Friday, 7 January 2011

An English Restaurant

Is it just me who wishes this horribly grey and rainy weather would just go away? I am sick to death of smelling like a wet dog every time I get on a tube!

I'm currently on my way back from the City. We're crammed in like cattle and everyone is sweating profusely. I've seldom felt so uncomfortable on the underground.

My parents are off to see the National Youth Orchestra playing at the Barbican tonight. They've been given VIP tickets by Jim and are hugely excited. I met them at Liverpool Street Station, essentially to show them the way from there to the concert hall, but we had hours to kill, so I took them on a tour of Spitalfields and Brick Lane.

We ate in an "English restaurant", which stood out, rather ironically as being unusual. The food was wonderful, but the servings were 1980s minimal, so much that I had to whisk my father off to a beigel shop for a little something extra afterwards! The detour meant I could take the parents down Fournier Street, which has always been my favourite road in the whole of London. It has such a peculiar atmosphere; heavy and ghostly. It can't have changed at all since Victorian Times. It almost smells of those old Jewish streets. For some reason, I find the area deeply compelling, quite possibly because a whole branch of my family were silk weavers in the area.

Bizarrely, I've just noticed the woman opposite me on the tube is reading a magazine, which has a photograph on the front page of artists Gilbert and George standing on the corner of that very street! It's funny how things like that happen.

January 7th 1661, and Pepys woke up to the news that religious fanatics had been running riot through the streets during the night and had killed 6 or 7 people. London immediately went into a state of emergency; 40,000 troops were deployed, and check-points were set up at every corner. Exciting biting, as my Dad would say! Oddly, coming back to the present momentarily, I've just read that the powers that be now expect a terrorist attack to be imminent. 350 years on, and nothing has changed!

Pepys went to the theatre with his wife and brother. They saw a Ben Johnson play and marvelled at a boy actor who was playing an old crone before metamorphosing into "the most handsome woman in the theatre".

Today was the chosen celebration of Twelfth night. There was a lavish party and the "King Cake" was cut. Hidden within the cake, as was the tradition of the times, were a pair of tiny figurines dressed as a king and a queen and those lucky enough to find them in their portion, would have various duties for the duration of the party. Perhaps unsurprisingly it was Elizabeth who found herself with the Queen, for, I believe, the second year running!

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