here are a few of the sights we encountered, starting with the Gryffindor Common Room…

 

 

The Fat Lady Portrait, showing actress Elizabeth Spriggs. Ms. Spriggs died during the production of the films. Our guide told us that after her passing, the producers were in need of another actress to fill her mighty frame. Apparently, actress/writer/comic Dawn French called up the producers and said something along the lines of, “So I heard you need a fat lady. I’m a fat lady.” The rest, as they say, is history…

 

 

The Weasley Clock…

 

 

Quidditch!…

 

 

Wands of the various characters – each handcrafted and unique…

 

 

At this point, we thought we must surely be near the end of the tour. That’s when Michelle told us we were about halfway through (wha?) and that we could take a short break – outside – and grab ourselves a snack if we so chose. We did chose, but as we had an impressive track-record of skipping meals to the point of weakness, we opted to only indulge in Butterbeer. No food…

 

 

Whereas the first part of the tour involved sets and props, the second part featured mostly technical aspects of the productions, such as various masks from Gringotts Goblins…

 

 

Buckbeak the Hippogriff – When Buckbeak came alive and started moving, it was beautiful…

 

 

If I tell you I love Dobby, I am underselling my emotions…

 

 

 

Then we entered Diagon Alley, which is spectacular…

 

 

Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes made me smile…

 

 

When we reached the small architectural model of Hogwarts, we thought that was it.

 

 

The tour must surely be over, right? Wrong. Michelle had given no indication that once we rounded the final corner, we’d encounter the filmed model of Hogwarts…

 

 

I happen to believe in magic. But if I’d been a non-believer, walking into that room would have converted me. The majestic beauty of Hogwarts gripped my very soul. Joyful tears filled my eyes and I was in awe. Walking all around the model, Mister and I were completely overwhelmed. Hogwarts! It is truly a sight to behold.

 

 

 

After leaving the Hogwarts room, everyone passes through a lovely space dedicated to all the people who worked on the Harry Potter films. Wand Boxes line the walls, top to bottom. Each box is labeled with the name of a person who contributed to production in some way. The big names are there, of course, but so are the names of people most of us will never know. It’s a lovely homage to the efforts of the many. And it was a fitting way to wrap up the tour.

 

 

We took a few parting photos, then it was time to say goodbye to our tour guide. Michelle made that day for us. Yes, we would have loved the tour had we taken it on our own. But we didn’t take it on our own. We had been guided and informed by a spectacular, dedicated, knowledgeable employee. And we loved it. We also adored her! We all hugged each other and said our goodbyes, then Mister and I picked up a few souvenirs at the gift shop. Our tour had lasted four and a half hours! We were happily spent and couldn’t believe everything we’d seen.

 

 

After the train ride back to London, we dropped our souvenirs at the hotel and headed out for a pub crawl. And food. All day without eating had left us weak. I’m no doctor, but I’m pretty sure not eating wasn’t helping to fuel my body’s fight against whatever evil germ was attacking my throat. So we found a pub and had a fab dinner, then moseyed to another pub.

 

 

Y’all, I was trying. I really was. If Mister had said he’d wanted to hit up 10 more pubs, I would have given it my all. But the truth is, I was wavering. The London Croup (Mister’s name for it) was wiping me out and I felt awful. I guess I must’ve looked awful, too, because at some point Mister glanced at me and said he thought I needed to get some rest. We started walking back to the hotel and a sneezing fit grabbed hold of me and shook me silly. That’s when I knew I was defeated. We got to the hotel, I readied for bed and I very nearly passed out. As I was drifting off, I realized I was smiling. Wow – what a day! What a privileged experience! And then I fell asleep, with magical visions of Harry Potter drifting through my mind…

 

 

To be continued…

London – Big Night

 

 

“Take the stone out of the mango.

You put it in your mouth and pull a plum out.”

