16 April 2005

Catchup II

Eliot: "...breeding lilacs out of the dead land..."
Paxman: "It's April, whaddyou expect?"

More hijacks. More scans. More reboots than you could shake a stick at. Here's what else...

There's probably some alignment of planets or something rising somewhere, how else to explain my chancing upon first Tiffany, then Michael Gove? Actually it's less astrological, more sociological - sit in the British Library long enough and most of the tribe will pass through eventually. On Thursday I was having a coffee at about 7, doodling around with the play, when a function began upstairs for the launch of a book about Israel. Lovely klezmer music filled the air, lifting the spirits of the workers but also causing mobile users to raise their voices. Soon enough it stopped, and a voice came through the p.a. - it was MG, longtime writer for The Times, media pundit and now candidate for the safe Tory seat of Surrey Heath. Michael was my neighbour in our first year at college, and a housemate in our second. We were good pals before paths diverged, not so say went in totally opposite directions. But in order to say hello to the old Aberdonian madman, I had to negotiate the really rather scary security - sharp-dressed Israeli men with ear-pieces and steely demeanours, no doubt on loan from the embassy, and no doubt packing pieces. So I was polite as hell, but gently persistent, and eventually persuaded one of them to give my name to M, who came bounding over, and we had a nice brief warm catchup. He was demure about his chances in the election, but I told him I'd be over to cadge a lunch at the Commons at the earliest possible opportunity.

Friday was A Spike Day, and we piled into Georgina's car with little Arthur and tootled off to Highgate Hill - had an inadvertently expensive lunch at Lauderdale House where we irritated the hell out of some childless ladies (we didn't mean to). I love that place - Spike was born in the Whittington just down the hill, so it was our default place to go after scans and such. Also Svieta and Paul had their terrific wedding party there - much football in the garden, dancing, and Michael Nyman played piano (yes, he did play that one from The Piano). Then later, the same Paul got me in to see Vanishing Points at the German Gymnasium, right next to St.Pancras station. Paul's a film-maker and he records Complicite's shows for them. I can't pretend I know Complicite's work very well, or John Berger's, but I could see why they were drawn to each other - Berger has the air of a magus, a teacher, and the show seemed to be Simon McBurney's response to him as much as to the material. At the beginning I thought I heard Paul Scofield's voice on the soundtrack, talking in his lugubrious measure about London's railways - this excited memories of the film London, and so probably led me to expect too much of the evening.
In the queue beforehand I got talking to a lady who turned out to be Penny Cliff, writer in residence with Cardboard Citizens. CC are doing a show in the Berger season based on his novel King. Looking forward to it.

Saturday, I did the bar for the matinee of Over Gardens Out at Southwark. Rebecca Nesvet was in town so I invited her along, and she really liked the play. I watched again and was relieved to be delighted all over again. My reactions to Vanishing Points the previous evening had made me fear I was getting jaded, and all this playgoing would have to stop. But the performances (Dido Miles and Ryan Sampson in their Oedipal tryst), and Andrew Steggall's swaggering direction were a shot in the arm. Went for a coffee with Rebecca at Tate Modern after, and gassed about plays we've written, seen, would like to write and would like to see. She's amazingly well-read, and the three plays she's got me dying to read are ancient -
Gallathea by Lyly (a favourite of QE1), Love's Mistris by Heywood (apparently out of print since the 1870s) and her own favourite, which she's directed, The Cenci by Shelley.

And today? Lounging with S and B in the Clissold Park cafe, a two hour sleep in the afternoon, the FA Cup semi-final on video, and started reading Paul Auster's Oracle Night. Bliss. In fact, were it not for the computer nightmares, a perfect day.

The snaps above, by the way, are of a young heron hunting fish in the communal pond. His parents should've told him about the netting, surely.


Dorothy said...

Hi. Landing here through "My london life"... Do you write a lot at the library.
We, in seattle, have an amazing new public library : http://delver.org/dave/photos/spl/spl/8.jpg

sbs said...

You lucky people. The roof reminds us londoners of the british museum's millenium makeover:

i don't write a lot at the library. it comes out in dribs and drabs. only deadlines make me write a lot.

here's a story from the Guardian about the BL:


sbs said...

sorry, that should be "millennium".
robbie williams is a better speller than what i am.