Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, V&A, 10 July 2015

Janie was really looking forward to this exhibition. I thought I’d find it interesting too.

The V&A explains the exhibition and provides some video elements that show you quite a lot about it – click here.

In truth, neither of us much liked it. I really didn’t like it at all. Some of the rooms were so noisy and had so many different stimulae at the same time, I couldn’t really get my head around the art of it all. Perhaps it really was replicating the heaving nature of fashion shows. It didn’t help that, for this show, that Friday evening slot seemed very popular and therefore very crowded. Not for me.

We knew that we’d find several examples of our fashion photographer friend Anthea Simms’s work and sought those out; several to be found amongst the iconic postcards and posters for sale in the exhibition shop. We liked that bit best.

Here’s an e.g. for those Anthea Simms works – click here or on the picture above while the link is still live.

I for one was grateful that we’d arranged to go on to the Wigmore Hall for some grub and a late night concert afterwards; it felt like an escape from chaos into tranquility – what a huge cultural shift just down the road.

Afghanistan: Crossroads of the Ancient World, British Museum, Follwed By Dinner At Salt Yard With Anthea & Mitchell, 27 May 2011

Janie and I went to this fabulous exhibition early evening on a Friday – this notion of late opening of museums and galleries on a Friday evening was quite new then…

…or at least new to us.

Here is a link to the British Museum’s press page on the exhibition.

Here is a very informative short promotional vid for the exhibition:

Here is a search term link to reviews and other resources on the exhibition.

We had arranged to meet Anthea and Mitchell at Salt Yard later that evening. A couple of months earlier I had enjoyed a superb meal at Salt Yard with John Boy:

Dinner At Salt Yard With John White, 16 March 2011

I recall Mitchell being there when we arrived at Salt Yard and then Anthea arriving last, in a bit of a “sorry I’m late” flap…very much in character.

But the excellent food and wine soon had everyone in a chilled and good mood at the end of the week. For me and Janie, with the fascinating cultural exhibition before the gathering too, it was a super start to the weekend.

Come, Been and Gone, aka I Like My Job, Michael Clark Company, Barbican, 4 June 2010

Dance is not really my thing. Watching dance isn’t really Janie’s thing.

But Anthea and Mitchell were keen to go to this and were raving about it being original and different.

I’m sure it was.

I liked the music in the second half; all Bowie, Eno, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed, The Bruce Gilbert and Wire music in the first half left me a bit cold.

The dancing is of course incredibly skillful, it just doesn’t do anything for me.

I could see why Anthea and Mitchell, as fashion show photographers, would relate to the piece; it felt (to me) like watching one long fashion show parade.

We ran into my former colleague Angela Greenfield at the Barbican, sitting directly behind us – how weird is that? We’d sometimes bump into her at the theatre and it seems that she, like me and Janie, was there with friends who had dragged her to something she wouldn’t normally see. I think she enjoyed it as we did.

This search term – click here – should find you all you want to know about the piece.

Here’s a snippet of what it looked like:

We went on to the Hix Oyster and Chop House in Farringdon for a late but much needed meal, which was very good and gave us all a chance to chat and catch up properly.

Here is Jay Rayner’s review of the restaurant – we found both the food and the service very good when we went.

Le Cirque Invisible, Queen Elizabeth Hall, 22 August 2009

We went to see Le Cirque Invisible with Anthea and Mitchell.

Here is the Official London Theatre blurb about the show.

I recall a beautiful summer evening, enjoying drinks on the SBC terrace etc. I recall that the others liked the show more than I did. Of course it is clever and skillful, but I fins acrobatic/gymnastic performance only does so much for me.

Lyn Gardner in The Guardian didn’t like it.

Here’s a good snippet which gives you a reasonable idea:

I can’t for the life of me recall what we did afterwards. Janie and I both thought, at first, perhaps we went to Hix, but I’m now pretty sure that was another time, after we four went to a dance thing at the Barbican. Perhaps we decided not to eat afterwards on this occasion or just ate light on the South Bank.

New Year’s Eve 2008/2009 Party, Ealing, 1 January 2009

We arranged for a gathering of friends and the three sisters to see in 2009. With Phillie’s health now unquestionably in decline, it was a fine balance between ambition and pragmatism. But the big points were that Phillie wanted to dance and she wanted that close set of friends and family with her.

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So we planned to take  a big table at a public gathering in that hotel in Ealing currently (2016) known as the DoubleTree Hilton – I can’t remember what it was called at that time – Janie thinks it might have been a Ramada back then. You know the one; on the junction of the Uxbridge Road and Hanger Lane. Not normally our sort of thing, but the ability for the out-of-towners to simply retreat to their room without the need for transport/going out of doors was a big plus.

There is a sizable photo set from the evening.  The set does not come from one of my or Janie’s cameras – I think it must have been Anthea or Kim who brought the camera. Several people chipped in taking the pictures, mostly those two I think, with some drunken-looking efforts from other people thrown in. I don’t recall taking many/any of them myself.

These five must have been a terrifying quintet at school

These five must have been a terrifying quintet at school

Considering the quality of photographers present (not least Anthea Simms and Mitchell Sams) the overall quality of the photo set is less than special…

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…with a handful of notable exceptions….

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This proves that the photo pros were mostly busy enjoying themselves rather than taking snaps, which is a good thing.

It was a remarkable evening, not least because Phillie had been so poorly in the run-up to the evening, we thought even the day before that she might need to be in hospital over the new year festivities. In the end, Phillie had a great time and danced almost all evening.  We did not get any pictures of the dancing, although dancing we all, not just Phillie, certainly did.