Kate Bush

“Eat the Music” from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

The morning after the Kate Bush show found us happy. Happy and famished. This one meal per day business was for the birds, I tell you. We pulled on some clothes and headed around the corner to The Phoenix, our temporary local, for breakfast lunch. Neither of us wanted to overdo it, as we knew we had a Big Night before us. And by Big Night I mean a spectacular dinner reservation. Once sustenance had been obtained, we got in a bit more tourist-ing.

 

 

After making our way to the Trafalgar Square area, we stopped in St. Martin-in-the-Fields church. Years ago on a London trip without Mister, I had gone there almost daily for the lunchtime concerts. I wanted him to see how beautiful it is. Musicians were assembled and rehearsing a bit of Vivaldi. It was lovely.

 

 

There’s just something about this church that’s relaxing and calming. Clearly, we weren’t the only ones finding respite within its walls.

 

 

We then moved over to the National Portrait Gallery. As the name implies, this museum is filled with portraits – the largest collection in the world. Some are traditional, some are contemporary. It was a gorgeous outing, but I have no pictures as photography was not allowed. Still, I’m glad we went. There were some amazing works and I learned a lot.

 

 

At some point we realized we needed to get back to the hotel to ready ourselves for dinner. Dinner! We had made the reservation 3 months prior. That’s right – 3 months. Is it a hot ticket? Yes. Worth it? Dear Lord, yes. Anyhoo, we made ourselves presentable and traveled the short distance to Hyde Park and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Here’s the gist: Chef Heston Blumenthal has unearthed a bevy of old and sometimes ancient recipes. He has updated them to suit today’s palates and ingredients and serves these dishes in his beautiful restaurant. It ain’t cheap, y’all. But for a special occasion, I highly recommend it.

 

 

We had talked it over beforehand and decided to really be present at dinner, and to focus on the meal (and each other). So we have only a couple of photos of food from the entire night…

 

 

This dish is called Meat Fruit and the menu describes it thusly: Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread. The original recipe dates from between the 13th and 15th centuries (!) and is super-fabulous. I first learned of this amazing starter a few months back when I read a beautiful step-by-step, with photos. The tutorial didn’t make me want to prepare this dish, but it did make me want to eat it. And eat it we did. With gusto.

 

 

By the end of dinner, I was so pleasantly plump that I wished for a wheel barrow to take me to the hotel. Since none appeared, Mister and I took the Tube back and were ready for beddie in no time.

 

It had been another privileged day, and it wasn’t lost on us. Just before nodding off, we remembered what the next day held…

 

To be continued…

London – Kate Bush

 

 

“And I can hear my mother sayin’

‘Every old sock meets an old shoe.’

Isn’t that a great sayin’?”

Kate Bush

Moments of Pleasure” from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

We woke to a new day and an anniversary. We knew we had the Kate Bush concert that night and were fairly bursting at the seams. But that wasn’t until the evening. Until then, there was time to tick an item or two off our tourist list.

 

 

As we’d slept in, we’d missed the appropriate time for breakfast. Instead, we set our minds to thinking about lunch. With that goal filed away, the two of us readied for the day and headed out. Our destination? Selfridges.

 

 

Mister and I have been watching the PBS-Masterpiece Theatre show “Mr. Selfridge” and we are hooked. It is now one of our “stories” and we’re not ashamed. While I knew of the store, it just wasn’t a place I’d ever wanted to visit during previous trips to London. But this time was different. Knowing a bit of the history of the place endeared it to us. What can I say? We wanted to see the house that Harry built. All in all, it’s a modern-day department store. It’s fabulous, of course, but it is a department store. The things we wanted to see were the clock outside and the ground floor. Some of it is original, but not much.

 

 

As we’d missed breakfast – again – lunch was in order. And since it was our actual anniversary, we decided to have ourselves a pretty sweet spread. And so we did.

 

 

After walking around the store and seeing most of what it had to offer, we headed out.

