On Friday I went out for coffee with daneres, whom I last saw in 1989 (!) We chatted for several hours over tea and gateau at the Victoria cafe (a new discovery on my part). It's very comforting that we get on well now, when our original connection was so long ago and when there was a huge age gap between us.
I was planning to make a post about how much I like living in the digital age, because being online allowed daneres to get back in touch with me, and LJ allows us to keep up with eachother's lives with almost no effort. And in the afternoon I wanted to get hold of some journal articles to read in preparation for starting work next month. So I showed up at the University Library, logged on to a computer there, downloaded a reading list from my email, and then downloaded pdfs of all the papers I wanted from online journals to my memory stick. Which is so incredibly easy and convenient even compared to how I would have gone about retrieving those papers five years ago. But when I got home the internet was full of interesting stuff which distracted me from writing a post about how much I love the internet...
I met up with megamole and company to ogle the Three emperors exhibition at the Royal Academy. It is both gorgeous and really informative; this is actually my second visit, though I didn't get round to writing up the first. My opinion is that anyone who finds themselves in England between now and the end of the exhibition in a month's time should try to get there. It's everything an exhibition should be, both in terms of the presentation and the content.
Things that are cool about it: official portraits of the Imperial family alongside the original formal robes they wore for the portraits! Examples which illustrate the Chinese discovering European art, so pictures which mix both Chinese-style and European style perspective, Chinese-style treatments of European subjects and European-style treatments of Chinese subjects, Chinese-made astrolabes and clocks and other such European scientific instruments, an engraving of the mirror image of the Brighton pavillion, a folly in the Imperial gardens built in the European style. Some antiquities from the collection of one of the emperors, which are startlingly old, and also the tenth century BCE originals are displayed alongside the eighteenth century CE artworks inspired by said antiques. A huge boulder of carved jade, taller than me but with detail down to the mm level. My absolute favourite thing is the long scrolls, the length of a fairly large room, which depict Imperial processions. And they have hundreds and hundreds of tiny little people, some of them watching the procession, some taking part in side attractions such as opera shows and food stalls, some just getting on with their own thing in the vicinity... and each little person, an inch or so high, has their own facial expression and clothing and, just wow.
London on the day after St Patricks day and with the Irish rugby victory was, well, full of loud drunk people in green. (I make no assumption that any of them were actually Irish, mind you.) There was also an extremely random demo, which I think was meant to be anti-war but also included banners for everything from "Free Palestine" to "Support the Norwich Association of Strawberry growers". I don't like demos at the best of times, and I have reasons to be suspicious of some of the Socialist Worker / Stop the War crowd.
I hate that my first reaction on seeing the demo go by was "eek, scary" rather than "yay, people are protesting about the war, maybe the government will pay some attention if enough people make enough fuss about it". I hate that I can't tell whether someone is waving a Palestinian flag because they genuinely care about Palestinian independence, or because it's just a cause du jour for the trendy left, or because they have swallowed the line that Israeli actions in the Territories are part of the same problem as American and British actions in Iraq. Or because they are anti-semitic infiltrators who are taking advantage of people in the former categories and using these attitudes as an excuse to cause trouble for Jews. So anyway, when I saw the demo I changed my route to get out of its way (and consequently got mildly lost in some of the back streets around there), and hid what I was wearing that would have made me visibly Jewish. Whereas I am in agreement with the main point of the demo, and I would have been happy to join it if I hadn't been scared. I hope unnecessarily.
Anyway, our party (myself, megamole, cyberlibrarian and wryelle) did manage to find some decent places to drink that were not full of yobs. The Golden Lion, where I had some very drinkable cider. Then, since we were looking for food and the Golden Lion weren't serving just then, we headed into Soho and ended up in the Warwick by Picadilly Circus. It's a bit verging towards the trendy winebar side of things, but that meant it was classy enough not to be showing the rugby or encouraging its clientele to get pissed in loud obnoxious ways. And it managed to stay the right side of pretentious. We shared a platter which would have served as a pretty good introduction to pub food for someone unfamiliar with the concept.
Then to lethargic_man's place for a very pleasant evening and Sunday morning. He fed me exceedingly well, including birthday cake and pumpkin soup and other good things. And we chatted lots, and generally I think we're at the point of being just as comfortable together as when we were going out, which is really pleasing. I still don't know how to deal with him when he's in a bad mood, but then I never did. But the general conclusion is that I really like spending time with lethargic_man. Yay.
Finally I ended up chez fluffymark. We've been meaning to get together for ages and we keep failing to arrange it. But anyway, we had a very pleasant chat over some rather intense Japanese jasmine tea, so that was very nice.
For this week, I'm going to the Carlton this evening, and Borders tomorrow, so do come along if you happen to be in the area and want to see me.