Monday, 9 November 2009

Common ground

mainly sunny, cooler, temps 6

Chilly day, but very nice for walking. had breakfast at home - fruit and a piece of toast...and coffee of course. Then answered some emails. Very odd being here...feels like we've been flung five hours ahead of the 'rest' of the world. So used to being on Eastern Time - not UK time. Most of the people - friends, family, work - are in Canada or US. So they don't start stirring until after lunch here in London. But we get emails well into the night. So i wake up to quite a few.

After breakfast and emails we wandered down to sister Carol's place just off Sloane Square. Her husband is David Lloyd-Jones, an opera conductor. he helped establish Opera North and does a lot of recordings now. And writing. I remember the first time I met him, 15 years ago now. I'd heard so much about him, and of course I'm a complete opera dolt. Been to a few when i lived in Winnipeg and a lovely friend there - janet ringer - decided it was time this heathen was educated. So she took me to the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Symphony and the Opera. And it was thrilling. There were times I sat in my seat next to janet and felt my heart leave my chest and soar around the concert hall. sometimes it was on unexpectedly hearing music I knew...sometimes, like with Saint Saens organ concerto or Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, it was hearing stunning music for the very first time and falling in love. Janet has a great deal of tolerance. She hated smoking and I was a smoker at the time...and not just a smoker, but I smoked between courses. We'd go out for dinners before the concerts and she's have to suffer through me puffing away. I cringe now when I think how selfish that was. And how kind she was to tolerate it...and to introduce me to such amazing music. And performances. Some of the ballet left me speechless. Some - it must be said - left me snoozing. Indeed, I never did 'get' opera...though another wonderful friend in Winnipeg - Pat - adores it.

So when it came time to meet the famous David Lloyd-Jones I was quaking. I'd also heard he was quite formidable. And sure enough, we got off the train and he was there to meet us. Over six foot tall, athletic build, and a full head of dramatic white hair.

He was far too gracious to ever treat me like a moron...and I am not a moron, but it seemed everything he is passionate and knowledgeable about I know nothing about. Most of the names he said meant absolutely nothing to me. and so for ten years I smiled and nodded and buried my face in the canape tray. He must have thought, on top of being slightly idiotic, that I had an eating disorder. or at least a fascination with things on crackers.

And then, one visit, we were staying with them in their country home and loe and behold - David loves roses. And I love roses. And grow them at home. And suddenly he and I are burning bracken and comparing notes on old garden roses, on hardiness, on blights. And now we hardly ever speak about roses, but I suddenly see him as human and he sees me as human too.

Common ground. What a blessing to find.

So off we went to visit them and see how Carol is doing after her operation. She looks and moved a lot better than when I saw her last week. that's a relief...though she still has a bit of a way to go. The good news is, she can feel the improvements everyday.

Then home in time to meet Erika for lunch. She took us down Walton street to a new restaurant...small, crowded, vibrant. Very alive. And terrific food. Then she took us on a whirlwind spin around the neighborhood, showing us the best, hidden, restaurants. and some not hidden at all. Part of the problem in London - like paris or New York or any great city, is an embarrassment of riches. How to choose? And how do we know which ones are really good and which are just not worth the considerable amount of money for a meal? Happily, Erika has very definite opinions and we're happy to believe her. So now we have scouted out two Oyster bars and a sushi place. Yum.

tomorrow I'm hoping for a quiet day to write and edit. Dinner Wednesday night with Mike and Dom. Mike works at the Guardian and they are announcing quite large layoffs Wednesday...tense time. If you're among those cut you feel sick and frightened...if you survive you're relieved, but feel guilty. Still - better to survive. Mike is a fabulous journalist and a natural leader - I'd hope that would be enough to keep him on...but who knows how these things are decided?

So there you have it...another day in London-town. Cor.


lil Gluckstern said...

Your post is interesting today. To me , it juxtaposes so many of the great pleasures of life and the reality of the sober times we live in. As for your flat, maybe we will just have buy more books, and you will have to write more. That would be great anyway. I am also reminded that London, like much of Europe has an older history, and that when you are there, you are walking over centuries of history. We are, after all, relatively young countries, at least as far as Western civilization is concerned.
As far as opera is concerned, I was raised with it, and I think it requires that we suspend reality, and just give ourselves to the admittedly melodramatic actions and how the music presents the story, and hopefully the the music will be transport us. (I have snoozed through some also). Enjoy your London exploration, and the good food, and good friends.

jack said...

Hi Louise and Michael, Have just recently discovered the 'blog' but must say, we;re hooked! If we can't be in London ourselves them who better to live it through than you two. Have you ever visited the Sir John Soane Museum. One of my favourite treats when we're in London so if you have the time, highly recommended. As for Guy Fawkes, my sister, whose birthday is on November 5th, lived in England for a number of years. When she'd just moved there from Canada and had never heard of Guy Fawkes she just thought how nice the Brits were to have all these fireworks on her birthday! Anyway, Enjoy the rest of your trip. Cheers, Jane and Jack

Bev Stephans said...

Dear Louise,

Like Lil, I was raised with Opera. I think it makes a difference. Admittedly, I have snoozed through a few also, but most transport me to some other place.

I'm glad to hear Michael's sister is making progress. Please give him and Carol my good wishes.

Isn't it great having someone tell you about the good places to eat? It would be terrific to have someone like that in each city you visit.


Louise Penny Author said...

Hi lil,

I think you are completely right. So many of the things I was raised with I adore but might seem strange to others. Foods. Vacation choices. I suppose even the fact i love winter and snow and cold. for me it seems natural. Where others struggle with it - as I do with opera.

thanks for the advice. I suspect the same is true in personal relationships...not worry too much about the details, just let everything wash over. And enjoy.

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Jack and Jane,

No, we've never been to the Soane museum...thanks - will check it out. And such a riot to know that two of our very favorite people are reading the blog. Indded, I think I mentioned you in an earlier the furniture you've made for us...and delivered?? No problems getting in? I actually emailed you and got a return that my message was undeliverable, though I think I used the new address.

Probably not the place to go into all this detail. But we know how much you both LOVE we're glad you're along for the ride. Trying to get into the Wolseley again for breakfast Thursday - but they're jam-packed. Will drop in anyway, just in case.

See you both when we get back!!!

Louise Penny Author said...

Hi Bev,

So glad to hear you love and appreciate opera. Perhaps next time we're with David we can just say you are me - and see if he notices. I'm kidding - i'm sure he would...

And I agree - we should all carry two things with us...a five year old, to deal with all our technical emergencies, and a restaurant expert.