Brighton 5 v 0 Norwich

2016-10-29-16-42-15You don’t get to see a 5-0 very often in your life and as an Ipswich fan I’ve been lucky to experience that against the old enemy Norwich, 21st February 1998. So to experience it twice was a joy, a spy in the Brighton camp I am never the less a supporter and of course especially so against Norwich.

The game swung on an early goal at the opposite end to us. An opportunist piece of work from Glenn Murray, stealing the ball from the keeper and slotting it in. I didn’t celebrate the goal because I thought the ref would blow at any moment but he never did and that was that. In a tight first half where Norwich impressed the goal helped settle the Seagulls and their supporters and beer at half time saw a discussion about how good Norwich looked and how we’d do well to hold them today.

2016-10-29-16-47-32Murrays second got the fans going (it being in front of the North stand) and suddenly Norwich looked shaky at the back and Brighton began to attack them from all sides. Four minutes later Dunk sailed above the defence and bang 3-0. The Norths getting up for this now and even I’m celebrating the goals like its Ipswich (if only). Murray scores the fourth, his hatrick and this is where we crack, furiously jumping around hugging strangers just because its that kind of moment. It feels significant and so we photograph the scoreboard just to say we were there. But that’s not the end and my dream to see five against Norwich again is given to me by the Seagulls. Knockaert scores a wonderful chipped goal right in front of us and we all go wild again, crowd singing lets go fucking mental. We photograph the scoreboard again and the moment is complete. Thank you Seagulls, it was great to see Norwich go down 5-0 for a second time and brought all the memories of 1998 back to life.

Georgia O’Keefe – Fiercest of warriors

379px-O'Keeffe-(hands)The Georgia O’Keefe show at Tate Modern is perhaps an alternative view of the most famous female painter in history. Traditionally we think of her as someone who paints flowers, not just flowers of course, they mean much more than that but flowers never the less. This show balances all her styles and subjects on one plate to give us the fuller view of her oeuvre. The outcome is a clearer view of this fierce warrior painting on the edge, abstracts, skulls, cityscapes, night paintings, it’s all there.

Composition is key to her decision making often perfectly balancing a painting down its centre point with contrasting sides of one object (see Calla Lilies on Red 1928). She stares sharply and then paints that sharpness often bringing things to a literal sharp point. Her colour is always perfectly balanced and reminded me of Caspar David Friedrich slowly shifting down from the full colour to paler and paler versions. She also paints a perfect gradient using the same colour shift, blending the colour as if it had been airbrushed.

My personal favourites were a beautiful nightscape of New York City (New York Night 1928-9), the beautiful Calla Lilies on Red 1928 and Horses Skull on Blue 1931.

2016-08-26 12.56.58It was a hot day in London with my friend Millie. We had a light lunch around Borough Market and found shade under a well placed tree. I took pity on a scrawny cat and fed him some of my gourmet Sausage roll, he seemed grateful. We then walked along the South Bank of the Thames towards our goal of Tate Modern. Received poor service from London Travel Inn Capital Southwark, better service from Swan connected to the Globe Theatre. Having spent two hours going round the exhibition and then re-hydrating in the cafe afterwards we took a peek at the new extension at the back of the Tate on our way out and then walked on until we got to Giraffe on Southbank Centre. The food was adequate without being spectacular but our compliments to the staff who were excellent in challenging conditions.

2016-08-26 17.12.42To finish the trip we had to sneek me all the way home without a train ticket having lost mine somewhere in london. But we’re old hands and got the job done nicely. Lovely day.

Jazz, Neil Young and Pink Floyd

In my experience there is life and then there is none. This post is about life. A pleasant evening with Ric, first we listened and the subtleties of Jazz washed over us and then we discussed it. Beer and then bourbon helped and then we drank more bourbon and discussed other things and the barman wanted to hear us tell him that Georgia O’Keeffe was the meaning to his life. Ric, still fierce, a warrior who must be slowly brought back to the fight. Time came and Ric runs for the last bus, I on the other hand fall into the clutches of POW, my favourite pub where sometimes time stands still and this night time stood still. Many more bourbon, wonderful conversations with dutch Vikings who wonderfully love the British and are happy to know us despite #brexit. Then Zebra and 6fish regale the boy who is a living saint with tales from the seventies and eighties, drugs, booze, shagging, break ins and death defying accidents. We’ve done it all. The bourbon flows until time loses all meaning and finally Pink Floyd comes into focus.

