August 1, 2018

6.30 am: I was woken by the noise of the rubbish lorry chundering down the road while bundling wheelie-bins into its rear-end, the vehicles’ compressors hissing like a cat in a tight situation. At least one of the flight paths to Heathrow Airport passes over the house, and there’s a railway track for goods and passenger trains at the rear. (‘Hey-ho! This is the metropolis, John’.):

9.15 am: The ‘bad lads’ moved out and towards Tate Britain, Pimlico, to see the All Too Human and Aftermath exhibitions:

The former’s thesis regarding a stylistic continuity, chain of influence, and tradition of realism extending from Soutine and Sickert through Bomberg, to Auerbach, Freud, Bacon, and beyond was familiar to me. Nevertheless, it was instructive to see it played out on the walls. If you’re a figurative painter, this exhibition is a ‘must see’. There was a series of studies by Henry Tonks, in the latter, that illustrated the appalling injuries suffered by soldiers on the front line during the the First World War. Tonks was trained as a surgeon before becoming an artist. His studies made a, no doubt unintended, connection with the ravaged and deformed faces in many of Bacon’s portraits, on show in the other exhibition.

11.15 pm: On, then, to Oxford Circus for a spot of manly shopping and lunch, before moving on to Tate Britain, where we took sustenance (yet again) in the ‘Members Room’. It has an admirable view over the Thames:

The Shape of Light exhibition addressed the question of whether photography can be abstract (like painting and sculpture). In so doing, it helpfully problematised the definition and limits of abstraction in relation to all visual modes. Provisionally, my view is this: Photography abstracts most successfully when it isolates particular phenomena from the welter of incidents that comprise perceived reality. Abstraction as extraction, in other words. (‘I wish you could’ve seen this one, Buddy!’)

4.15 pm: We needed a change of our pace and orientation. The river called to us. It was too nice a day not to swan its length from St Katherine’s pier to Westminster Pier on a cruise:

From Westminster we walked towards Wardour Street, passed the now shrouded Big Ben, Downing Street, and Leicester Square. In an otherwise undistinguished Chinese restaurant we shared a meal, the quality of which raised our eyebrows. This establishment will be added to our list of eateries to revisit.

Onwards, afterwards, to Waterloo, where we walked along the South Bank and I exercised a rare act of spontaneity: I bought an ice cream. (Never let it be said that the Harvey Boys don’t know how to let their hair down. Ideally, I’d have preferred a ‘99’. (Mr Whippy … that sort of thing.) But the queue at the ice cream van was too long. I was forced up-market:

7.15 pm: Son and father went their separate ways for the next few hours. I caught up on my life at a watering hole in Waterloo Station. This had been a rich day in so many ways. Gratitude!

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