 

 

Now, our concert tickets held assigned seats. So there was no need to get there and wait for hours on end. But for some reason, I was keen to do just that. Mister’s cooler head prevailed, however, and we got there about 30 minutes before the doors were due to open. And yes, there was quite a queue. Everyone was so excited! People were smiling and appeared to be in great moods. Of course they were! We were all about to see Kate friggin’ Bush! And here’s something I noticed: the majority of the queue seemed to be male. Hmm. Anyhoo, a few minutes before the designated time, the doors were opened and the ticket-holders began filing inside. Hole-y doughnuts! It was happening!

 

 

The first stop for me and most everyone else was the merch stand. I had come on a mission not only for myself, but also for my friend Betro. She had requested a program and – get this – a piece of confetti. (For the record, I had no idea what she was talking about when she asked for confetti, as I had successfully avoided reading about the concerts before going. All I knew was that Betro had said, “Trust me – you want a piece of confetti.”) So Mister and I pressed toward the merch stand and did our best to be patient. With the exception of feeling a bit crushed by the enthusiastic throng, the process was pretty smooth. Again, you have to think about how excited we all were. This merch business wasn’t going to bring us down. Kate friggin’ Bush! When I was finally standing before the chick behind the counter, I was ready. I got programs for both Betro and us, t-shirts for Mister and for me and, because I couldn’t resist, I got myself a souvenir mug. I absolutely love it.

 

Once the merch had been acquired, Mister and I moved over to the bar for a cider. There was so much time before the show was scheduled to start and we were pretty amped. Frankly, the combination was hard to manage. I mean, unbridled excitement and patience are not BFFs. But sometimes you gotta buck up and settle down. And that’s what we did. We found our awesome seats and chilled. We watched the crowd and enjoyed everyone’s enthusiasm. The Eventim Apollo was fairly grand, too. A recent renovation has left the old gal gleaming.

 

 

As showtime approached, Mister and I noticed a group of folks being led in to stand against a nearby wall. We figured these were the fans we’d seen waiting outside, in a non-ticket-holder queue. Apparently there are a limited number of SRO (Standing Room Only) seats given out each night of the run. Those lucky few who made it inside were beaming from ear to ear, I tell you. And I doubt they ever tired of standing, either. Would you?

 

Anyhoo, after what seemed like an eternity… Wait. I guess when I think about it, I’d been waiting for this concert since I was 15. Not quite an eternity, granted, but quite a while. But I digress. So the house lights dimmed and we privileged few inside the theatre gasped in unison. It was time!

 

 

At this point, I’m going to tell you some of what I witnessed. I have no photos of the show, as Ms. Bush wanted her audience to focus solely on the stage and not on cameras or phones. (No worries on this front, however, as the show was being filmed. I’m thinking there’s a Live DVD in my future…) If you’re going to a show soon (there are a few more nights) and want to be surprised, stop reading now! Otherwise…

 

Though the stage lights hadn’t yet come up, we could see musicians taking their places and readying to play the first notes. With a bang, they did just that. The crowd roared! From house right the vocalists entered, in time with the music. And there she was! I could hardly believe it, but it was true. She moved in time with the music, taking her place at the center of the stage. The backing vocalists took their places, house left. Then Kate Bush opened her mouth and we heard that voice. It was as beautiful as ever. It was as strong as ever. It was, quite simply, as ever. “Lily” was the opening number and it was a bold – and for me, unexpected – choice. The song finished and we all jumped to our feet. After an appropriate applause break, we heard the 6 words all Kate Bush fans know and love: “It’s in the trees! It’s coming!” Yes, “Hounds of Love” was next.

 

I think that was the first time I cried during the show. I wasn’t blubbering or anything. I just felt happy tears easing down my cheeks. And I couldn’t stop smiling.

 

After another standing ovation, “Joanni” began. And though I have heard this song many times before, it was more beautiful than I remembered. Just as I was coming out of that song’s spell, “Top of The City” began. And if anyone in attendance questioned Kate Bush’s ability to hit those high notes, her performance of this song crushed all doubt. Chicken skin, I tell you! Chicken skin! I was in awe!