 

Talk of Networked Doom and offices re-arranged for fun only. We did it all and Pink Floyd was the sound track to our lives. It’s better to burn out than to fade away. It was 19:00 pm when I left the flat, it’s 02:00 am now, to ruin and the worlds end.

A Perfect Day

Attending someone’s funeral isn’t usually a good sign if you’re looking to have a perfect day. But this day was the perfect day and the funeral was perfectively part of it.

I walked in the sunshine through the sleepy village of Needham Market to the train station heading for my old friends funeral thinking of him as I walked. On the platform I looked across the countryside while I waited for the train and I knew that Dale was with me, he would stay all day I realised later.

The train pulled in and I scanned the passengers on board, there was a small chance another old friend of mine might have got my message and be on board. I couldn’t see her and so decided to board. As I sat down and wondered whether to check the train properly I felt a tap on the shoulder and there she was, the perfect girl for my perfect day.

We grabbed a taxi at Ipswich station to ensure we would be on time and had fun chatting with our driver who’s broad Suffolk accent was a perfect accompaniment to our journey. He got us where we needed to be and we laughed as we left his company.

Fearing an austere funeral ceremony our fears were allayed immediately and it was clear this would go well and when Effervescing Elephant by Syd Barratt came on we all relaxed. Dale had sent his messenger to ease our fears.

The call came out for people to speak and mistakenly I faltered. Unprepared as I was I did not want to spoil peoples last goodbye. But, I had something to say and here it is. Dale and I discussed many things but we always came back to one thing and that one thing was ‘it’. We couldn’t define ‘it’ and so we called it, ‘it’. We felt that we had ‘it’ and that everyone should strive to achieve ‘it’. Later, I found a better definition of ‘it’ when reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig described it as ‘quality’ and quality defines Dale Mann. 

We said our goodbyes, briefly meeting Dale’s son, it was like looking my old friend straight in the eye.

I had planned to walk down the cemetary as we left and this proved a good decision, there was nothing depressing about walking through the cemetary and workers chatting as we went combined with dog walkers and joggers made the walk pleasant. We strayed only slightly before perfectly finding the bottom of the cemetary and so the top of Cemetary Road. A short walk down, passing the place I lived for a short while back in those old days and then we were at the bottom of Hervey Street. My brothers old house where too I had lived in those days. Across Cobbold Street and we were at the bottom of Bolton Lane. I lived on Bolton Lane while I was at art school and so it was nice to see it again.

And so to my goal, Christchurch Park. Tea with the perfect girl, looking across the pond where my old friend Tony and I came to feed the ducks in our first year at art school. Tony too is lost but not forgotten.

2016-08-03 13.01.24My next goal was to walk up the hill to where the childrens playground now exists, it wasn’t there when Dale and I and our other friends used to hang out there. On the crest of the hill there you will see a single large tree, I call it The One Tree. It was our tree, many days spent drinking under it, shading from the sun, talking, always talking. If you go there, you will find Dale and some day me. The perfect girl shed a tear and as usual I didn’t know how to console her, but the tear was perfect and the moment slowly passed. I told her the story I have of Dale and the one tree..

When Dale and I were friends I was like a puppy that gnawed at his ankle to begin with. Slowly he brought me up to speed with George Harrison and others. But in the beginning I was still a schoolboy and so still delighted in school boy jinx. We were hanging about under The One Tree one day and I did something to upset him, I can’t actually remember what it was but he quickly had fire in his eyes and since I’d not seen that before I legged it down the hill heading north across the park. Being tall and in those days young I was confident I could out run him, I was wrong. Dale was lythe and ran fast and so he chased me across the park, I turned this way and that but could not shake him. Eventually I headed back to the hill and The One Tree and an idea came to me. I slowed my pace very slightly and allowed Dale to get as close to me as I dared, as I ran around the hill I suddenly turned to run up the hill, just as Dale was about to bring me down I deliberately fell to the ground and scrunched up like a ball. Because he was so close to me he had no time to adjust his step and so fell over me. I jumped up and ran up the hill to The One Tree. Puppy had triumphed and the old dog had cooled the fire in his eyes, accepting his fate. Because I won the battle that day I never forgot it of course and would give anything to have the fun of Dale chasing me across the park again.

