Spend yesterday avoiding wretched weather and accumulated emails about Church Telecoms Mast with completely delightful day of Culture and friends in London.
Go first to new John Ruskin exhibition with regular group of favourite ex-colleagues. Own prior knowledge of John Ruskin rather more limited than it should be, but am quickly impressed by his beautiful drawings and his extremely Strong Views on everything from lawyers to railway stations (very much against both). Balance one hour of exhibition-viewing with three hours in the coffee shop; discuss personality disorders, camper vans, Marie Kondo and more or less everything else. All feel much better.
Head to V & A to meet American friend and husband who have decided to celebrate wedding anniversary in London. Friend arrives looking exactly the same as when we first met more than 35 years ago, though wetter. Leave husband to wander around the Cast Galleries and medieval silver, and immerse ourselves in absolutely spectacular Dior exhibition . Feel slightly underdressed in utilitarian raincoat and comfortable shoes. Retrieve husband and head to charming restaurant in Notting Hill for dinner; discuss children, parents, monkfish, the polarisation of politics, and whether academics or business people have happier lives.
Reflect on journey home home that life of ex-lawyer with older children, access to London, and a fine collection of friends, must be the happiest of all.
To London on Friday to meet a) internationally acclaimed fashion designer at opening of her new exhibition b) daughter in search of dress for end-of-term ball. Sons insist that I Actually Blow-Dry My Fringe For Once in honour of occasion; feel that unaccustomed effort was entirely worthwhile when two separate people at museum ask whether I too am fashion designer. (Feel grateful that they do not see me afterwards, puffing in increasingly crumpled fashion around hot streets of central London, or battling to eat healthy takeaway oriental salad box with chopsticks on park bench.) Dress-buying mission unexpectedly straightfoward, and have time for good discussion with daughter about Manchester, Cicero and Romania before we head home in separate directions; am surprised at how normal this seems.
Son playing cricket for village Second XI on Saturday; team quickly dismissed by superior opposition, and whole match over by time tea is normally served, but nobody seems unduly worried, and have pleasant time chatting to former village postmistress about beards, childbirth, and changes in village since 1953.
Weather continues to be warm and sunny so head for sandy beach yesterday; husband swims, I paddle, everyone eats chips and generally Makes The Most Of It just in case. Read delightful “Miss Buncle’s Book”, and see that sunshine is forecast all week.
To London yesterday for periodic rendezvous with former colleagues. Bump into lady from village who is off to meet family in local town; family now includes, she thinks, about 22 great-grandchildren, with two more due in February, along with a great-great-grandchild. Feel, unusually, rather lost for words.
Am as always delighted to be in London, despite wet and windy November weather and noticeably increased Police Presence at station; am somehow reassured by sight of one elderly lady’s determined efforts to get views of particularly burly officer on best Underground route to her destination. Meet friends near site of office building where we first worked together some twenty years ago; try not to see recent demolition of building as in any way metaphorical.
Head to Sir John Soane’s Museum which none of us ever quite managed to visit in many years of working almost next door. Find it interesting but strangely depressing, and am not sure that even promise of catacombs’refurbishment in 2016 will tempt us back; are all relieved to settle down for an afternoon’s talking about everything in nearby café, and while, sadly, we cannot actually Put The World To Rights, feel, as usual, much better afterwards.
Pensioners’ lunch club on Wednesday particularly busy, and after usual struggle to serve teas and coffees in required combinations am quite relieved to find myself on train to London to attend first-ever Literary Party. Arrive at destination far too early, and am reluctant to tramp round streets of Bloomsbury in unaccustomed Heels, so end up sitting at nearby bus stop and watching busy Londoners; wonder whether should perhaps be using time profitably to make Astute Observations in manner of Virginia Woolf but concentrate instead on being unnecessarily anxious about meeting New People.
New People turn out to be charming, friendly and welcoming; everyone seems to be distinguished journalist, author or academic (many are all three), but am soon put at ease and discuss trains, funerals and husbands as though with perfectly normal crowd. Publisher makes warm and gracious speech; prize-winning essayist, who looks about same age as own daughter, reads poetic extracts from essay on Katherine Mansfield; there are photos, flowers and kind words aplenty , and I would happily have stayed longer if not for a) worry about return train and b) increasingly acute pain from shoes.
Weather here still disconcertingly lovely, and plan to spend afternoon in garden once have finished admin, ironing and proof-reading Horticultural Association Schedule. May allow myself some slight literary day-dreaming.
While sons spend yesterday happily honing vital life skill of Doing Nothing, daughter and I set off on train for dose of London; have good time looking at people and shops, and even manage Culture in form of Saatchi Gallery and French film. Atmosphere in cinema one of studious reverence, even before film begins, and within first few minutes man in front of us asks his gently murmuring neighbour If He Will Please Be Quiet; suspect he would not have enjoyed Paddington at local cinema last week.
Have been asked to write Intercessions for today’s Family Service and as usual leave it until last minute to search for The Right Words (which seem more than usually important this week); relieved as always once it’s all done, and have good chat with vicar and retired church warden about sleep, village housing trust, and teenage boys’ hairstyles.
Rest of day spent cooking,ironing and commiserating with younger son about all the Foulers on opposing football team; home life now seems completely Back to Normal.
After rather raucous Girls’ Curry And Bingo Night at cricket pavilion on Friday, set off to London yesterday for rendezvous with friends from long-lost world of work.
Make quick detour to Virginia Woolf exhibition at National Portrait Gallery. Find it interesting and moving (exchange sorrowful glances with complete stranger as read final letters), and resolve to extend own knowledge of Bloomsbury beyond current rather shallow fondness for artistic book-filled interiors.
Meet friends in Green Park and sit in warm September sunshine, talking as usual about more or less everything – though perhaps with more emphasis on care homes, will-writing and the importance of comfortable shoes than when first met nearly twenty years ago. Have booked Afternoon Tea at The Wolseley as special treat and spend very civilised couple of hours among the Finger Sandwiches and Pastries.
Darkness has fallen by time we eventually emerge, and London buzzing with Saturday night crowds as make way back to station. Train carriage home filled with boys and mothers loudly discussing football; feel that Normal Life has resumed.
Miserable weather forecast proves sadly accurate as set off to deliver Escorted Day Out In London offered at recent Auction of Promises in village. Winning bidder has fond memories of London in 1962 but cannot remember visiting since; says she has no wish to go anywhere in particular and is happy to Put Herself In My Hands.
Decide to start with National Gallery; every other tourist in London appears to have had same idea, and make slow progress through slightly random selection of rooms, behind large group from Truro High Prep School Choir. Complete tourism duties with vague wave in general direction of Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and The Mall, then after lunch in Chinatown have happy time wandering along Piccadilly and Old Bond Street (rain gradually easing to light drizzle) – ending up, as somehow always seem to do, in Liberty.
Seeing Rupert Penry-Jones in Regent Street makes our day complete.