Super quick trip to London these past two days and it was just lovely. Well, the Tuesday conference, for which I went, wasn't. I won't go into it. You know the drill. Putatively about sustainability, really about how to present the appearance of sustainability, and deeply depressing. But yesterday at least was a wonderful day.
We started it with a trip to the Francis Bacon exhibition, as planned, and that was marvellous. They'd got nine rooms of his paintings from museums and collections all over the world and I found it revelatory to see them all, together and themselves close up; there were so many things I'd never noticed from reproductions and visits to individual works at different galleries. And the F-word was like a pig in shit, of course, loving Francis Bacon as he does in that special cannibalistic way artistic types love each other. And in just the sort of thing my archivist brain likes, a tenth room had pictures and notes and sketches from his studio, showing crumpled figures stuck and painted back together, prefiguring the ghastly shapes on the paintings in the other rooms. Photos of his circle there, and I was interested to see that George Dyer was a piece of ass. Exactly the sort of aubergine-nose thuggy looking type I go for and then feel guilty about, just like Francis Bacon. Ah, lapsed Catholics and our rough trade . . . thank God, in all seriousness, I've found an aubergine-nosed thuggy looking type who's also the kindest man in the world. Anyways, it was a really well put-together exhibition. Not to be missed, if missing it can be avoided.
And then, after the F-word departed, a lovely afternoon and evening with Rodelinda, who I hadn't seen for an embarassing number of months - 1.5 years, really. We went on a trip to a lovely big bookstore next to the university, and I bought three - a Stephen Jay Gould book about the millenium, Robinson Crusoe, and Oliver Twist. Now this post is long enough and I have to run to the office and deal with being a professional so I can get home in time to let the vet tend to my cat, so I won't go into books on trains, much. Just let me tell you this one absolute fucking horror story. On the way to London and during the non-pertinent bits of the conference I read Nathaniel's Nutmeg, which I'd picked up in the Oxfam shop here on a whim, since I didn't know much about how all that shit in Indonesia and how everything had worked out with the spices and the Dutch and the British. It wasn't the most academic book ever but it was an excellent and compelling read, and left me in a Boy's Own Adventure sort of mood.
So Rodelinda recommended Robinson Crusoe while we were book shopping, and after bidding goodbye to her and to her neuroscientist darling at the train station - more on him and his fascinating projects later - I dove into it. Rollicking good read, so eventful - so many things happen apart from getting stranded on a deserted island, at the beginning. And finally, just when I got to the moneyshot 40 pages in, when the brutal waves have pushed-pulled him to the shore of his island, the edition skipped to page 198, and was all fucky order-wise after that, and completely missing pages 41-89. I was so angry I could have shat myself. Instead I started reading Oliver Twist, which was compelling enough to distract me from my fury. But the sting in the tail is that Robinson Crusoe had been the only book I'd paid full price for at the shop, Oliver Twist and the Stephen Jay Gould book having been marked down to less than 50% of their normal price. Ugh. I'm still pissed off.