March 14, 2017

9.00 am: Off to Kilburn underground station (beloved of Leon Kossoff) and into the city centre. I took a coffee-shop respite to gather my thoughts and plan my morning. Central Line: ‘Adjusted Shape Array’:

9.30 am: I made my pilgrimage (again) to the centre of the known universe: Denmark Street. Every time I visit, there’s one less shop to enter. As they disappear, so too does a little more of Britain’s popular music history:

10.00 am: I attended:

at the British Museum. The print output of the period from Pop Art to Conceptualism provides a striking index to the movements characteristics and attainments as a whole. Unfortunately, the (necessary) low-light conditions defeated the luminosity of the highly chromatic works by Lichtenstein, Rosenquist, and Warhol. Brice Marden’s grid-based prints were new to me, as, too, Serra’s darkly engorged surfaces.

11.30 am: Back to Tottenham Court Road by way of L Cornelissen & Son – the best professional artists’ toy shop in the country:

There, in the late 1980s, I brushed shoulders with Howard Hodgkin. I wished I’d been brave enough to shake his hand and say ‘thank you’. Yesterday, my son and I passed Bewick Street. Today, I returned to visit the daily market. Presently, it’s tucked away behind construction hoardings that box-in alleys throughout Soho. The old world of strip clubs, sex cinemas, and furtive video and bookshops has been overlaid by gentrified eateries and specialised food outlets:

1.30 pm: Following lunch, I returned to the British Museum. During the late 1980s and early 90s, when I was undertaking PhD research in the British Library (which was within the museum in those days), I’d sit under the portico to eat my lunch:

During my break, I would take on one of the room’s contents in order to broaden my mind beyond the narrow bounds of my doctoral study. Today, I was drawn to the collection of Byzantine and Russian Orthodox icons. Inevitably, I also gravitated towards the Egyptian, Assyrian, and southern Arabian rooms and, there, renewed my childhood fascination for ancient forms of writing. I’ve never tired of them:

2.40 pm: I began a circuitous return to Euston via Paul patisserie on Bedford Street. At the station, the voice on the public address announced: ‘The toilets on the concourse are now closed; we apologise for the inconvenience’. A classic. 3.43 pm: I boarded the Glasgow Central train for the first leg of my journey home. I’ve committed myself to presenting one of the Lent talks at Holy Trinity Church. I made a start. The man opposite was coughing like a TB ward. Not good! 5.09 pm: From Birmingham International to Shrewsbury. Behind me was a mother with bronchial children. I’m done for!

Later, I returned to the AberDoc admin. This needs to be off my desk by the close of tomorrow evening. 8.20 pm: We crawled into Aberystwyth station on time. I need a meal, and shower, and a bed. The town was in dense fog. Beautiful and welcoming.

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