The adverts - as they say! - on the walls are interesting; it's almost a new medium. Once they were static images, but now they're video screens, and the canny advertisers sync them to your passage, so the messages change. The unimaginative ones just have the same image. If someone really wants to take advantage of the captive audience, they'll use them for narrative purposes, tell a little tale. Hard to sync for everyone, and you'd have to be careful so the story wasn't so engrossing dozens of people face-planted at the bottom every hour.
First night in London, we walked. Found a pub, had a half pint, then kept walking. The route the phone gave me took us to a street that was blocked off for a movie. Which one? “Last Night in Soho.” Googling . . . oh heck, it’s an Edgar Wright movie! Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, etc. Is he here? He was.
He's right there! See him?
No, you can't. He's hiddden by the boom on the right.
Later I spied a crew guy wearing a Green Bay Packers sweatshirt, and called out - you from Wisconsin? Illinois, but a Packer fan. Sorry, I’m from Minnesota, now we have to fight. Daughter asked if he’d spoken to Edgar Wright, and he admitted that yes he had, inasmuch as he’d been his PA for five years.
So we now have a tight close personal bond to this movie.
It's dressed for 1971.
The site in daylight (Google Street view, last year)
Back to the hotel. No pub in the area, so we had to go across the street to the RadBlu’s sister property, which has a proper bar / restaurant called Scoff and Banter. Swing left and you'll be at our hotel. It's such a long walk!
We get 25% off because of the inconvenience of having to walk across the street. Apparently people complained. Well yay for us.
BTW, the hotel is my third Radisson Blu in these parts, and the least of the bunch, but I realize the gold standard is the first one. They all have their charms. I mean, it’s an old hotel in an old city. You have to adjust your expectations. Sure enough, there’s charm to be had: what a view!
From the second floor!
I don't mind: The very life of London itself coursing right below us, and we hover, like very minor gods who don’t have enough standing to look down from the usual Olympian distances. We’re intern gods. No salary, but good experience.
Room / crash / dead to the world at midnight.
UP in the morning, sunlight enow outside to make me think I’d gotten a solid seven. Couldn’t get back to sleep. Checked the time . . . ah, dammit. 5:49. Tried to get back to slumber, but no; not going to happen. Sat up. Daughter in rollaway speaks: “I’ve been up since 3:40.” Well then. The day begins. We went to the complimentary breakfast downstairs, which was spare - either there are eggs or there aren’t, and if there aren’t, it’s a disappointment. We were the only ones there, and felt as if we let down the staff, but they were used to it: everyone goes across the street, we know, we know. Back to Scoff and Banter, which had a proper English breakfast for 20 pounds - well, it is a vacation. We ate and, as it turned out, scoffed and bantered.
Time for writing? Why yes. Took our laptops to Nero at Seven Dials.
. . . and just now I finished a chat with a lovely couple from the DC area. The Wife Portion of the couple was in marketing, and she knew a few Mpls locations because the firm for which she worked had just recently bought a Minneapolis marketing company.
Me: (condensed for clarity) I knew a fellow who ran a marketing / advertising company, quite successful; he died a few years ago, and I wonder if his widow sold it.
Her: I can’t remember the name! That’s awful. Let me look. (picks up phone, types.) Olson, that’s it.
Me: That’s it!
So in a cafe in Seven Dials in London you ran into someone who was on the boat bounding around a Minnesota lake with the guy who founded the company you bought, and was at his funeral.
Back to the hotel, where I am typing in the lobby while daughter naps. When I wake her, it’s time for the National Gallery.
In the morning we went to the National Portrait Gallery, having completely forgotten about the Tate. No problem - that leaves the Tate for another trip, and there were more stories to be had at the National Portrait Gallery.
It's a new favorite. So many vivid faces. And they're painted in the most flattering way possible, which makes you wonder about their actual appearance:
CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS NONSENSE
The Earl of Stratford, who had a "reputation for efficient but ruthless efficiency." Hence the gesture, perhaps: you see what I have to put up with. Executed for treason, although King Charles regretted it.
A lot of the people in this gallery were executed for treason.
It's my man Peeps:
Executed for treason.
I love this guy. The expression's perfect.
You actually believe the things you're saying, don't you.
Eramus Darwin. "A physician and member of the Lunar Society, Darwin wrote The Botanic Garden (1791), a best-selling popular scientific work in rhyming couplets. Sociable, eccentric and inventive, his original ideas on evolution, propounded in his poem, 'Zoonomia', were superseded by those of his grandson, Charles Darwin."
Zoonomia sounds interesting.