Monday, 22 April 2013

The rich tapestry of life

There are moments when you just feel that being in London is the best place in the world. And it doesn't have to be all perfect - it's the richness of the experiences that add colour and edge to life.

Friday evening was a delight. Jonathan and I went to an evening at the V and A entitled, "David Bowie changed my life," a conversation between Robert Elms, Gary Kemp and David Baddiel guided by the gentle questioning of Krissi Murison, ex-Editor of the NME and now at the Sunday Times. The four of them sat in front of a huge projection of Bowie in his mesmerising 1973 Rites of Spring costume by Kansai Yamamoto; sometimes the red background of the image catching the heads of the speakers, casting shadows like tiny nibbles out of the bottom edge of the photograph. Elms and Kemp were on familiar ground, rolling out well-honed anecdotes entertainingly, and with a memory for who was where when perhaps embroidered over time - but who am I to contradict? Baddiel was less of an obvious fan-boy, a tad younger, so with a slightly different perspective but also a genuinely funny person. He added a sharpness of wit and also reminded the panel, after a long rift on clothes and haircuts, that what really makes Bowie stand out is the quality of the music over a long period of time. Too right. Baddiel felt he also shared a slight feeling of alienation with Bowie, or perhaps Ziggy. Elms's quip of, "But your eyes are identical" received the cutting reply from Baddiel, "Yes, but you should see my balls!"

Despite being a "friend" of the V and A for years,  I had never enjoyed the delights of a 'Friday Late'. After the talk we strolled down the Ceramic Stairs and had supper of salmon fishcakes in the wonderfully over-decorated cafĂ© accompanied by a charming pianist (unfortunately not playing Bowie's back catalogue). Then strolling through the garden we could have been in Venice looking at a Doge's palace - what a gem.

Meanwhile our youngest was across the road at the Natural History Museum enjoying the delights of 'Dinosnores'. She was lucky enough to have been invited with a group of her best friends to a birthday party staying overnight under a diplodocus - how cool is that? They had a great time, decorating t-shirts, learning about deep-sea monsters and even fitted in a session on mini-beasts after breakfast on Saturday morning.

Then, in a head swivelling change of culture, on Saturday evening we went to see Dexy's at the Duke of York's in St Martins Lane. Having seen them on Jools Holland's Later I was impressed with Rowland's new image and loved the almost operatic nature of the performance. I booked tickets on a whim when I saw the ad in the Metro. As we sat in the stalls awaiting the start we began to feel a slight murmuring of, shall I say, discomfiture? Our last visit to the Duke of York's had been to see Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall in the exquisite Constellations - we pondered on a Venn diagram of 'people who were at Constellations' and 'people at this Dexy's gig' and cogitated on the fact that we might be the lone couple in that intersection. It hadn't occurred to me that there were Dexy's fans (sorry Dexy's, sorry fans) and that most of those fans would be men in their forties (?) who were not unfamiliar with a Carlsberg, and whose bladders had forgotten how to last a set. Unfortunate details perhaps.

Anyway Kevin Rowland's voice is extraordinary and marvellous, and sometimes beautiful. The first half of the concert with the new material was exciting and gripping, full of energy and I loved Madeleine Hyland's brilliant performance, Big Jim's (as we soon learned to call him from our enthusiastic neighbours) trombone and the repartee of 'our Pete'. We were also very keen on their sartorial style. We were lost a bit in the second half when they played more Dexy's standards as we were unable to sing along with every word (thanks again seats O5, 6, 7,8 and 9 and a few in row P), and although they did a reasonable rendition of 'Geno' there was no 'Wilson' or 'Eileen'.

A more appropriate supper back home of a shared bag of chips bought on the Goldhawk Road and a fried egg - with tomato ketchup, and there was still Sunday to look forward to...
Toffee enjoys the sunshine in Ravenscourt Park on Sunday