I didn't think that I would get mt annual day out in London with Brenda this year. There were all sorts of reasons. Boris* had been telling everyone to stay away from London during the Olympics because it would be incredibly overcrowded. I was in the country for only a few weeks in between teaching in China. I had lots of places to go and things that I had to do. I wasn't working at Harrow School this year so I wouldn't be in the area.
But we managed it - we had our annual day out very much as we have done for years now and we followed the usual routine of coffee in the morning, gallery in the afternoon, dinner and theatre in the evening. It all went splendidly. Contrary to Boris's dire predictions (maybe even thanks to them) London was rather less busy than previous years. We had no problems at all getting about the city. It was all smooth and easy.
For the gallery visit we chose the ever-interesting Saatchi which in recent years has taken over from the Hayward as our favourite. It never fails to please and, though I tend to comment on the pretentious nature of the comments in the official guide, I always like the art.
This year it has an exhibition by contemporary Korean artists and was as fascinating as always. Bae Joonsung's detailed paintings shimmer and reform into different paintings as you walk around them thanks to his interesting lenticular panel technique. Fully clothed figures become nudes and then vanish altogether depending on the viewing angle.
Dong Yoon Kim's bleak urban landscapes have a similar disorienting effect on the eye - an effect that runs through much of the work in the gallery - whether it is Lee Gilwoo's large paintings of famous people through which more traditional Asian scenes appear as you gaze at them, Lee Kwang-Ho's massively oversize and incredibly detailed cactus paintings or Ahn Chul-Hyun's cunning "Infinite Garden" in which mirrors cleverly reflect trees into an infinite corridor but without showing the observer, All together more than thirty artists are represented and every one of them would be interesting enough alone to warrant a complete exhibition.
For the evening we had a harder time finding something we wanted to see. Most of the productions that sounded interesting also sounded serious - the new Julius Ceaser, for example, is probably a bit light on laughs. We prefer more frivolous fare on our visits so we chose The Reduced Shakespeare Company and the latest production "The Complete World of Sport (Abridged)".
neither of us is a sports fan and the production - played out to a theatre barely a quarter full - started a little weakly but it soon built up some momentum and the gags were fast enough that even non-sports fans could find a lot to laugh at in their breakneck silliness. It was slight but enjoyable.
We rounded off the night in a pub which, far from being full was almost deserted in spite of being less than thirty paces from Covent Garden. So much for the heaving crowds. They should hold the Olympics there every year. It makes the place so much easier to get around.
(*For any who don't know, Boris is Boris Johnson, the flamboyant, flop-heard and utterly bonkers Mayor of London, who may yet - Heaven forbid - end up as our prime Minister.)
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