Monday, 27 June 2011

Ooh - shiny!

Remember in my last post I mentioned spotting a secondhand Yamaha YAS62 sax in Chamberlains music store in Haslemere?

It's now resting gently in its stand in my living room.  Yes, gentle reader, I went back to the shop two days later, gave it a good blow in their practice room (which was more like an unsoundproofed storage cupboard, frankly) and decided that it was infinitely better than the student horn I've been using since the 1980s.

Here she is, in the case she came in, which was pretty beaten up.  Fortunately they gave me a free lightweight Reunion Blues gig case which has a strap so you can carry it on your shoulder or across your back.

Taken outside in the sunshine, on the bridge.   She's in very nearly almost perfect condition, there's just the smallest dent above the thumb rest on the back, but she was secondhand so small imperfections are to be expected.

Just look at that beautiful, almost Art Deco-style, swirly, curvy one-piece key guard that just swoops around the bottom and up the front of the bell - gorgeous.

The sax is an instrument that's crammed with pads and buttons and levers, but it is actually easier to play than it looks - if you can play a recorder or, perhaps, a clarinet, then you can play a sax.

It's maybe not terribly clear in this photo (you can click on the pics to make them bigger) but the bell of the YAS62 is engraved with swirls and stars.

It's a professional standard saxophone as opposed to the student version that I've been using.  This means that it's been built to a great level of accuracy, there are more keys and levers than my old one and - what surprised me - it's appreciably heavier.  This indicates to me that the metal is thicker which will affect the tone of the instrument - a richer, heavier sound.  It sounds like an alto sax should.

Some more photos, I think - indoors, this time:

The buttons here are Mother of Pearl, and these are the ones that are played with the left hand - index finger on the top button, middle finger on the third one down and the ring finger on the bottom one that is at an angle.  Your little finger operates the collection of four keys (that are in a sort of circle arrangement - called spatulas, I believe) below and to the right (in the picture) of the bottom Mother of Pearl key.  The three levers on the right, a bit higher than the spatulas, that look a bit like snakeheads, are called palm keys and, as the name suggests, you operate them with your left palm.  There are similar sorts of key arrangements that you operate with your right hand, below all this lot.

I suppose it is a bit complicated, really.

One more look at her on the sofa.

The sound is noticeably (to me, anyway) different from my old sax, although I'm not too sure about the mouthpiece.  There are any number of combinations of style and size of mouthpiece that can be used with at least 5 different thicknesses of reed, all of which will affect the sound you make, so that's a whole other area I suppose I ought to wade my way through.

Anyway, I just thought I'd show you my new acquisition - the single most expensive thing I think I've ever bought (possibly more than my first ever car!)  I'm definitely getting it insured, probably by joining the Musicians' Union.

So all I need now is some gigs to play it at!!

Monday, 20 June 2011

A week of ups and downs....

I felt very miserable on Saturday.  The Lovely Husband and I were at the craft fair in Alresford, Hampshire.  We go here about 7 or 8 times a year.  When we first started there, about 4 years ago now I should think, our takings were really good, easily just into three figures almost every time.  Then the economy died on its arse and my takings there have become erratic.

But guess how many things I sold on Saturday.


One single, solitary pair of earrings.

For £8.50.

We sat there from 8.15am until 4.30pm and I took just £8.50.


Plus the table space cost me £16 so, effectively, I made a loss of £7.50, not to mention the cost of the petrol to get there. Worst craft fair I've ever done, anywhere.

Double sigh with added tutting.

I almost wish I'd sold nothing at all, but I still have that joy to come.

I know I can't force people to buy my stuff, especially when it's so unnecessary to one's everyday life - as my mum says (she's also in the craft game, she does fabulous decoupage on stuff) "We're not making sausages", in other words, people are more likely these days to spend their hard-earned on food and fuel than on decorations for their house or person.


It just all seems like a massive waste of time.  However, I shall plod on, not least because it will get better towards christmas - and as tomorrow is Midsummer Day, it's all downhill to christmas from then on - but I have a large stash of beads, pearls, crystals and semi-precious stones that I need to use up!  Plus I'm registered with the tax people in order to pay National Insurance Contributions so that my full state pension is guaranteed, and so I need to produce annual accounts for them, which means I need to sell stuff in order to have something to put in said accounts.  I don't make enough profit in order to pay any tax, mind you, but at least I'll get enough of a pension when I'm old and grizzled to be able to buy my tins of cat food. So that's okay.

