An irregular, irreverent, post-modern account of the surreal, the ordinary, and the bizarre happenings on and around the Felia lavender farm in Crete

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's Tuesday so it must be the Tates

A cold bright Tuesday roused me gently from a night of fitful sleep - a sneaking wakener pushing its penetrating sheet of light under and round the edges of the blinds. Almost Austrian this light, Alpine maybe, Tyrolean even, how apt - not the quality of light I associate with London.

I checked the watch beside me - it was seven fifteen - and settled back into the lush warmth of the swansdown pillows. A two stop day this one - or three if you count the exhibitions separately - and a long anticipated day. The day with Lindz and the evening with Anna and Alex. Culture in the day and decadence in the evening - a superbly well balanced day in prospect but first things first - a shit, a shave, and a shower were all needed - and an early exit. Scratching I headed to the shower room.

As we stepped out into the morning that had, until now, hidden behind the windows the cutting cold sliced into us. It was dry but it was bracing. Bracing or bloody cold depending on how well wrapped one was. For us it was bracing - uncommonly so to a couple accustomed to Cretan winters. We picked up the pace as we headed toward the tube and its promise of insulation. Cold, bright and dry it was but loury clouds had begun to gather in the east - they would lower until dusk had long fallen but their gathering would haunt the day.

We shrugged our way through throngs of men and women of all ages and races all waiting for buses - some of them clutching young children to them - half term - as we hurried up to the tube station and forced ourselves into its maw through the Oyster card gateways. Vertiginous escalators eased us into the artificial atmosphere down there by the platforms where trains rushed in and out beyond us - not waiting our arrival - pushing gusts of warm, moist, dirty, air past us and up into the booking hall.

Arm in arm, we were coming to the fag end of the big commute, we stumbled from the moving stairway - a lack of practice, I guess, could explain the stumble. Heads up despite the dust storms we searched out the familiar and world famous London Underground signage and turned right to the southbound platform - Waterloo and the meeting clock were where we would meet up with Lindz. Amber digital signs announced our train due in one minute and sure enough a gust of filthy fetid air preceded, preannounced its arrival and presaged black bogies yet to come.

We arrived at Waterloo and burrowed our way up to ground level - the tube always makes me think of purblind moles, grey, furry, and covered in dirt - via tunnels and escalators to emerge almost opposite the renowned clock - ten minutes before ten. There was no sign of Lindz though and so I left Gill and went outside for a smoke - her habit is less demanding than my own. Big signs forbad me from the direct pavement and forced me across a road busy with taxis to a knot of like minded deviants hard by a collection of skips and builders' rubbish to huddle against the cold. Some caught short late reveller has last night left his dinner and his urine in the lea of a red lead painted skip. What a way to treat people! Odd how rigorous puritanism produces such gross results. Sated temporarily I picked my careful way through a steady stream of taxi bound latecomers and passed, on the way, a grisly, mean little sign that offered me the bargain of a lifetime - only 20 pence to take a piss! No wonder now at the reveller's relief post.

Gill and Lindz had done their helloes by the time I joined them and after hugs and kisses we headed off a trois leaving the lost and expectant masses neath the clock to their personal rendezvous. Passing the 20 pence pissoirs I realised that were heading out toward Tate Modern and stopped us all. What's first up Lindz? The Bacon. But isn't that at Tate Britain? Is it? Surely not? Lindz punched up some numbers on her mobile and confirmed my guess so we all turned 180 degrees and burrowed back down into the underworld.We were now headed for Pimlico and the Francis Bacon retrospective.

We emerged into brilliant sunshine and an eastern sky more loury than ever. Above the strangely familiar skyline over the Thames a black bank of cloud hung heavy - a sky like this I had not seen since we stood, Gill and I, on the Charles Bridge in Prague squinting up at baroque gilded statues offset against a midnight blue sky.


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