Just returned from a week in London. Popped over there to do a bit of work stuff and renew my passport. Would have stayed for less than a week (dogs are the problem) but there are fewer flights at this time of year. And, for some strange reason, our winter flights take off ridiculously early. Going there, 10am; coming back, 7am. This meant I had to drop the dogs off at the kennel a day early in order to be at the airport by 8am (9.30 would have been okay but I like to get there early). Which meant I had to get up at 5am. As it turned out, I got up at 4, left the house at 5.30 (I thought it might be foggy as well as dark) and arrived at the airport at 7.20. I then killed a couple of hours by sitting in the car playing I-Spy, watching the sunrise, noshing a couple of sarnies I'd knocked-up the previous night, swigging coffee from my battered Thermos and attempting to get some kip (failed miserably). Amazing how slowly time drags by in that sort of situation.
Anyways..., arrived Stansted at mid-day (French time) or 11am (UK time), hopped on a coach and arrived at Victoria around 1.30. As Georgie was working (Covent Garden), I thought it'd be a wizard wheeze to meet her after work. This meant I had to kill four hours. Having just finished reading 'Tinker, Tailor' on the plane, I decided to see the film. Tracked it down in Leicester Square, watched it, met Georgie after work and together we ambled off to Putney.
The following day I had to report at the passport office at 10.45am (Ecclestone Square, Victoria). Arrived there early (as usual), killed some time at the caff opposite, reported bang on time, presented documents and photos expecting to be issued with a new passport there and then. Wrong. Had to come back at 3pm to collect. More time to kill. Had arranged to see Georgie for lunch at 1.45 (after her dental appt.) outside the National Portrait Gallery. Arrived there at 1.40. She still hadn't arrived by 2.15. Then remembered I had a mobile phone in my rucksack. Rang her up. Asked where she was and if she had a problem. "No," she said, "all's fine. I'll be there at 1.45." This confused me 'til I suddenly realised I was still on French time. Doh! Half an hour later we went up to the best bar in London (top floor of NPG) and were told we could only enter at lunchtime if we were eating. Well bugger that, so we had a lunchtime drink in the National Gallery restaurant instead. Then Georgie went back to work, I killed an afternoon by picking up my passport and wandering around Covent Garden being a Christmassy tourist, taking a few snaps and downing a couple of halves. Rendezvoused with Georgie after work, ambled across Waterloo Bridge, strolled around the Christmassy riverside hutshops and a bookshop under the Festival Hall (Foyles?), took a few more snaps and eventually headed for home (well, Putney) via Waterloo.
The following day (Friday) was workday at Quadrangle by Tower Bridge (see Quadrangle.com). Saw the big tower thing being built by London Bridge station - couldn't see the top though as it was hidden in mist. Didn't get it all done so went in again on Monday after a very lazy week-end doing nothing (well, did a bit of shopping in Putney with Georgie on Saturday - always rather jolly).
Then, Monday soirée, saw Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler at Hammersmith Odeon (now called the Apollo?) as the guest of the Quadrangle boss (an old mate from way back). Despite my mate reckoning Knopfler was uninspiring (just 'going through the motions' and 'painting by numbers'), I thought he was pretty good, in a laid back sorta way.
But the main event was Dylan. And on his last night of the European tour. Just to be there was a thrill. Hadn't seen him since his famous gig at Earls Court many moons ago. He's older now, of course, and his voice has changed. Some say he sounded bad to start with and he's even worse now. Some say his voice has gone completely. Some say he never had one to start with. But, as Dylan said recently "I now have the voice I always wanted." It's somewhere between gravel and a drain. Like an old blues singer. Rough. Suits me fine. And his band - brilliant! Trouble was, I didn't recognise half the songs 'til about halfway through. Thought they must have been new. But then realised they weren't. Just new interpretations of old faves. But the main thing was, he looked like he was enjoying himself. Ended as usual with 'Forever Young'. A great night.
Tuesday, killed time shopping. Early night. Cab Wednesday 3.30am, flight 7.10, delayed due to technical malfunction, swapped planes, took off late (8.15ish?), arrived Limoges 11ish (10 UK time), picked up dogs, drove home via supermarché, walked dogs up the Lightning Tree (they loved being back in the old routine), lit kitchen stove, knocked up egg and chips, watched Chelsea v some German team, fell asleep on the sofa before the match ended, woken by phone call from Georgie, yes got back okay thanks, went to bed.
4 weeks ago