It was time for the perfect girl and I to leave and we walked down the slope musing at how on earth I had managed to run up it once!

We passed through Ipswich and ended up in the Town Hall cafe/gallery. While we had coffee and scones we saw the Jackson Pollocks Paul had spoken about. As we left I saw Mannings on the left and since it was an old haunt of Dale and I we stopped by for a drink. Wonderful to see that it has not changed at all, a very rare thing these days.

And so to the train station for the journey home. It was hard to leave the perfect girl but circumstances meant we had to part quickly and before I knew it I was on my way back to Needham Market.

Goodbye my old friend, our connection was strong and stood the test of time. You held to our pact and sought quality all your life and so shall I.

theperfectgirl

The Perfect Girl

thepuppy

The Puppy

Falling down drunk

This ones for Trace. Oh my goodness, its been a lot of years since I was falling down drunk but last night I was falling down drunk! For some reason (nothing to do with the endless Asahi and Jack Daniels Honey shots) my stool just wouldn’t play ball and I couldn’t stay on it! Fortunately my old friend John was there to pick me up, the fact that I fell down again was nothing to do with him :-) I once fell out of a pub twice and this was a similar experience.

My compliments to everyone at the bar last night. Before the falling down drunkenness we had a surprisingly serious debate about the referendum and I was impressed by how seriously everyone took it. Go to the polls and vote!

A pub that has an angel behind the bar is a blessed place and POW has an angel, full of hope and with a voice to match. Me and my favourite Dyke 😉 had a lovely conversation and we bathed in the glow of our resident angel.

There are certain places in the world where magic resides and POW is one of those places.

Can’t tell you how happy I am that the democrats are taking part in a sit in in congress. Get yourself down there POTUS.

The man who decided to paint

(editor) This is not strictly a memory of mine more a short story based on a story told to me recently.

 

12046659_10153265306487872_3333843375679983499_nHe’d been thinking about it for a while and he had one or two friends who painted so it seemed like quite a good idea. But how to start?

6fish had advised him to buy a good easel and go from there and so one day he did just that. The day finally came and the easel arrived. He manoeuvred it into position and paused, now what?

I’m going to need some paint and brushes he thought and so he bought those too. But where to put them? I’m going to need a table to go next to the easel. Before too long the table appeared.

I’m going to need a chair too he thought. A chair was found.

After a while he decided the easel needed waxing and so a few hours later it was indeed waxed, ready to go. Along with the table and the chair.

Slight problem, the carpet below the easel is white, not good for painting. What I need is a rug! And so, before too long, a rug arrived. Ah, now I can paint.

Wait, I need a palette to mix my paint on. Before too long the palette arrived. Now to paint.

Hmm, I don’t have anything to paint on, I need some canvas. The canvas arrives and now to paint!

I need a colour chart to tell me which colours to use where. Colour chart made, it was finally time to paint!

What should I paint? Should I practice formal styles from say a still life? Or should I just paint from my heart, whatever comes out?

I’ll paint whatever comes out. I’m going to start painting whatever comes to me.

I don’t know what to paint.

6fish and Murakami encounter absinthe in Shoreham

And there it goes, the train I’m supposed to be on, happily now jogging along to Brighton. Unfortunately I’m stuck on Shoreham train station now, its late at night and its a half an hour to the next train. Nothing for it but to sit on a seat and wait it out.

I have a secret weapon, Haruki Murakami’s book Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage. This book has been by my side during tribal drinking in Suffolk, funicular rides in Hastings, Ig and Ms Moons wedding and stazi grilling at Brighton Museum and Art Gallery (It has an appalling new pay to enter policy except for residents assuming you carry a poll tax bill around with you for fun. Another place struck from my list.) . Now it finds itself on Shoreham train station but still it fits right in. I’m happily reading away when the two young men who have been drinking with a young woman down the end of the platform walk up to my end to point at something on the track they put there days ago. As they turn to go back to the girl the alpha male, boozed up on absinthe (he offers me some, I decline) asks me what the front of my book says. I say Murakami, they have fun trying to pronounce it and then ask what its about? I’ve been in situations like this before and its gonna be tricky to avoid conflict with the alpha male, he’s a little too far gone to reason with, I pause.

