Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two more days in London

Winterson and Woolf
On Saturday, I slept in and then walked around the Angel area of the city full of shops and restaurants. Then, I went over to the Quaker Meeting House across from Euston Station and met my friend Carrie for lunch at the lovely little cafe and bookshop they've opened on the ground floor. It's a sleek little space with a good menu of organic food, fair-trade coffees and interesting titles for kids and adults. Carrie and I have been friends for 20 years now and we always try to catch up when I'm in London. She also brought along her two children and we walked to Bloomsbury so they could play at the playground and I ventured on to Gay's The Word.

Gay's the Word has been London's gay and lesbian bookshop for more than 30 years. It's tucked away on Marchmont Street and is crammed full of titles. I dropped off a few copies of Remain In Light for them to stock and, of course, wound up making a couple of purchases: Jeanette Winterson's memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? and a gorgeous little copy of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. Although I'm loving my Kindle and a proponent of eBooks, I still love the look and feel of physical books. You just can't duplicate the tactility of holding a book in your hands.

After browsing for a bit, I caught the tube and ventured back over to Piccadilly Circus to walk around for a bit. Trooping the Colour for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee had been held earlier, and the streets were mobbed with people. I had watched a bit of the RAF fly over at Agnes' flat, and it was spectacular to see those jets racing over central London. Of course, it wouldn't have been me in London without a transport incident. I waited at a bus stop on Piccadilly for nearly half an hour (along with a lot of other folks) before we realized all the buses had been diverted over to Regent Street. There was no indicator or message or staff to tell us. That's another bad sign for the Olympics. I finally caught the bus at the Trocadero, went about five blocks and then the driver said we all had to get off and changes buses with no explanation. By the time I got back to Agnes', I was ready for dinner and trashy British television. One of my lasting memories of this trip will be sitting up with Agnes watching Midsomer Murders, Britain's Got Talent and game shows like Million Pound Drop.

Me, Ian and Donna at HomeGround party
Sunday was the big HomeGround 30th anniversary party at Lo-Profile in Soho. The anthology wasn't ready in time (I saw the proof and it looks fantastic), but there were nearly 200 people in attendance and it's always a treat to hear Kate Bush's music in a proper club setting. I got to see so many of my old friends and also had a chance to meet Kate's longtime engineer/guitarist Del Palmer and guitarist/vocalist Brian Bath, who played on some of Kate's most well-known songs. They were both affable and chatty fellows, and it was a pleasure to meet them both. I also had a long conversation with I.V. Webb, who features on Del's latest solo album, Gift, and is a very talented singer/songwriter. She's from New York, but now happily "exiled" in London. Lucky!

The party lasted from 4 to 10 p.m. and none of us wanted to go home. We hung on each other, saying our goodbyes until the music finally stopped. Singing along to "Wuthering Heights" (not to mention acting out a few of Kate's video dance moves) with a room full of fans was such a thrill.

Somehow, I managed to get to Heathrow yesterday morning and fly out on the first available flight to Atlanta. It was first class again, so I really am spoiled now. My 13 days in London went by way too fast. I'm already counting down the days until I can go back.

3 comments:

Kate Evans said...

I love the title of the Winterson memoir; let me know if you like it. So happy you were able to take the trip!

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

It all sounds very satisfying. That title alone would make the Winterson a must-read ... though of course not the only reason.

Collin Kelley said...

Thanks for following my adventures, Kate and Rosemary. :)

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