On Friday I had a reason to head out: I made my deposit on a Paris apartment and I could now concretely book my fare to Paris. I took the train down to Finchley Road where I transfered onto the Metropolitan towards St. Pancras. I entered the Eurostar ticket booth and realized upon reaching the counter that I was in the business section. I felt out of place — nothing screams business like a black t-shirt with Batman with the cast of “Law & Order” on it — but realized it’d look even dumber walking straight back out, so I headed to the counter. Rather than shooing me away to another section the lady behind the counter was quite nice and accommodating and took my lowly “coach” order. My first impressions of EuroStar are positive. I leave London on the 15th.
Afterwards I headed out to Euston Road and wandered southbound along various side streets towards Sir John Sloane’s Museum. I knew it was down there somewhere and that I’d find it without any hassle. A few minutes in I sat down in a square and pulled out the London atlas I bought a few weeks ago. I was near the British Museum and Sloane’s Museum was a little south east of it. I headed down and took a shortcut through the museum. Free admission is a wonderful thing. I took some more pictures of the Great Courtyard because a dozen or so was not enough to account for its awesomeness.
Sir John Sloane’s Museum was odd. An architect and collector’s old home, consisting of three converted Georgian houses. It has a courtyard with a massive column in it, numerous skylights and yellow windows and mirrors, some nice paintings, and a vast collection of classical artifacts and casts with an Egyptian sarcophagus sitting right smack in the middle of it all. It’s bizarre. A lot can be said about the modern cookie-cutter Ikea aesthetic but I’d prefer that to stumbling over things that people were buried in thousands of years ago when I wake up in the middle of night and go for a glass of water.
I wandered along some more side streets through the legal heart of London, past all sorts of law students and pre-drunk lawyers. It was unpleasant. Then came Fleet Street and I took that to St. Paul’s and then down to the Millennium foot bridge and I returned to the TATE Modern. I was there on my very first full day in London and wanted a new perspective from which to see some of my favourite artists again: Max Ernst’s “The Entire City” landscapes (one of which has been my PSP wallpaper for well over a year), Malevich’s “Dynamic Suprematism,” Joan Miro, Klee, Kandinsky, de Chirico. etc.
As I was heading out I noticed posters for the two temporary exhibits, Cy Twombly and “Street and Studio” photography, and realized they were closing in one day (to clear out for Bacon and Rothko exhibits later in September.) “Fuck it,” I said as I went to the cashier. I’ll part with my money. I have nothing else to do. It was ten pounds per exhibit or fourteen for both. I paid for both and would later regret paying four pounds for Cy Twombly’s stupid doodles. The photography exhibit was fantastic though with lots of great stuff. It’s perhaps a testament to my growing interest in the artform.
I followed the Thames to the Southbank and came upon what I believe was, based on the number of bicycle bound police officers, the starting point for August’s Critical Mass. For the second time here I randomly strolled into that mess. I went to the BFI to check what was playing and noticed Terrence Malick’s “Badlands” was screening in thirty minutes. I crossed off another favourite, “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” off my to-see-on-the-big-screen list at this same venue two weeks ago, and had to do the same for “Badlands.” I bought an expensive ticket.
Before I knew it, a simple trek to the station to buy some train tickets turned into a ten hour adventure around the city. And I think about this kind of day and how I started the year. Up to April 2008 I was without a passport, never having left the continent in my adult years and never having solo-travelled for longer than a week. Four months later, I’m booking train fare to Paris while hopping around galleries and museums in London, waiting on my second, European, passport to be processed. It really was that sudden. I’m not sure what to think of it all quite yet but I do dread the November return. The winter is going to be frigid.de Chirico – The Melancholy of Departure