I decide to use the plot to Haruki’s book as my weapon of choice. I describe to them that its about a group of friends but that one day four of the friends decide to reject the fifth friend and banish him from the group. The plot appeals to my absinthe drinking friends, they’ve been here before and are familiar with such machinations. Its at this point that the absinthe shows its colour, without any pause or thought the alpha male says ‘he’s a rapist’. My jaw drops, how on earth did he come up with that (a fear grows in my mind, but no point in going there, I can’t do anything about it anyway). The plot does indeed accuse the fifth man of being a rapist and so alpha male is spot on. The beta male is beginning to like the sound of the book and if he’d been alone some work could have been done. But he’s not and there’s an alpha male still to deal with. I continue with the plot but my arrow has struck home and alpha male walks away, disarmed, beta follows. They go back to the girl and their chatter begins.

My train comes in and sitting on it waiting for it to pull out I’m tempted to throw my book out to them. I pause too long and the train whisks me away.

Steppenwolf reads Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami whilst tribal drinking at Mo Mo’s, on the Road in Suffolk, doing Hastings and Ig & Ms Moon’s wedding.

2015-09-06 12.53.25
2015-08-29 00.43.11Haruki Murakami should always be read on the road and so it was that I began Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and his Years of Pilgrimage on the train to Suffolk to visit my relatives. I won’t bore you with the full story of that (just some highlights), but every trip to Suffolk begins with a drinking session at Mo Mo’s and this was no exception. What was exceptional was the truly tribal nature of the drinking session. Kudos to all those involved in one of the best Mo Mo nights I have attended. In other Suffolk news, my mum revealed she had never had a cheese and ham sandwich before and also that she had attended the same art school as me in the early 1940’s!

My trip to Suffolk was over before I knew it with only a small part of Colorless read and so my reading continued over the the following weekend. The following Saturday I knew the day would be good as the coffee began to seap into my brain, a flock of geese flew over my train like a native American sign telling me the way was clear. I had seen the geese from far off and was studying them intently because although they were far off they seemed like really big birds (for a moment I thought ‘the eagles are coming’). As they got closer I realised they were geese and my intense viewing of them led to a nice conversation with the lady next to me on the train. She sold me on the virtues of Polegate (its well situated between Lewes and Eastbourne).

On time I walked from the train station to the wedding venue (Hastings Museum and Art Gallery) only getting slightly lost (always the best kind of lost and standard for Murakami adventures). I didn’t ask a cat where to go because an ambulance man kindly obliged and before I knew it I was fully turned around and heading in the right direction.

2015-09-05 11.22.36Despite rumours to the contrary I didn’t read Haruki Murakami during the ceremony and duly paid attention to the cute speeches, poems and other guff people spout at weddings, yadda yadda yadda. I took photos to prove I had been there and would have shed a tear if I’d had a spare one. I realised that my life had a new classification I was not aware of, ‘people who come from Brighton’ and a motley crew we were. Frightened by the locals we huddled together for defensive purposes at various stages in the day. A brief note for the gentleman who played clown for the photographs, you’ve got talent and a touch more makeup and you could join a circus. How to get out of Hastings Museum and Art Gallery was pretty tricky (a magic button on the wall opens a door inwards for unsuspecting steppenwolves, not paying attention), its seems once you’re in they’re not that keen to let you go, I won’t hold that against them.

2015-09-05 12.51.402015-09-05 12.42.542015-09-05 12.08.26

Whilst no one was looking I legged it to the sea front and before I knew it was standing at the end of the pier looking at all the work being done. This seemed like a good time to have a beer and so over the road to The White Rock Hotel. Some good and one bad experience here. The bar maid short changed me (a personal no no for me, always mentioned in reviews), when she gave me the pound she’d short changed me she took it from the staff tips tin where she had put it in the first place! Bit of a give away (management note). On the good side she had been trained to pour a pint of Guinness and that is always appreciated and the Hotel has a nice veranda to sit on and watch the sea and the world go by while you read Haruki. The old man with the dog with the highest collar in the world was a highlight and brought a smile to my face.