 

Then the drums started. Those drums, friends. “Running Up That Hill” swept over the crowd. And we loved it. “King of the Mountain” came next and it, too, was beautiful. Unbeknownst to most of us, that song signaled the end to anything resembling a traditional rock show. For next we were shown a darkened stage and a large screen. A short video followed, setting up the piece of theatre that was to be the remainder of the first half of the concert. And what a remainder it was! Basically, we were all treated to “The Ninth Wave” – side 2 of The Hounds of Love record (“And Dream of Sheep”; “Under Ice”; “Waking the Witch”; “Watching You Without Me”; “Jig of Life”; “Hello Earth”; “The Morning Fog”).

 

To say a spectacular Musical ensued would be such an understatement, friends. The sets were astounding. The songs were familiar and fabulous. I was so the smitten kitten! As were we all, y’all. The production of “The Ninth Wave” left me wanting for nothing. When the entire band and all the singers walked to the front of the stage for an acoustic version of “The Morning Fog” to close out the first half of the show, those happy tears made another appearance. At the song’s close, all the performers left the stage and a beautiful red curtain descended to hide the stage. Because I knew nothing of what the second half of the show might hold, I failed to see the significance of the feather on the curtain.

 

 

After the intermission, the second disc from Aerial – “A Sky of Honey” – was performed in its entirety. Again, another brilliant musical production was witnessed. And loved. At its close, Kate Bush took the stage alone. Sitting at the piano, she performed “Among Angels” from 50 Words For Snow. It was quiet, yet strong. And if the show had ended there, I would have left the theatre happy. But the show didn’t end there. Instead, all the performers rejoined Ms. Bush onstage and with no hesitation, they launched into “Cloudbusting.” I honestly thought the roof would fly right off the building. When the song was nearly finished, Kate Bush encouraged the audience to sing along. And did we ever! Even Mister was crooning, and that guy never joins in a sing-along. Kate Bush kept encouraging us and we kept going. Those joyful tears were flowing in full force. And I seriously doubt my eyes were the only ones expressing themselves. Finally, the song ended. Kate Bush profusely thanked her fans, then exited the stage. The house lights came up and it was over.

 

Mister and I made our way to the Underground and back to our hotel. Our excitement for the show had overshadowed the fact that we’d had only one meal all day. At the hotel, it was too late for proper food, so we snarfed bar snacks like crazed monkeys. We also talked about the concert and how we’d never seen anything like it, and likely never will again. We also realized how fortunate we were to have witnessed that show. It was amazing and we were there! I couldn’t get over it. I still haven’t.

 

To be continued…

London – Museum Day

 

 

“One more step to the top of the city, where just a couple of pigeons are livin’

up on the angel’s shoulders.”

Kate Bush

“Top of the City” from The Red Shoes

1993

 

 

We arrived early evening on a Monday and sorted out everything belonging to that. Heathrow Express from the airport into town. The Tube to the area nearest our hotel. The hotel itself and unpacking. I was hesitant to admit it, but everything up until then had been so, well, easy. There were no incidents, no problems. Airport parking at LAX was easy. Checking in and boarding the plane was easy. The all-night flight itself was easy. Heathrow Express was beyond easy. We liked our room. Easy! After a light snack, we tucked in and tried to sleep.

 

 

Mister and I had arrived in London armed with a list of things we wanted to do. Some of the items were from our own brain holes, some were suggestions culled from various friends. With those plans in mind, the first day found us on foot, looking for The London Eye. This particular to-do had never been done by either of us during previous visits. But first, food. We had seen Anthony Bourdain’s “The Layover – London” and knew what a taxi stand looked like. And by taxi stand, I mean a place for drivers to grab a bite. We spotted the green clapboard and headed over for a Bacon Butty. One each, please.

 

 

Once food was checked off the list, we continued across the Thames toward The London Eye. It was overcast and good weather for walking. Full bellies helped, too. But once we got to The Eye, we looked at each other and realized neither of us really wanted to get on the danged thang. It wasn’t cheap, but that wasn’t the deterrent. It would take quite a while to go all the way around, but that wasn’t it, either. I don’t know what to tell you. It just wasn’t our thing. Content that neither of us was depriving the other of a ride, we walked away.

