First, you should be grateful to me for the blue skies. The secret to London’s great weather, as I have recently discovered, is me coming over and NOT taking my shades with me. Leaving home my sunglasses. I am getting back home on the 6th, and I will start packing on the 5th, so please expect clouds and a bit of rain then.
May in London is a month of bare trees, flexing their muscles in the expectation of waking up, and frantic flowerisation of all available flower beds in an attempt to speed up the coming of summer.
Potted trees can even give an illusion of summer:
Gardeners do their best at manicuring nature:
and an occasional blossoming tree gives the hope that winter is not coming even to a hard-core fan of the Game of Thrones:
Now, once you are immersed in the childhood season of summer, you can appreciate the meaning of the Fourth Plinth monument in Trafalgar Square:
Let’s get a bit closer:
The two Scandinavian artists who made the sculpture, “the image of a young boy astride his rocking horse encourages viewers to consider the less spectacular events in their lives which are often the most important”. Do we look back into our childhood often enough to understand who and what defines us as adults? Do we appreciate the spring work of gardeners when we jog through the Regents Park in summer?
I am not sure that the sculpture is actually doing the job it was meant to do by the artists. The boy is too personalised, too not-really-me to kick-start me thinking about my personal “less spectacular” events that were the most important. Still, the boy is nice enough to provide a dramatic conflict with all the other, military-inspired monuments there, which is a relief anyway.
And once we touched the theme of childhood, you simply must go and see this play at the Duchess Theatre in London:
Two stories from Alan Bennett performed by a brilliant cast. Stories about him and his parents. This poster would make Freud happy, for the slightly ghostly image of the mother looming in the background is a perfect illustration to at least some of his core ideas.
It is a typical British play. Ironic and funny at times (actually, many times), it talks about sad things that run very deep. A Russian writer would kill off at least a couple of old ladies to drive home the point, but here the maximum you get is a heart attack and Alzheimer. You are not shown anything extraordinary, but what you see makes you extraordinarily emotional.
You see how the desire to live a different life, to get more from life than it has in store for you, the dissatisfaction with what you have can poison everyone around you and yourself, at the end. You become a witness to things many people experience in their childhood – which leaves them poisoned and unhappy for the rest of their lives. This play suggests you have to look back, at least occasionally, at the happy and sad moments of your childhood. Why? Well, to avoid unconscious unhappiness. It can’t tell you how to be happy, of course, but it suggests one way NOT TO BE UNHAPPY.
This is one of the things I love about London, where nature, sculpture, and theatre can get all bundled up together into something extraordinary, ready to be enhanced and polished by any of the establishments sporting this sign over their doors:
It is better than James Bond, who was only licensed to kill.