2015-09-05 13.46.382015-09-05 13.04.43Walking along the sea front I passed the crazy man shouting gobbledygook and having offered this service to Ig the previous day saw what was perhaps my future. The man walking in the opposite direction who said “at least he hasn’t got a care in the world” was right and I replied “its not a bad place to be”. I also passed the intriguing St Mary in the Castle building but did not have time to explore (another time). Then passed the fishing boats before reaching Jerwood gallery.

2015-09-05 14.23.33Having reached my next goal, Jerwood gallery, I bought a ticket, £8, its a little too expensive guys and is the reason people are passing by. Nasty moment when I was asked for my postcode and replied by reflex. Why you needed it should have been clearly stated and someone over there should read the data protection act more carefully. Nasty marketing moment to start my visit, stop doing it. Having been directed to the Lowry exhibition I couldn’t find it and ended up back at reception again before someone managed to explain two dark rooms that looked like storage areas were the exhibition. Some signs would have been useful.

Lowry by the sea at Jerwood gallery drew mixed emotions, first the lighting of the exhibition is so dark you can’t actually see the paintings. I know it’s for their own good but if you can’t see the work it’s kinda pointless displaying it. That said the work itself conveyed the loneliness from which he painted it and his skill as an artist is and always has been, underestimated.

There are one or two nice pieces from the collection on display, in particular a nice Maggi Hambling. I took a break in the nice cafe and shared an Apple Juice with a friendly wasp ( he didn’t like being photographed however so I obeyed his wishes) whilst reading Haruki Murakami and being spied upon (you know who you are). Downstairs had some further nice pieces from the collection and if I’d paid £5 to get in I’d have felt I got my moneys worth. Slightly disappointed there was only one Lowry postcard to buy as I had connected with three or four of the paintings and would have liked a postcard to take away. Someone from The Jerwood should visit The De La Warr to learn how to do this kind of gallery. In particular it needs to be free to get to the cafe.

2015-09-05 14.29.202015-09-05 14.30.232015-09-05 14.21.53I walked a little further to see the iconic fishing huts before boarding the East Hill Cliff funicular railway. I’ve never ridden on one and since Hastings has two this seemed like the time to dip my toe in the water. The two funicular railways in Hastings are very different with one having a great view and the other climbing into darkness immediately. The East Hill one is the one with the view and as a bonus provided a view at the top, of the back of Ig and Ms Moons house. For this reason I recommend riding it even if you don’t want the nice walk available at the top.

2015-09-05 14.54.352015-09-05 14.47.56Back down to sea level and its time to start walking to the reception. With some clever navigation I find George Street straight away and pass Hastings Arms where Ig and Andrea first met (seems appropriate). At the other end is the West Hill Cliffe funicular railway, I recommend going up with children aboard as they appreciate the darkness much more than adults. A quick photo of the East Hill and its off to the wedding reception. Another quick picture of the front of the house and I’ve photographed it from both sides!

2015-09-05 18.38.212015-09-05 17.43.00I was forced to sign a wall before being given some Pimms and it looks like I might have to read the data protection act to the Grants/Moons. My complements to the Brighton motley crew who entertained with humour and laughter. There was a moment where it looked like things might turn nasty and certainly some who shall remain nameless did start hoarding cutlery. But the fish and chips showed up just in time and very quickly people were sated. I just caught a glimpse of the cake cutting and after much laughter and chat it was soon time to go home. The train gods were with us and we just made the quick one. We were soon safely back in Brightons arms, unscathed by our sojourn to Hastings.

Meanwhile the grass continues to grow.

What goes around, comes around

The Invitation

263575_2219354405691_774685_nMore than two years ago now the idea came to me. I was watching a TV programme and a lollypop lady who had been working for 30 years was retiring and so people had put her name forward to attend the Queens Garden Party. It became apparent to me that it was now possible for ordinary people to receive such an invitation and that got me thinking. My mum, who’s services to society have never been recognised before could perhaps finally have her day.

When my mum was younger she had fostered many young children and finally having taken me at the age of two, temporarily, in the early sixties she had kept me. I stayed until I left home and I’ve been part of the family ever since. All this while looking after three of her own children.