 

 

Back along the Thames, Mister and I strolled and took our time. It was still pretty early, but the riverfront was coming alive. Street performers were getting their costumes readied. Mothers pushing prams began crowding the walkway. Restaurants and shops began opening their doors. We walked past the National Theatre, where a lovely statue of Laurence Olivier resides. And we also saw some street artists in the act of creating.

 

 

Just when we were starting to feel closed in by the growing crowd, we spotted The Tate Modern. I had been before but Mister’s Tate cherry was intact. We headed inside and succumbed to the amazing collection. I love The Tate Modern. There’s something about all that contemporary art being housed in one location that triggers a particular appreciation in me. It seemed to work for Mister, too. When we wound our way to the Mark Rothko room, I pulled Mister aside and said, “Look. The last time I was here, I had a religious experience. I’m going to leave you alone while you go in. See you in a bit.” And with that, he turned and entered.

 

 

Those Rothko works – The Seagram Murals – really get to me. I can’t explain it. I don’t understand it. But there’s just something about them, something that grabs my soul and doesn’t let go. The first time I saw them I cried. This time I was just quiet. No tears. The awe was still there though, and I marveled at how Rothko was able to paint such seemingly simple works – works more complicated than I can comprehend.

 

 

After a while we needed a break. So we headed up to the top of The Tate for drinks. The view was lovely and the drinks were pretty nifty, too. After all that museum-ing, it was good to sit. We talked about what we’d seen and what we wanted to do with the rest of our dwindling day. Once the drinks were downed, we made our way out and back across the Thames. Our intention was to walk through St. Paul’s Cathedral and get an eyeful of that. When we got there, however, we were too late. So we pointed ourselves toward our hotel and got to stepping. Once there, we realized we hadn’t eaten since the morning’s Bacon Butties, so we changed clothes, headed back downstairs and asked the doorman for a good local. That guy did us right, I tell you, and we walked the short distance to The Phoenix. The joint was hopping, and after a short time we understood why. Not only was it charming, it was also friendly with good food and drink. And being right around the corner was none too shabby, either.

 

 

Anyhoo, we drank and ate to our hearts’ content and then we walked back to the hotel. Though we were jet-lagging, we were wiped out from our fantastic day of being tourists. We got ready for bed and as we were falling asleep, we remembered our concert tickets. The show was the very next night…

 

To be continued…

In The Beginning…

 

 

“Out in the garden there’s half of a heaven and we’re only bluffing,

we’re not ones for busting through walls.

But they’ve told us unless we can prove that we’re doing it, we can’t have it all.”

Kate Bush

Suspended in Gaffa” from The Dreaming

1982

 

 

It is said that the best place to start is the beginning. At first, I believed that meant March of this year. But the more I thought about it, I realized I would have to reach much further into my past…

 

I was 15 years old and engaged in a bit of night swimming with my friends and my beau of the time. As the moonlight did a Monet jig across the lake’s surface, I heard it. That voice! The composition! What was this heretofore unknown sound that was glimmering across the water to change me forever?

 

Once we’d all returned to shore and were drying off at the house, I asked my young beau about the music I’d heard. Just before our swim, he had lined up several albums on the turntable, under the weight of the automatic arm and then aimed the stereo speakers at the open doors, toward the lake. Now that I had asked, he had to look through the vinyl to locate just what I was after. Once he’d found it, he handed the LP’s cover to me for inspection: Kate Bush – The Dreaming.

 

I didn’t rush out to buy it, but I did file away the memory of that mesmerizing, unique music. When I did purchase my very own copy, I coveted it. And each time a new Kate Bush record was released, I sought it out to add to my collection.

 

Around 5 years later I was working at Streetside Records in St. Louis and would regularly socialize with my awesome coworkers. One night we were at Ron’s house. He had a video of Kate Bush’s “Live at Hammersmith Odeon” from her 1979 tour. That was the only tour she’d ever done, so fans were crazy for it. I don’t know where Ron had gotten his VHS copy, but it was about the coolest thing in town. While we all watched and talked and generally had a good time, Ron told me he’d replaced all his early Kate Bush LPs with CD versions and offered his vinyl to me. Of course I accepted. From then on, Ron and I shared our love of Kate. He was a really good guy.

