Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bloomsbury Festival

After returning from DC, I spent the rest of the week shaking off jet lag and culture shock, restocking groceries, and tackling piles of laundry and mail.  As I've mentioned before, living in London is like being thrust into an alternate universe, where reality is shifted just enough that you can function, but the landscape, culture, and language are still a tiny bit alien.  It takes some getting used to, and once you've adapted, it can be a bit unsettling to go back through the wormhole to your own universe for a short time and then find yourself back in bizarro-world again.  At this point, it's easy for us to go to the US and slide back into familiar surroundings, but when we come back to London, it takes me a few days to transition back to this alternate reality.

Thursday I managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to meet some local AWC members for a walk in Wimbledon Common, which helped shift me back into London mode.  Saturday Josh and I tackled some projects around the house, and then saw Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy at our local cinema.  I really wanted to like it, but just couldn't.  About halfway through the movie I gave up waiting for something interesting to happen and just hoped it would be over soon.  Since it hasn't even been released in the US yet, I won't spoil it for you, but I would have rather spent those 2 hours (and $16 each) doing something else.

Sunday afternoon, we took the Tube into central London to catch the tail end of the Bloomsbury Festival.  On any given weekend, there always seems to be some kind of festival going on somewhere in the greater London area, and we've found this is a good way to get to know other parts  of the city.
Bloomsbury Festival
The festival was centered around Russel Square, where they had food and craft vendors, children's activities, and a performance stage.
Beautiful voices!
The neighborhood museums were offering free admission during the festival, so we paid a visit to the Cartoon Museum.  They had a small but comprehensive collection of political cartoons and comic strip art dating back to the 18th century.  I was particularly intrigued by their special exhibit of Dr. Who comic book art from 1964 to the present.
Doctor Who through the years...
Many of the British comics I didn't recognize, but they did have an original "Peanuts" comic by Charles Schultz, and giant cardboard cutouts of Andy Capp and his wife, Flo.
Andy Capp and Flo
The museum closed at 5:30, just as a concert was scheduled to begin at a church across the street, so we decided to check it out.  Here is the description:
Acoustic Architecture
Discover the architectural intricacies of this stunning venue as illuminated by a distinctive musical journey. This performance is the culmination of a site specific exploration to capture the essence of the external and internal. Hannah Dunster and Gail Macleod have been working with a host of musicians on site to create a unique experience which highlights the transient beauty of these sonic environments.
We arrived just as everyone appeared to be filing out of the church.  Did we get the time wrong?  No, a woman handed us two paper tickets and told us to follow the group around to the side of the church.  There we found a courtyard with two cellists and two violinists playing what seemed like random bars of music accompanied by an unseen soprano.  There was no place to sit, so we stood and listened. 
It was interesting at first, but didn't really develop into anything more cohesive.  We couldn't leave without pushing our way through all the other attendees, so we stuck it out until the musicians stopped playing and we were lead back into the church through the back entrance.  Since we hadn't had a chance to see the interior of the church, we followed the crowd inside.  All the pews had been rearranged into concentric circles facing out from the middle.  We sat towards the outside, figuring we'd listen and admire the interior of the church for a few minutes and then slip out.  Unfortunately, they closed all the doors, turned off the lights, and subjected us to the sounds of unseen musicians banging on the pews above us, followed by what sounded like an orchestra warming up.  Not our cup of tea.  Eventually we gave up and made our way out the door as discreetly as possible, celebrating our new-found freedom with dinner at a nearby Lebanese restaurant.

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