Later in life she spent many years acting as a carer for my dad who developed a muscle wasting decease and became increasingly difficult to look after until the end ten years ago. Surely, I thought, fostering and caring, two of the least recognised services to society ought to be recognised in some way? Why not an invitation to the Queens Garden Party?

2015-08-02 13.51.40I began to wonder how you might go about getting such an invitation and if I succeeded what would be involved. I decided the best thing to do to get an invitation was to write to the Queen. I realised this probably wouldn’t work but hoped that it might provide some leads. Sure enough it did indeed pay dividends. The Queens Lady in Waiting sent me a posh letter to say that although the Queen was moved by my story she did not issue the invitations directly and that the best thing for me to do would be to contact a Lord Tollemache who would review the submissions for the Garden Party in my mums area. He, it seems, was the man with the plan.

At this point the plan stalled for a year. I forgot to write to Lord Tollemache for a while and when I got around to it I realised I was probably too late to get an invitation for that year. I decided to wait.

At the end of the year I suddenly remembered it all again and wondered if I might be still in time? I’d lost Lord Tollemaches address by now but, hey, that’s what the net is for right? I found the relevant council and got the number for his office. I decided to call and see if it was worth making a submission. A very nice lady called Valerie said that I was in fact only just in time for submissions and would need to write mine that very day and e-mail it to her for consideration with all the others the next day. I duly wrote my letter explaining about my mum and also mentioned that my sister is also now a fosterer having raised her own family and seen them fly the nest. I asked that she be the person to accompany my mother should the submission be successful. One thing was for sure, I wouldn’t be the best person to accompany her (I’m more than a little scruffy and not exactly a royalist). I got my submission in in time and now there was nothing else for it but to wait.

This is where the story becomes a bit of a farce I’m afraid so deep breathe..

I waited a few weeks wondering if my application had been successful. I was actually wondering if I would hear anything anyway, as, if I was successful, it might be that the invitation would just be sent to my mum. I get a phone call one day from Valerie, she explains that I was indeed successful and my mother would be invited to the Queens Garden Party. This was actually the reason for her call because an initial letter had been sent to my mum asking for details (security type questions) and she had had no reply. Did I know what had happened? It was getting close to the deadline and she needed to know if my mum wanted to go.

Until now I had not mentioned the plan to anyone as I was hoping to get away without anyone knowing I had done it. My cover was clearly blown! I figured my sister would know if anything had been received as I was sure my mum would show her any unusual letters. In fact I had been counting on this. I thought my mum would show the letter/invitation to my sister who would realise its importance and help her deal with it. I decided to ring her and ask about the letter. She said that she did think that there had been a letter but that they had decided it must be some kind of scam and that it would be best to throw it away. Aaargh! I called my mum and asked her about the letter, sure enough she had received it but had indeed thrown it away not realising its importance. I explained what it was about and asked if she would like to go. She would. Back to the drawing board.

I had to call Valerie the next day and explain that I hoped she wouldn’t take it personally but my mum had thrown her letter out by mistake. Could she resend it? Fortunately, she saw the funny side of it and said she could. I Called my mum again and impressed upon her that she needed to reply quickly with the relevant information. She did. Same day as the letter arrived it was sent back. Laughs all round.

Now the planning begins. Train tickets to book. Dresses and hats to buy. A second letter arrives with details of the day and timings. Apparently the actual invitation won’t arrive until nearer the day.

Family visit

I’ve just been visiting the family (I live in Brighton they live in Ipswich) and the importance of the day seems to have been grasped now and everyone is happy they are going. So here I am sitting on my train home having paid a visit to everyone, safe in the knowledge that the next time I see my mum and sister they will be all dolled up, hats and all, ready to attend The Queens Garden Party!

More farce coming up..

I get a call from my mum. Apparently my sister has now received her invitation to the Palace! That’s the good news, unfortunately its now two week later and my mum hasn’t received hers! Looks like there’s more drama to come. Next day I call my old friend Valerie (at least she feels like an old friend by now) and ask her if this seems normal or if I should be doing something about it. She confirms my fears, it’s not normal and I should do something about it.