 

Cut to March 2014. As a member of the Kate Bush fan club (yes, that’s right), I’d received an email alerting fans to the fact that Kate Bush was going to do some shows at the old Hammersmith Odeon, now known as the Eventim Apollo. My head just about exploded! She hadn’t played live shows since the ’79 gigs. The woman just doesn’t tour. Once I stopped hyperventilating, I read the remainder of the email and saw that I could – as a fan club member – take part in a pre-sale of tickets. Well, I started thinking it through. London in September. Money. Mister’s and my anniversary. Money. Travel arrangements. Money. And just when I was about to give in to the frugal part of me, I had this thought: Kate Bush live is a bucket list item. I don’t have a bucket list, friends. It’s never occurred to me to make one. But once I’d thought of Kate Bush’s concert as a bucket list item, I knew I had to try. I talked it over with Mister and he was game. There were no guarantees we’d be able to score seats, as the gigs were sure to be hot tickets. But it was worth a shot.

 

That is how I found myself hunched over my computer in the middle of an L.A. night, back in March of this year. That is why I clicked “purchase” when I got through the process of selecting seats and entering all required information on the vendor’s website. That is how Mister and I found ourselves with tickets to a Kate Bush concert in London.

 

22 shows sold out in 15 minutes. I was part of that. Now all I had to do was wait until September…

 

To be continued…

D-Squared T-Squared – Week 38

 

 

I’m just back from a big trip and I’m lagging. So my D2T2 efforts are in need of processing. As soon as I’m awake during daylight hours, I’ll share some photo art.

 

Woo-hoo!

Go Pro

 

 

I have some not-so-good habits. (Surprise, surprise.) And I think I may be tiring of one in particular.

 

Whenever I have something on my calendar, something to look forward to, I don’t allow myself to be excited about it. If it’s a trip, for example, I tell myself that it may not happen. That there are no guarantees that plane will ever leave the ground. “Wheels Up,” I say. Not until then will it actually transpire.

 

Whenever someone acknowledges my accomplishments or talent, I quickly change the subject. I doubt their sincerity, so I divert their attention and take the focus back to them. It’s as if my mouth cannot form the words, “Thank You.”

 

Whenever I have an idea for some sort of endeavor, something I see as being a professional pursuit, I follow it only so far. I work out details and angles, and then I tell myself that dog won’t hunt. Generally, I pooh-pooh myself. “It Wasn’t That Great of an Idea,” I say.

 

The bad habit I’m tiring of is my tendency to go con, to go negative. I’ve known about it for a while (a long while), but for some reason I didn’t look at it in a way that made me think of an alternative. I’m sure that sounds crazy, and it probably is. When it comes to myself, I just seem to think of all the reasons good can’t possibly come my way. (For the record, I don’t do that with others. I’m a full-time cheerleader for friends.) So what has pushed me to the edge of tolerating my negative self?

 

The Universe. I’m just touchy-feely enough to subscribe to “Notes From The Universe.” My friend Winfield turned me on to these daily emails several-plus-several years ago. And now I look forward to reading each day’s missive almost as much as I look forward to coffee. Recently I received a note from the founder of “Notes From The Universe,” Mike Dooley. He wrote a lot of things, but what grabbed me was this bit:

 

Whenever fear, worry, or unhelpful images parade through your wandering mind, DOUBT THEM!

Don’t think you have to vanquish or overpower them, just doubt them.

In other words, instead of doubting that you might succeed doubt that you might fail.

And then notice how in your thoughts and feelings, any undesired outcomes seem to shrink in proportion to the likelihood of desirable outcomes.

 

Again, I don’t know why these words struck a chord where so many have left a dull clunk, but that’s the way it goes some times. This time anyway. And to tell the truth, I’m probably oversimplifying the trigger, as there have been several beautiful occurrences in my world of late, things that have dared me to apply the same positive attitude I lavish on others, to myself.

