Second recce day for this “adventure” I’m planning for a stranger and the rain came. Nevertheless we had a brilliant and full day so I’m glad it’s not weather dependent – so long as you’ve got an umbrella. I’m knackered now but happy. My friend Marie came with me to acid test it. We’ve done a lot of walking and ended with a dance.
I tried to let her follow instructions rather than chip in live and direct her. We didn’t get lost. We started at Chalk Farm for breakfast, and then up Primrose Hill. The blossom is out at the moment although the wildflower meadow hasn’t taken yet so it’s still just a load of plastic. Still, a nice view over the plastic, and a good walk.
Then into the thick of it and Marie managed to avoid buying a tempting red hat. Camden on a Saturday is always noticeably eruptive. But before long we are in Hampstead walking up a glorious hill to a pond where we meet Dominique. She’s an artist from Detroit. She’s heard about a “secret garden” but she can’t find it. “Believe it or not that’s where we’re going,” I venture, and our happy two becomes three. But as we arrive, the weather sticks an oar in. There’s a chalk proposal for someone on the steps, unravelling as we enter. One step: Her name in pink chalk. I honestly remember it as “Shaniqua” Next step: “I love you.” Next step: “You are my soul mate”… You get the picture. All the way to “Will you marry me.” So romantic. Marie squeals when she sees it. And the rain starts falling. We still have a good stroll round the garden and it’s great. Dominique gets out her canvas but she’s clearly slightly thwarted by the rain. We tell her where we’re going next. She knows it. “It’s beautiful.” “You know it’s only 15 minutes walk from here.” “No way!” Marie and I strike out across the heath. Miraculously we don’t get lost. The rain is annoying but it’s not a game-breaker. We make good time and see beautiful things, and eat under an umbrella in the garden. I take this photo with what little battery I have in order to aid recommendation of where to sit. The guy hilariously thinks I’m pointing at him and I don’t notice until I review it later.
Then it’s into town for the urban section, seeing some sexy free art and checking out some old stuff. Everything next to everything else, as is the London way. We walk too far. My client will be on the bus but I had some places I needed to see on a Saturday in case they were mental. And I’m glad I did. One of them is off the list after we met a queue around the block. Now I’m pretty sure I’ve got the whole thing planned. Marie said “You’re going to a lot of effort for this.” I said “I don’t do things by halves.”
We then jumped to Waterloo from London Bridge. My “adventurer” will be going to immersive jazz age theatre in Borough. Marie and I went to Rock’n’Roll “Teddy” at The Vaults. It’s an extremely cool show. High energy grit. There’s a ridiculously cool actor-band fronting the show – Johnny Valentine and the Broken Hearts. Some huge joyful play going on with those musicians, and they are totally in charge of their medium and in tune with each other. Then there are two actors in a very different worldscape storytelling hard with their hearts and bodies engaged. There’s not a show like it I’ve seen and I loved it. It’s hard and soft and naughty and nice, a hymn to the darkness in the Teddy landscape, a generation before I was born suddenly feeling very alive.
Great day. Now I’m walking home down the river. My feet hurt.