Apparently the invitation comes from the Lord Chamberlains office which is part of Buckingham Palace so it looks like I’m gonna need to call her madge’s place. Valerie gives me a “name” and so I make the call. Reception asks for a name and thanks to Valerie I’ve got one, I’m transferred. A very posh lady comes onto the phone (I thought Valerie was posh up to this point) and confirms the invitation should indeed have arrived by now as it had been sent at the same time as my sisters. Hmm. This could be trouble. We discuss what to do and as we do we confirm the address it was sent to. Ah! Its gone to number 6 and not number 16! That explains why she hasn’t got it, what to do now? I suggest to the posh lady that I get my mum to call at number 6 and see if by some miracle they have kept it thinking it was important (the Buckingham Palace stamp should have given it away). I agree to call the Palace the next day either way.

I call my mum and ask her to go to number 6 and see if they have the invite, she calls back later to say that there was no one in. I suggest we wait until the evening, they’re probably at work and will be back by then. Mum calls around in the evening, proof of identity in hand (sweet touch I thought considering she’s in her seventies), she explains that it might sound crazy but they haven’t by any chance got an important looking letter hanging around? Indeed they have! Got it a couple of weeks ago and couldn’t decide what to do about it. Bingo, invitation in hand she calls me back, jobs a good’un. I call the Palace the next day (as you do, I’ve got the posh ladies direct number by now) and confirm we have the invite and all is well, MI5 will not be needed after all!

So three weeks away and I’ve got my train tickets, they’ve got their train tickets. My mum has a snazzy new outfit including shoes, dress, hat and handbag. My sister is on the job for herself too. I’ve begun writing an hour by hour schedule for the day just to be sure nothing goes wrong. Fingers crossed.

And so to the day

265152_2219352365640_4794234_n261739_2219352125634_5341970_nThe ball is in my court to start with. I’ve got to catch a train to London and make my way across London to Liverpool Street in time to meet my mum and sister as they come in from the other direction. I’m the pathfinder for the day and it’s my job to make sure all goes smoothly. I get to London and discover there is no tube station at Blackfriars despite what it says on my London A-Z (closed for works). No choice but to hot foot it to the next stop, I get there and the circle line is having points trouble, apparently I could be sitting in this circle line train for a long time. I get off, hot foot it north to find a Central line station, finally I’m on a tube to Liverpool Street. Success, I get to Liverpool Street and they aren’t due in for ten minutes so at this point all is well. Deep breathes.

271035_2219354685698_5520148_n261738_2219355285713_8386606_nTheir train arrives at the platform as scheduled and after a while they appear out of the crowd trying to exit the platform. Some photos and hugs etc and we are on our way. I’m going to take them to Westminster first so it’s a case of central line to Bond Street and then South. We have our faith in humanity restored on the trains as young gentlemen give up their seats for mum on both trains, most definitely appreciated. By the time we are on Westminster Bridge we’re nicely on time so we take in the view of Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, The Thames and the London Eye. As we leave I have to help a lady carry something heavy up the stairs from the tube as she is struggling and comment to my mum and sister that “What goes around, comes around” and that’s the theme for the day.

262211_2219352525644_2754376_nJust one stop back on ourselves to Embankment now and then we walk up to Trafalgar Square, time for photos. I nearly lose my mum’s hat at this point as the wind catches it and blows it away but luckily someone catches it for me, “What goes around, comes around”. Time for something to eat and drink and the National Gallery Cafe is perfect for the task. We’re actually early at this point (according to my minute by minute plan anyway) so I decide to show them some paintings in the National Gallery. Van Gogh, Matisse, Renoir, Monet and a few others, not bad aye? My mum enjoys this because there are lots of school kids busily drawing the paintings. They’ve been given pieces of paper with blank frames on them and have to find the matching frames and then draw the painting in the blank space. Nice teaching guys well done.

262368_2219353365665_2033458_n264648_2219354965705_5478283_nWe leave The National Gallery, cross Trafalgar Square and walk down The Mall. At this point we start to fit in, as people with posh outfits begin to appear from all directions, all the ladies wearing hats. When we reach Buckingham Palace we duck into Green Park so that mum and Sue can change their shoes and put their hats on. We’re not the only ones doing this. All dolled up its time for them to join the queue alongside The Palace. It looks worse than it is at it begins to move straight away and slowly we edge our way to the gates. Passports checked they pass through and that’s all I can say about that. Job done. They’re in.

