The evanescent Howard Hodgkin at the National Portrait gallery and the man who walks his cat on a lead

Urgently needing a coffee having missed buying one on Brighton train station we dived into Cafe in the Crypt on Trafalgar Square, always worth remembering if you’re in the area. On to the exhibition..

2017-05-02 10.41.27I haven’t been to the National Portrait Gallery since Mario Testino was on some years ago. But Howard Hodgkin will draw me to any gallery that’s prepared to show his work. I hadn’t expected this exhibition to be quite as large as it was but pleasantly so. Its just right and the work is, to put it mildly, beautiful. Hodgkins painting style is close to my own and when I stand in front of them I recognise the language he’s expressing with each brush stroke. There are a surprisingly large number of paintings that can be viewed with a representational eye though his work becomes increasingly abstract as time passes. Personal favourites are Portrait of the artist 1984-7, First Portrait of Terence McInerney 1981, Lawson, Underwood & Sleep 1977-80 and Mr and Mrs E.J.P. 1969-73. But to be honest I ‘ve had to slash that list for fear of re-typing the catalogue.

This is a wonderful exhibition, Hodgkin is one of our great painters and everyone should rush to see this show.

Some criticisms for the National Portrait Gallery. First, brief your reception staff on the exhibitions you’re currently running. None of them had a clue! Slightly depressing. Two, the chairs in your cafe downstairs are VERY uncomfortable, the sides jam you into the chair and stop you from sitting with a good posture. Three and the most important, I couldn’t buy a paperback catalogue and so had to pay ten pounds more for a hardback one. Not all of us are part of the metropolitan elite and so that ten pounds hurts. On top of which I personally prefer a softback version and don’t want to HAVE to buy a hard back version. Slap yourselves around the face and come to the realisation you’ve made a mistake about this. Even your staff know I’m right.

After Hodgkin my friend Millie and I walked through Covent Garden revisiting old memories until we found a rare spot of tranquility in London. At the end of Neal Street is a nice little bakery and if you happen to be lucky and get to sit in the window you can watch the world go by. Indeed, you can if you’re lucky, watch a man walking his cat on a lead. He’ll probably be posing for photographs as the tourists love it.

Walking back to Covent Garden we stumble across the Moomin shop and of course have to step in and buy a couple of bits and bobs. We’re all moomin’ed up now.

We continue on our way and find ourselves at Embankment Tube station a little drowned by now and ready to go home. An uneventful train ride sees us safely home and because its still early we decide to have a drink at Grand Central. It scores a big hit with me as it sells Makers Mark, two of those and a little Jazz music finishes the day perfectly.

As always Millie a lovely day and many thanks for your company.