17 June 2018

A Day In The Life....

I read the news today.....






It's fifty odd years since John Lennon read the news, today, and worked out how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.  

Having read today's news, I sit in the courtyard of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea under the golden statue of Charles II, while planes pass by his highness,






Waiting for Imelda May, and for Jeff Beck....  Just a day in my life, like, or unlike, any other, as you will.






Woke up.  Fell out of bed.... Found my way downstairs....It started with disruption, as any train journey does these days.  When I bought my ticket, the 9.49 was on time.  When I reached platform 1 it was 'delayed.'  I noticed I was late..... It then went to second place as the 9.53 moved into pole position.  Then the 9.53 was 'cancelled.'  Then the announcer said it wasn't cancelled.  Then it approached.  Then it drove straight past the crowded platform, someone standing in the driver's compartment with an arm across the driver's shoulder.....  He didn't notice that the lights had changed.....





Well, I just had to laugh.....  Eventually the 'delayed' 9.49 arrived.  Although it was originally scheduled to get to St Pancras International for 9.26, it was now going to stop at all stations, though the announcer still promised we would be in London for 9.30.  We weren't....  [Yeah, OK, I should be grateful..... But.....]

A crowd of people stood and stared....






But from then on the day just got better....  I made it to the Photographers Gallery to see two new exhibitions: Tisha Murtha's black and white documents of British social history, where skinny young people dive into images from desolate backgrounds; and Alex Prager's Silver Lake Drive, technicolour stagings of American life, where everyone is detached, uneasy, pre-occupied, perhaps overweight.....






Then, after a cool relaxing spot of lunch at The Drones with a chum, I potter off through Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens to visit my aged Aunt in Putney, pausing to admire the finishing touches to Mr and Mrs Christo's Mastaba (a flat topped pyramid; a house of eternity) floating in the Serpentine....  It is an impressive slice of colourful oil-drum fantasy burial ground in the middle of London: a monument to the fragility of our economy perhaps?  A caricature of the echelons of our governmental structure? 








Then to see Frida Escobedo's Serpentine Pavilion; dark, rough tiles,  and smooth reflecting surfaces; it delights with quiet and irregular space.....  But I just had to look.....  






There is no regional architecture, she says. There is an architecture that absorbs the context and is informed by where it is from and where it is going to.   I stumble to grasp what she intends, but instinctively lean towards her.  It is a fine contrast with Christo's multicoloured barrels....







Frida looks a little wan, but she is charming, and for some inexplicable reason insists on taking a selfie with me chuckling like a loon....  She must be exhausted, poor lamb.  Perhaps she thought I was Christo?








Anyway, a cup of tea and a drop scone with dear Auntie and her troubles, and then, carrying a sisterly message for my poorly ancient mum, it is time to wander back to Chelsea, for my tryst with the stars.  

I beg costly refreshment in the vicinity of the Saatchi Gallery, then present myself to the bag-handlers at the Royal Hospital.  No food?  she queries.  I wish, I joke, trying to be friendly.  Did she want a sandwich?  Somebody spoke and I went into a dream.....








I have come to see and hear Jeff Beck, a god of sorts.  A crowd of people stood and stared.....  It is hard to think of any living instrumentalist with such a million-hour command of technique.  We are in the realm of the lucky men who made the grade: Art Tatum, Pablo Casals, Stephen Hawking, George Eliot..... (insert names of gods at will.  Ed.)

I catch a glimpse of a tattooed arm, snapping at ankles, guarded by the militia.....  Could this be Jeff?







I am disappointed.  'Tis but a a Dorset Lad, posing.....



 



But then, as the beers become more expensive, Imelda May graces the stage, all tonsils and emotional grit.  I have no idea when I last went to a show like this.....  Kiri Te Kanawa at Hampton Court (supported by Andrea Bocelli, with champagne and smoked salmon in the dressing room after)? or was it Bob Dylan and Santana in the Palasport in Rome?  

[I did see the Lowlamps at the Carpenters Arms, recently.... and they are really good....]

But, with no disrespect, this is something else.  A Chelsea Pensioner, probably not much older than Jeff, stands centre stage and draws the crowd.  One of us, he says,  went to see a physiotherapist in the gym the other day, asking for some help loosening up a bit.  'Well, are you flexible?' she asks.  'I can do Tuesdays or Thursdays,' he says.

Boom, Boom!

The audience, in general marginally younger than the Queen (or Jimmy Page), applauds, politely, and Jeff Beck appears.  He plays.  A crowd of people stood and stared.  He plays, with support from bass, drums, 'cello and vocals, and all is right with the world....  He plays a white guitar with a left-handed neck.  He plays with his thumbs and fingers.  The range of tones and harmonics is aaaaaastonishing.....

For me, perhaps, though it was a close call with Little Wing (a wonderful tribute to Jimi Hendrix, who Jeff saw perform this piece), the highlight is an extraordinary version of A Day In The Life....  Fifty years or so since John Lennon read the news.  And today here we are, though the news [is] rather sad....

Well, I just had to laugh.....







*      *      *      *


And then, the day after, James, and me, and Roy, with his family, gather to celebrate the life of Moyra (Moyra Daphne Dodds):

Another day.  Another life....






And so it goes.....

I'd love to turn you on.....


Love you all.....




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