Indeed, we all had a great time. Even me, despite evidence to the contrary in the following picture!

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A Good Month For The Worms, 2 August, 4 August, 9 August, 24 August 2008

Lots of Worm activity (i.e. Janie’s “Wormleighton” family and friends) during August 2008 if my diary is to be believed, but no photographic evidence. For more detail on some of these activities, we might need to ransack the attic and retrieve Janie’s diaries.

Saturday 2 August – Phillie.

My diary also has “Anth” crossed out, so I think the original idea was for Anthea and Mitchell to visit when Phillie was with us, but I think they came the following week and Phillie alone stayed with us at the maisonette and had dinner. Tony was away on business if I recall correctly/

Monday 4 August – Middlesex v Somerset floodlit.

I took Paul (Belmonte) that evening and gave him the pavilion experience for some of the game and also I recall watching a fair bit from the Upper Edrich Stand. I think this was only the second floodlit game at Lord’s; at least only my second experience of it.  Here is a link to the scorecard.

Saturday 9 August – Anth

Not sure what we did but quite possibly Anthea and Mitchell came over for dinner. I think my diary would have more detail if it had been a bigger adventure than that.

Sunday 24 August – Worms

The Monday was a bank holiday of course. This will almost certainly be Hil and Chris; I think we might have all have gathered at their place in Bristol – i.e. including Phillie, Tony and Charlie. I think this was the year that Janie and I went down just for the day – a late lunch barbecue – then drove home. Quite a success I seem to recall.

Iberico Ham Party, Easter, 23 March 2008

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We returned from our trip to Barcelona, Northern Spain and Rioja a few days before Easter, having pre-arranged a small gathering for Easter Sunday. It seemed only polite to bring some amazing Iberico ham back with us, together with our new-found Rioja expertise.

Add to that some of those Lindt Easter Bunnies, without which it simply wouldn’t be Easter…and good friends of course…the result was a good fun gathering.

Not all that many pictures, but the pictures are on Flickr here. I think I took most of these – looks as though it was my camera this time anyhow.

 

Kim and Micky’s Party, 8 August 1992

All the diary entry says is “Kim & Michel 1:30”. A daytime, summer party. But that summer party was no ordinary passing event for me…nor for Janie.

On that day, at that party, Janie and I first met.

Writing this piece 25 years (to the day) after the event, my recollection of the day is a bit patchy.

I hadn’t seen Kim and Micky for some time; since my back injury, two year’s before, I had been a bit less sociable and had not been so good at keeping in touch with people. I remember being pleasantly surprised when Kim called, out of the blue, to invite me to that party.

There were quite a lot of people at the party – a few dozen I would guess. I chatted at some length with a pair of lively, friendly “girls”; Anthea – a photographer friend who had been at school with Kim, as had the other young woman, Jane, who was Kim’s chiropodist friend.

I vaguely recalled Kim having spoken with me in the past about these good friends; in particular Jane. I also recalled Rene Knight (who worked for Kim’s family for many years) telling me a funny story about Jane.

When Kim first started dating Micky, Rene mentioned to Jane that Micky was from Belgium and also that Kim’s new hot-shot boyfriend drove a Mercedes. Jane had asked whether the Mercedes was petrol or diesel. Rene wondered why Jane wanted to know. Jane told Rene that a Belgian diesel Mercedes must be a cab and that, if the Mercedes was diesel, Micky was clearly not the hot-shot he held himself out to be. Rene passed on this pearl of wisdom to Kim, who confirmed that the car was indeed propelled through the use of diesel fuel. By all accounts, Kim challenged Micky with this “fact” about his occupation the next time she saw him, but, despite Janie’s error of judgment on that matter, Kim & Micky progressed with their relationship and the two of them persevered with Janie’s friendship.

In some ways it is odd that Janie’s and my path hadn’t crossed before, through Kim & Micky, but in the late 1980s, when I would see Kim & Micky socially a few times a year, it tended to be dinner or lunch parties and I guess they saw Janie and me as part of different circles. In any case, we were both otherwise attached most of the time during those years.

Anyway, Janie and I ended up as part of a smaller group that was still around into the early evening, at which point Kim suggested that we all go across the square and play tennis.

I had just started playing tennis again post injury, although quite tentatively still. Goodness only knows how useless I was after quite a few drinks at the party. But most of us had been drinking quite heavily, so I don’t suppose the quality of the tennis was very high.

I’m struggling to remember who was still around for that impromptu tennis. Janie, Kim and Micky of course; I think also Gary & Clifford. Perhaps Anthea also, but I have a feeling that she ducked out before the tennis. Others might remember.

I do recall thinking that Janie was pretty good at tennis. It probably helped that she was the only sober person among us. It also helped that she had grown up in a house with a tennis court and sisters to play with, but I didn’t know that fact at the time.

Janie had mentioned several times that she had driven to the party in her car and therefore wasn’t drinking.  After the tennis, I asked her if she could drop me at a tube station. She said that she would, but that she wasn’t prepared to go out of her way and that the only tube station she’d be passing was Hanger Lane. That was ideal for me, as Hanger Lane and Notting Hill Gate are on the same line.

Janie and I chatted some more on the fifteen minute car journey.

She said that she liked poetry.

When she stopped the car to drop me off, I asked Janie for her telephone number.

Janie said no.

In order to get out of the car with my dignity intact, I took from my wallet one of those sticky labels with my name, address and telephone number on it. I stuck the label on her steering wheel, saying, “in that case, you can have my address and telephone number”.

Janie thanked me and said that she would write me a poem.

I’m still waiting for the poem.