 

This isn’t my first go-round with this idea. I’ve even written about it here. But I’m hoping this time it will take. That I’ll allow myself to get excited about an outing, or that I’ll simply say “Thank You” when someone bestows a compliment on me. That I’ll honor my good ideas when I have them.

 

We’re looking at a new season. And while it may signify the end of the harvest season for a lot of our environmental surroundings, I’m hoping it brings me new growth. I want to shine – on the inside – just for me and my benefit. In short, I want to go pro where I’m concerned. Why not? I’m already doing it for friends. Am I not worthy of being my own friend?

 

And there it is. It’s time to be my own friend. It’s worth a shot.

Autumn

 

 

Today is the first day of Autumn. Before I look forward, I want to look back.

 

I think Mister and I really took advantage of Summer this year. We were in that pool every chance we got, and that’s saying something as we don’t have a pool heater and the water can be a wee bit chilly, y’all. We grew tomatoes and basil to the best of our abilities and ate them beyond our abilities. (The tomatoes are long-gone but the basil lives on in a ton of pesto.) We hit a couple of open-air venues for shows, and in L.A. those are some of the loveliest outings available. We spent exactly one whole day at the beach, and though that may induce eye-rolling since we live on the Pacific edge of land, it’s one day more than we spent by the sea last year. So there. We walked through our neighborhood on July 4th – along with a few hundred other neighbors – and enjoyed fireworks as part of the community. There was also plenty of drinking, eating and socializing this Summer. Of course, those things seem to happen every Summer.

 

We also had a serious A/C outing this past Summer, and I did not appreciate that one bit. But during that heat wave, I got up each morning and opened the front door wide in hopes of getting some cool morning air into the house (and hot, stagnant air out). With the front door open, I sat with my coffee and witnessed the world in its waking. Each morning was quiet and, though I was watching the whole world (or as much of it as my aging eyes could see), personal. Those mornings were still and calm. And they helped.

 

It will be hot in L.A. for a while, if only intermittently. And I may find myself taking a few more dips in that pool. But make no mistake – Autumn is here. Her light is different. Her food is different. Her social patterns – different. And I welcome her with open arms. If I’m caught looking back over my shoulder on all that was Summer, it won’t mean I don’t appreciate what lies before me.

 

Autumn. I’m ready.

But Is It Art?

 

 

I was at the doctor’s office the other day (just a check-up) and as I waited in the examination room I studied the sole painting hanging on the wall. It appeared to be a European scene, a stone home’s exterior with a mottled landscape in the background. There was a tile roof and various potted plants. It was rather typical in its style and I suppose the intent was to show the viewer a bucolic scene, to trigger a longing for that place.

 

I’ve been going to the same doctor for years, and his art hasn’t changed. So this little painting is somewhat familiar to me. And I just can’t help it, but I’ve never cared for it. I’ve not known why and honestly – I’ve tried to figure it out! I’m not overly critical of it. It’s office art. Nothing more, nothing less. I highly doubt it’s of personal value to my doctor. I’m fairly certain it’s part of some bulk purchase designed to accessorize an entire office suite. I mean, it sort of matches the other art I’ve grown used to seeing there over the years.

 

Anyhoo, as I sat waiting for the doc, I studied the painting and really tried to dissect its composition. And I think I finally figured out what irks me about the danged thang: the light source isn’t defined. In other words, there is clearly a setting sun in the distance, hidden behind the house. And the light from that sun hits certain edges of the building and the stone fence. It also casts shadows where it should. But then there is some other light source shining upon a different side of the house, casting shadows where it ought not. As the entire scene is set in daylight, the second light source makes no sense.

 

Once I figured out the lighting snafu, I understood my disdain for the painting. And while in the end it really doesn’t matter what I think – for a variety of reasons – it did make me happy to have deciphered the problem. And to know I’m being taught by someone to never make that sort of mistake.