London Sounds

London 2023

We took the train down to London a couple of weekends ago—for the first time in five years, in my case—to see our son perform as part of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain at the Royal Festival Hall, a proud moment and an impressive evening of music, as was their first 2022–23 concert in December. The following evening I stayed on to see their second performance in Saffron Walden, which was recorded by BBC Radio 3 (and is available online for the next few weeks). Stravinsky’s complete “Firebird” ballet was every bit as thrilling a second time; I only dimly remembered hearing the suite on one of my parents’ World Music Club cassettes as a teenager, so it was a revelation to hear the entire piece in person, with what has to be one of the most exciting finales in classical music. W. had a prominent role in the second half, too, on the bass drum. The reviews have been great.

While in London we visited the Design Museum in Kensington and a Hockney exhibition/installation at the Lightroom near Coal Drops Yard (newly redeveloped since my last London visit in 2018), as well as enjoying some excellent buns at Cafe Bao. It was too late to get back up to Edinburgh on the Sunday night, so W. and I stayed on for a day for some London sightseeing, starting at the National Gallery and ending up at the British Museum, and walking between them via Chinatown, Soho and Charing Cross Road. A chance to add another instalment to my many photographs of the city, as shown in the gallery above.

This is as good a time as any to unveil another of my retrospective galleries, with the rest of my uncollected London photos. The first half is from our stop there in early 1998 while travelling around Europe, when I was showing J. some of the familiar sights I had loved in the 1980s and early 1990s. The second is from when I was there on my own in August 2000 between Madagascar and San Francisco, as recorded here at the time. All those photos of the millennial City of London with its shiny new buildings now look half-finished compared with the same area today—not to mention the ill-fated Dome.

London 1998-2000

30 April 2023 · Journal