Friday, June 15, 2012

Five days in London

Reading at Polari at Southbank Centre
I haven't had a moment to blog this entire week, which has been chockablock with events, visiting friends and having a lovely time in London.

It was pouring rain on Monday, but I met up with my good friends Donna and Krys at Charing Cross and had dinner at Pizza Express (garlic butter dough balls... mmmmm) and then crossed the Thames via Hungerford Bridge to Southbank Centre for the Polari reading. Once inside the gorgeous Southbank, I dried off and marveled at the view of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament that were the backdrop for the stage. Polari was sold out and the mix of performers was astonishing -- Alex Hopkins reading from his memoir in progress, Kristian Johns giving us a sneak peek at novel about a gay superhero and Alex Marwood reading from her grisly murder mystery, The Wicked Girls. I read from Remain In Light and closed with my poems "Wonder Woman" and "The Virgin Mary Appears In A Highway Underpass," which were very well received by the audience. It was a gratifying evening. Many, many thanks to dapper host Paul Burston for asking me to be part of the reading. I'll never forget it.

The view behind the stage at Southbank Centre
On Tuesday, I decided I deserved a day off, so I walked up the street with Agnes for some Italian food and then came back to the flat and wrote the prologue and first couple of pages for the third book in The Venus Trilogy. I don't know if I'll keep any of it, but it was nice to get the juices flowing again and begin Martin and Irène's final journey together. I can at least say, "oh, yes, I wrote part of that novel in London." As you do.

I took the train to Rochester in Kent on Wednesday to stay overnight with Krys, husband Peter and Donna. We chatted all night, had dinner, played with the cats and watched trashy British television. On Thursday morning, we sat in the garden having tea before I departed back to London and over to Eltham to visit my friend John. Then it was back into the city for a poetry reading at L'Osteria 57.

Agnes put the reading together and Karen Head flew in for the night all the way from Barcelona to join us. Ivy Alvarez came over from Cardiff and Robert Peake, who is living in London now, also joined us. It was a lively reading and I was thrilled to be part of it. Afterwards, Karen and I went with her friend Philip for a pint at The Lady Ottoline Pub.

BFI IMAX cinema
Today, I went to see Ridley Scott's Alien prequel, Prometheus, at the fabulous BFI Imax cinema. The movie was visually stunning and the 3D Imax made for an immersive experience, but the script was lacking. The standouts were Michael Fassbender as the android, David, and Noomi Rapace as Dr. Elizabeth Shaw, the film's answer to Ellen Ripley. While Scott has downplayed the Alien connection, it is most definitely a prequel. There were many visual and verbal cues to the other Alien films (including David making an unbelievable basketball shot ala Ripley in Alien Resurrection).

After the film, I walked back to Southbank Centre and sat on the terrace overlooking the Thames with Ivy Alvarez for a cup of tea. That's where I also lost my cell phone. We were on the bus when I realized it wasn't in my pocket. I totally freaked out and raced back to Southbank in a taxi and discovered that someone had turned the phone in to lost and found. Whew! I made it over to Soho to meet Dave Cross again and hand over a memory stick with all of Kate Bush's videos on it for the HomeGround party on Sunday night. We also got to discuss Prometheus, which he liked a bit more than me.

At the Pizza Express across from Charing Cross
As an aside: I have been riding London's buses all week long and they do go everywhere, but I think I'm cursed when it comes to transportation. Earlier this week, the bus I was on stopped and the driver told everyone to get off without giving us a transfer and I (along with the other stranded passengers) had a shouting match with the next bus driver, who wanted to charge us again. The other day, the bus was diverted to another stop (not mine) because of traffic and today on the way to the BFI, the bus broke down and we had to stand in the blowing rain until another came. Moral of the story - take cabs!

Only two more days in London. Time both speeds up and slows down when I'm here, but this has definitely been a whirlwind of a trip.

2 comments:

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Loved reading of these adventures. Sorry about the bus curse, but everything else sounds terrific.

Kate Evans said...

I love thinking of you in London while I'm exploring Mexico City! So glad you're having a fabulous time. I knew you would. That place is in your bones. I love it too--especially the pub food!

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