in London, the names…

Everywhere the names remind me where I am and who I was. At the Tate yesterday, I was looking at the little map guide and saw a description of an upcoming installation, a response to the “grand spaces of the Duveen Galleries.” The artist — Christina Mackie. And I smiled, because Christina was my friend in high school. She was an artist then, with such a gift. I went to university and she came to London, to (I believe) St. Martin’s. We kept in touch for a few years; I visited her here twice, once in a huge squat she shared with other art students. Her installation — “inspired by her interest in pigment and the use of colour” — opens the day after we fly home in late March. So now her name will be part of the list I remember when I think of the Tate: her work part of the canon…

Our little local discovery today was Lambs Conduit Street, named for William Lamb who donated money in 1564 for the restoration of an Elizabethan dam in a tributary of the Fleet River. The street is charming. Walking along it, I was surprised to see the home of Persephone Books. I have a couple of their beautiful editions of (semi) forgotten women writers, Ethel Wilson among them.


I’d have gone in to pay my respects and no doubt buy a few books but it’s Sunday so it was closed. Instead we went to an afternoon concert at my favourite church, St George’s Bloomsbury (built by Nicholas Hawksmoor from 1716–1731), a building so beautiful I think I’d almost become a Christian to go there regularly,

And speaking of wishful thinking, there’s a little mews near Lambs Conduit Street called Doughty Mews —


— with the loveliest houses, roof gardens, an olive tree, and even an Egypt Exploration Society, founded in 1882. So no shortage of things to keep the mind active. And, oh, we ate one of the best dinners ever at Ciao Bella: salads of arugula and thin shaved Parmesan; mushrooms stuffed with cheese, breaded and deep-fried; rabbit with braised fennel and paparadelle; rack of lamb with gorgeous potatoes; two elegant slices of torte (one with pistachios and one lemony, with pine nuts). To drink? A dark and full-bodied Aldiano Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.

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