I don’t know if London has a Memory Lane, maybe running off Drury Lane or Petticoat Lane, but it felt like I was walking it yesterday, all the way to St. Martin-in-the-Fields where I attended noon concerts in 1976 when I was working in Wimbledon and trying to get to know this amazing city. The noon concerts are free (though a donation is welcome and given the work this church does with the homeless of London, we were happy to give one) and I’d come by train on my day off to visit one or two favourite paintings in the National Gallery — Pisanello’s “The Vision of St. Eustace” was one and I hope to see it tomorrow: imagine a young girl rapt in front of this image —
and then sit quietly in the church, waiting for the concert. Yesterday we were near the front, in a pew on the right hand side of the church, waiting for Antonio Ballista to accompany Marcello Nardis as he sang pieces by Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert (I loved “Guarda che bianca luna”, maybe because of the moon we see each evening), and seven of Michelangelo’s sonnets set by Benjamin Britten. How beautiful these are and Nardis gave them a dramatic and luscious performance. This is the window that formed the backdrop:
We had a ittle time to wander in the National Portrait Galley too, though we didn’t join the long queue for the Lucian Freud exhibit, much as I’d like to see it. We found a little French brasserie in which to have a long and delicious lunch. I had a fresh green pea and mint soup followed by warm goat cheese salad with olive crostini; John had smoked salmon on toast with arugula salad followed by grilled smoked sausages on Puy lentils. Warm sour bread in a basket, water in a stone jar. And a bottle of Chateau du Poyet Muscadet Sevret et Maine Sur Lie, crisp and dry, to make us suitably relaxed for the walk back through Covent Gardens where a young woman sang Puccini and a guy did handstands and walked across the cobbles upside down.