07-07-2002

Decided for the National Portrait Gallery, though not before shopping a bit. Went to “Hamley’s” on Regent Street, the World’s largest toy-store. Some six stories high, with every bit of toy I remembered from my childhood and so much more. A playground for all ages, really. A fun place to work, I certainly didn’t notice one sad face. Hopped on a bus and went down to the Trafalgar Square, where we befriended a nearby street-market, hitherto unnoticed. Had the amazing luck to come across David Niven’s second volume of autobiography, ‘Bring on the Empty Horses’. Priced at 50p, I still cannot believe my good fortune. Look much forward to reading it again. Went about the National Portrait Gallery, thus avoiding the rain starting to fall. A museum of faces, from the earliest period till our present day. All shapes and sizes, mostly painted on canvas but also included in the collections were photographs and busts and what else. Got more from the present day material than the boring portraits of old Barons and Earls. Indeed came across Andy Warhol’s portrait of the second Queen, in sharp contrast to the first. A room with contestants for some prize or the other displayed adequately in how many ways it’s possible to draw a portrait. Cared little for the vast majority of them, though the few really good ones didn’t suffer from that. ~~~ Had dinner at Leichester Square, behind the Trafalgar Square. The theatre district, with the big movie-theatres and stages alike. Had wondered why we didn’t come across any of the former, well we succeeded in locating them. Thoughts to catch a show, but none played on a Sunday. Comparable, the district, to a tiny stretch of Hollywood Boulevard. A tourists’ trap and where the movie-­stars go for their premieres. Only notable difference were the sex-shops; no window displays, rather a singular colored front with a few non-offensive signs indicating the nature of the shop. ~~~ Safe home rested for a bit, before dressing up and going out. Concluded our visit with the Notting Hill District by dining out, at a little Thai Restaurant that served an excellent sweet-and-­sour chicken. A place made joyful by the jovial owner, whom the girlfriend caught with his eyes closed, meditating to the pop-­music in the background. Had him take a picture of us, then took one of him, to his pleasent surprise. A good night out, had an interesting talk and thus learned a bit more of her, by way of her immediate family’s history. A story of severe disfunctionali­ty, and I must say that I do not envy her half or whole of it. There’s a looming fealing things will come to a head; will not think of it much. It’s not my business to think of it, safe but try and be there for her whenever needed to the extent I do not go against my nature, as introvertive as her family sport their outgoing tendencies. But no sense in getting into that now. ~~~ Packed, rested for too little time, then checked out at around three o’clock. On a night-bus to Marble Arch, where we caught a dedicated bus-service to Stansted. Checked in, sat around in the departure area for a beat, then on the shuttle to the gate and up, up and away. ~~~ Four days in London. Four days in which to experience the busiest capital in Europe, as diverse as they come. Must say I liked Paris better for its easy-going way and greater space, but I also think it made a big difference in how I traveled alone at that time. Would’ve found a different impression if I had done the same, this time around, but also believe I wouldn’t’ve experienced the same, and suffered because of it, as I did this one. Did much enjoy the trip; would like to return one day. As favorable a review as they come.

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