Sunday, November 12, 2006

Improving the world

We went to the Hayward Gallery's How to Improve the World: 60 Years of British Art exhibition yesterday and had so much fun being surprised at every turn by the eclectic mix on show. Anish Kapoor's Untitled, 1995, swallowed me into its hollow, silver centre as a little girl laughed excitedly at it by my side; Patrick Caulfield's Dining Recess, 1972, soothed me with its cool, impersonal, cartoonish simplicity; Roger Hiorns' Nunhead, 2004, had two BMW engines encrusted with copper sulphate crystals and spun me back to my school days; Peter Doig's Red Deer swirled in front of my eyes in a metalic haze of reds and golds and oranges and reminded me why I love painting so much; Glenn Brown's Decline and Fall reproduced Frank Auerbach's dense, heavy painting of the same name with such fine, meticulous brushstrokes that it looked like a printed reproduction; and Steve McQueen's Bear, 1993, film was powerfully, and homoerotically charged.

But the most pleasure I had was nostalgic. Richard Long's Stone Circle and Sarah Lucas' Self-Portraits, 1990-1998, took me back to my undergraduate days in Goldsmiths College, London; and David Hockney's We Two Boys Together Clinging, 1961, David Bomberg's Trendrine, Cornwall, 1947, that under-rated expressionist Leon Kossoff's thick, encrusted Children's Swimming Pool, Autumn, 1972, and Frank Auerbach's dark and muddy Euston Steps - Study, 1980 took me all the way back to my teens and my first ever exposure to modern art. It's amazing to me how much of the art I was exposed to when I was a teen was British, compared to the literature I gorged on which was largely American.

At Waterstone's bookshop on Piccadilly, afterwards, I browsed a book on wedding bouquets because I have no idea what type of flowers I want to walk down the aisle with save for the fact that they have to be white, and M bought The Game Cookbook by Clarissa Dickson Wright. The book covers recipes for partridge, pheasant, quail, grouse, wood pigeon, duck, goose, venison, deer, elk, moose, rabbit, caribou and wild boar - eeeek. He also bought a book on poultry cooking.

Then we hot-footed it for an early evening showing of the movie The Prestige at the Odeon West End in Leicester Square. Set during turn of the last century London, the movie is about aspiring magicians Robert Angier and Alfred Borden - sworn ememies determined to out-do each other and who both learn their craft under the renowned illusionist Milton. Featuring Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine and a very excellent and surprisingly far-from-wooden David Bowie (photo right) as reclusive inventor Nikolas Tesla, the film's hefty 150 minutes rushed by in a tightly wound, complex pattern of twists and turns that left me breathless and thoroughly entertained.

Failing to get into our favourite Japan Centre nearby, we ate a lacklustre dinner at Taro on Brewer Street, Soho, where we had tuna and California sushi and then M had beef teriyaki and I had crispy chicken teriyaki.

Back at home, we watched a couple of episodes of The OC, season 3 - my newest boxset addiction. I realised as we were watching it that over the past few years I have bought and watched quite an array of TV boxsets as it's much easier to watch them in my own time than regularly on TV when they first air. So far, my collection includes: Sex and the City, seasons 1-6; Six Feet Under, seasons 1-5; Northern Exposure, seasons 1-4; The Waltons, season 1; Buffy the Vampire Slayer, seasons 1-7; The X Files, seasons 1-10; The OC, seasons 1-3; and the most excellent Curb Your Enthusiasm, seasons 1-5. That's not to mention complete season cartoon boxsets such as Futurama and Family Guy. We're watching The OC in manageable chunks over many weeks, as we did Curb Your Enthusiasm; but left to my own devices, I can easily set aside entire weekends watching back-to-back episodes, which I did on my own, of Sex and the City, Buffy and The X Files.

Today, it's Sunday, and we've eaten croissants from Yasir Halim bakery whilst reading the weekend FT; I've researched wedding readings and wedding music online; we've been shopping; M has put chicken wings on the boil in a large pan with celery, garlic and carrots for chicken soup and he's prepared a roast chicken stuffed with lemons for me to put in the oven later while he's watching an Arsenal match at the Emirates with his Dad; I'm doing the laundry; and now I think I'll sort out some CDs and put some photos into albums before settling down to a few episodes of The Waltons before M gets back.

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