Saturday, August 26, 2006

GUEST BLOGGER MARTIN AGAIN. How surprised we were to find the London pubs shuttered or putting up their stools at 11 p.m., when we left the Duke of York theatre and wended our way back to our neighborhood, desiring to discuss Tom Stoppard's Rock 'n' Roll over a pint of bitter. Because of this unfortunate circumstance we reluctantly joined the queue outside the Roxy, a dance club on Rathbone Place. Soon we passed the velvet rope and descended into a space packed shoulder to shoulder with well-scrubbed young things bopping to popular music. We took our drinks and studied the scene, which was not in any way our kind of scene, as would become more comically apparent the longer we hung around. I spied a nice-looking bird dancing alone, and I bid Roy to engage her. Off he shimmied into the mix. I, meanwhile, sought out the loo and then jockeyed at the bar for an interminably long time to place another order. After searching the crowd for some time I rejoined my friend, who now encouraged me, in a shouted and several times repeated exchange, to dance some. I don't like to be a wet blanket, so I danced. Nearby a group of young women and one bloke were arranged in a loose circle, dancing -- that is, sort of shuffling their feet and kind of moving their hips and shoulders, arms bent, hands in loose fists. I inserted myself into the circle. I raised the roof. I did the eagle rock. I did the pogo. I limped to the side like my leg was broken, shakin' and twitchin' kind of like I was smokin'. I threw my hands high in the air and partied harder like I just didn't care. I said, come alive girls, get on your feet, to the rhythm of the beat to the beat, the beat, to the double beat-beat that makes you freak, to the rhythm of the beat that says you go on, on and on until the break of dawn. I succeeded in dispersing the circle. The dude tried to force his girlfriend to dance with me, but she shrank away in disgust. Then I accidentally knocked a beer bottle off a ledge and it broke at her feet.

Before the play, we dined at a restaurant across the street from the theatre, which must only survive on its location. Outwardly it looks okay, like any middle-of-the-road bistro. My meal was amazing: a grey, fatty cutlet of sirloin steak served alongside microwaved frozen vegetables and chips.

The play was nice. "Niiice!" That's what my little girl, Esme, says about things she likes, while stroking them. Esme is the name of a major character in the play. I am happily reassured that I pronounce her name correctly. So many people say "Es-mee" I began to doubt that it's actually "Ehz-may." I should see more plays.

Today we took in the Tate Modern. The building itself shows up its collection on the whole, although there are some standout pieces. Balthus' Sleeping Girl alone made the trip worthwhile. The photography on display was singularly boring: large-scale photos of massed consumer goods in a U.S. supermarket, unremarkable people standing around doing nothing, suburban European houses, etc.

After traversing the Harmonic Bridge to the steps of St. Paul's, we cabbed it out to Brick Lane in Spitalfields, a refreshingly less tony district than what I had heretofore seen, and after walking up and down to see all the options, we allowed ourselves to be diverted by a friendly steerer promising a 20% discount on our meal into a Bangladeshi/Indian restaurant, which measured up to my expectations for curry in London.

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