As was foretold, I attended Poetry in the Crypt on Saturday, which expedition yielded these three treasures: a bilingual book of poetry by Stephen Watts & Cristina Viti, fresh off the press; a giant quince, fresh off the greengrocer’s stand; and a jar of lime and lemon marmalade, fresh from Liz Salmon’s jam kettle. The readings were good, the company full of fond familiars, and the tea and cakes most welcome. I had made a sticky ginger cake which I brought along to help with the offerings.
On Sunday we went to see the Group of Seven exhibition in Dulwich. And my goodness what a lot of people came likewise, and what a LOT of paintings were on show. “Can there be any left in Canada?” wondered Meli. Ironies not lost on me that I should travel half a world to come and see paintings by my countrymen that once inspired in me only gloomy associations with gloomy reproductions on the classroom walls of my youth. I liked many of them better in their current settings, but I find it can be harder to love what one has rubbed up against all one’s life than what might be new and exciting and from away. And I haven’t the distance to view it with new eyes. But I’m glad to have gone, and seen more of these paintings than I had, and learned a bit about them, and walked the still-leafy streets of Dulwich where once walked the schoolboy Ondaatje.
It was nigh on teatime by the time we finished, and so we stood around on the platform at South Dulwich admiring the view until the train arrived and then once back in Central London ambled across the footbridge from the Embankment to the Southbank Centre which is hosting a Christmas market, which was thronged. It had a lot of stalls selling everything from churros and sausages and ostrich burgers to Peruvian knitting, wooden knick-knacks and jewellery that, luckily for my finances, I found of little interest. Though luckily for the traders, not a view that everyone shared as many were very busy – notably the ones selling a fairly foul-smelling Glühwein.
We stopped for a bite at an Italian chain outlet, where I twice sent back my pasta with melanzane which was, twice, badly undercooked (this is why eggplant/aubergine has had such a bad rap, imho: I’ve found only Indian restaurants seem to reliably understand how to prepare to the correct texture this most delicious vegetable)(–tho botanically a fruit, of course). The manager was most understanding and said he agreed with me and would have a word with the chef and offered us a drink and dessert in compensation. But right at the next table I watched someone chew his way through a bowl of the stuff without a whimper. If he’d had a shred of awareness about what he’d been eating and didn’t realize how foully abused it had been he should have gone home grumbling about how he doesn’t really like aubergine and vowing not to order it again.
After a soothing inspection of the offerings at Foyle‘s we wended our way back across the footbridge and into the underground and home to our beds.