264634_2219354245687_3475210_n269494_2219353725674_1181001_nI’ve got some time to kill now so I walk up The Mall but get side tracked by St.James’s Park. The sun is shining and they have some comfortable looking deck chairs just waiting to be sat in. As I walk in and start to choose my deck chair someone comes up to me and asks me if I’m going to use them I comment that I am and he gives me a ticket. He and his wife had just paid for them but had decided to leave, “What goes around, comes around”. So I get to sit on my deck chair and relax in the knowledge it won’t even cost me anything. I hadn’t planned to but I spend the next couple of hours relaxing and exploring St.James’s Park, very nice, can recommend it.

Its soon time to go and see if they are coming out so back to Green Park and wait for a few minutes before the call comes to say they are indeed out. Cross the road and there they are. Seem to have had a good time although I gather the tea wasn’t up to my mums standards, shocking!

We walk across Green Park and up to Green Park Tube station. They get a glimpse of The Ritz although its not a good time to see it as there is building work going on. Into the tube station and before you know it we’ve been transported to Covent Garden, where the lifts suitably amuse my mum who hasn’t seen anything like them.

268030_2219354485693_6354997_nCovent Garden is its usual self and after a brief look around we settle on a nice looking place to have a meal and sit down. Its Italian and they have beef something or other while I set about a large pizza. Feels like we could be in any European capital, sunshine, lots of people and good food. With a beer as reward for my efforts I’m happy to see the day end so well. We have a further walk around Covent Garden after the meal and stop for a coffee to plan our next move. Simple enough, tube to Liverpool St. and goodbyes on the platform. Great day!

Bridget Riley at De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill

2015-07-04 11.03.47My first thoughts on Bridget Riley are that she must have the patience of a saint. Her work is effectively ‘technical painting’ and as such must be very time consuming to do and test her patience to the utmost. Because the work is so technical I struggled at first to see past the production process and found myself studying the paintings up close to observe her technique. At this point I should say that through some good curation there is a small room dedicated to explaining her methodology and this was enlightening as it shows just how rigid it is. I’d go so far as to say relentless in its pursuit of perfection. A lot of these paintings are visual representations of Math and strangely the elements I like are where it appears her painting technique has let her down but when you analyse the ‘mistake’ you come to realise the error is in the code not the artist.

My overall feeling from this exhibition is that this is an artist who is struggling to leave her past behind. She needs to free herself from the artistic jail she has put herself in. There is a large painting in this exhibition that was painted on a wall and the wall was brought over from Germany for this exhibition. This painting is more recent and actually shows Bridget ‘breaking out’ of her own constraints with elements leaving the traditional box she works in. This is an encouraging sign for the future. The women I spoke to about the exhibition seemed to feel her rhythm more and so I wonder if this isn’t something to think about. I have a friend who is into jazz and I’m going to ask him to go to the show to see if he can feel it. Personally I’ve never had any so its not a surprise I can’t see it here.

Whilst going around the exhibition I couldn’t help thinking Bridget should be a print maker and I discovered afterwards she does indeed do a lot of that, I suspect I would like this work more than her paintings.

I’ll be honest, even as someone who has worked in a similar ‘technical’ way Bridget Rileys paintings are not for me. Most of them I would find hard to have on my walls because of the optical illusions (I’m not a fan of magic and trickery and thats really all these are) so prevalent. I should say however that there is some beautiful painting going on here and one or two would sit nicely on my walls without issue. I would certainly encourage everyone to attend and make their own mind up.

2015-07-03 12.55.44Many thanks to my friend Millie for being my driver on this occasion and for a lovely day. We liked Bexhill and both prefered it to Hastings and Eastbourne. It seems a little more relaxed and family friendly. All the workers serving teas, fish and chips etc were nice and helpful so there’s some good customer service. Millie wasn’t impressed by the ladies loos in De La Warr, so maybe a little work to do there guys. The De La Warr is a great venue and quite frankly Brighton should be ashamed of itself that it has nothing to match it.