It is 12:20 pm here on Whitecross Street, Borough of Islington, often referred to as Shoreditch in the City of London on “Black Friday” but you would never know it. Yesterday was Thanksgiving in the USA but here in the UK it was a usual Thursday work day. Some restaurants did offer a traditional American style “turkey dinner” but such things weren’t in evidence around my neighborhood in Islington. I have been lucky enough to have really remarkably good weather during my stay in London, although with another week to go, perhaps I had better hold off on my weather evaluations until I depart London a week from tomorrow. I have had several days of bright blue skies, pretty cloud formations and brisk cold air with temperatures in the mid-50s during the daytime, dropping into the upper 40s at night. The attached photos were taken last Sunday, a particularly beautiful day when I walked over 11,000 steps totaling over 5 miles! Not bad for a soon to be 79 year old.
I have been enjoying the cultural scene in London. This past week I attended the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibit at the Barbican, had lunch at The Jugged Hare, spent several hours in Foyles bookstore on Charing Cross Road (my favorite bookstore in the whole world which I first visited in 1980), took in the Cezanne Portrait exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery, attended a concert of sacred music at St. Martin in the Fields Church on Trafalgar Square and last night went to a wonderful performance of the BBC Symphony at the Barbican just a 5 minute walk from my Airbnb. Tonight is Julius Caesar at the Barbican and tomorrow JC #2 because while I am so close to the theater and as live performances of Shakespeare are so infrequent in the USA, I thought I would take maximum opportunity to experience the fantastic performances by the Royal Shakespeare Company while I am here.
I really enjoy my visits to London starting way back in 1980. Last night at the BBC Symphony concert I sat next to a lovely lady and her husband. The lady had been a principle dancer for the Royal Ballet and had danced all over the world. I told her about my grand daughter Sydney and her love of dance and Hazel sitting next to me told me about her training and experiences as a professional ballet dancer. Her husband was a great fan of football (or as we call it soccer in the US) and we talked about the rising interest of soccer in the US and his favorite team Arsenal. She was very knowledgeable about classical music and so we talked a lot about that subject. The concert, conducted by Thomas Sondergard included Concerto in 17 pieces by the modern composer Poul Ruders, Concerto for piano, trumpet and strings by Shostakovich and Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss. I suspect that most of you are not familiar with these pieces and I had never heard the first two but I suggest you listen to the opening bars of “Zarathustra” on iTunes or something similar and I bet you will recognize them! They were used as the opening music for 2001 A Space Odyssey, the famous movie by Stanley Kubrick! There is actually an interesting story about how Kubrick came to use Strauss’ music instead of the score written by Alex North who was unaware that his opening music, composed specifically for the film, was supplanted by Strauss at the last minute by Kubrick himself, without letting North know about it. All that said, the entire concert was fantastic. I hope that you enjoy the attached photos. Incidentally, more photos are on my website at Aroundtheglobephotography.com.