Secondly, today I had to go to the dentist to have a big job done.  One of those ones that they insist you book an hour's appointment for.  I have to have an 'on-lay' which is not, apparently, the same as an 'in-lay' (of which I have one) or a crown (of which I also have one).  It's sort of half-and-half.  It's a big bottom left  molar which has a decades-old filling in it that's starting to leak, and there are hairline cracks appearing on all four side, so an on-lay sort of holds the tooth altogether.  I'm typing this with half my face feeling all fat and numb, hoping the anaesthesia will wear off soon so I can have a cup of tea without fear of dribbling it all down my matronly shelf-boob, or biting into my tongue.

Actually, my dentist is terrific - although he ought to be, at the prices he charges.  It being a private dental clinic it is, of course, more like a fancy spa than those terrifying NHS clinics of your childhood that were all painted institutional green and smelled of antiseptic.  At my clinic they have a hypnotherapist available to help you get over your dental fears, and an in-house reflexologist (for some reason).  All the hygienists wear colour co-ordinated scrubs, and they pipe Brian Eno's Ambient music into the treatment rooms.

I currently have a temporary crown thing on the tooth in question and have to go back in 2 weeks to have the new porcelain on-lay fitted, and that tooth should last me for at least another 20 years.

Just down the road from the clinic is Chamberlains, a large music shop.  I've never been in there before so I thought I'd wander down there for a poke around.  It's a big shop, filled with all sorts of instruments, including brass and woodwind.  And I espied, in a display case, a secondhand saxophone of the exact make and model that I think I'm after!  For a reasonable price!  Sadly, having a numb face meant I would not be able to take it for a test blow, but I think I may well come back in a few days and ask if I can try it out and see what I think.  Excited!!!

I texted Bev (my lovely sax playing friend) about my find in Chamberlains and she rang me when I got home to tell me that she's had a brilliant idea about another musical venture that she and I can do, but she wouldn't tell me what it was!!  Such a tease!!  She said she wanted to think about it for a few days yet, and then we'd meet up for a coffee and she'd tell me what she thought.  She did ask, though, what kind of music I most enjoyed playing - I told her that I actually enjoy most things but it's more a case of whether I'd be capable of playing it.

Intriguing.  I shall keep you informed.

So, a week of ups and downs - Alresford = bad; dentist = bad but necessary and not too horrendous in the end; potential new sax located = exciting; Bev's plans = intriguing.  Plus it's Glastonbury on the telly this coming weekend which TLH and I always enjoy watching.

How's your week been so far (and it's only Monday!)?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Emerging from the darkened room...

So the gig last Friday night was brilliant.  Wedding receptions are always fun events because everyone is (generally) happy and up for a good time, so you could probably just stand there and play on a comb and paper and people would still dance.  If they've had enough to drink.

This had been quite a posh wedding, by the looks of the outfits.  The bride looked lovely and had on a very nice frock, and the main blokes were in tails.  None of the guests looked like they'd stepped out of a Big Fat Gypsy Wedding - not that there's anything wrong with that - but those receptions or parties are the ones that are, generally speaking, more likely to get a bit lairy and fighty which, while probably a bit entertaining to watch from the sidelines, can tend to ruin the atmos somewhat.  And then you can't get out of the carpark due to the ambulances and police cars.

The reception was being held in the undercroft restaurant bit at Clandon House.  I didn't take any photos (not really the done thing if it's not your wedding or you're not a guest) but I found some on the intertubes:

Front of Clandon House

Inside the Undercroft (note the fine mustachioed pillar!)

Dancing in the Undercroft

As you can see, the ceilings in the Undercroft - which is basically a tarted up vault or cellar - are low and all the surfaces are hard.

There was no platform - let alone a stage - for the band to stand on but this isn't actually a problem.  However, a proper PA system had been hired with monitors for everyone and, this time, I got my own microphone rather than having to share one with Bev, and there was proper lighting!  This all meant that the sound, from the point of view of the band, was fabulous, because we could all hear each other and I was able to ensure I was in tune and sounding less like a honking goose than last time!

Mind you, it got bloody hot, mostly caused by the lights, I think.  At one point the sweat was running down the arms of my glasses and as I bent forward, dripping like a faulty tap all over my boobs!  Which sounds quite porny really but wasn't.  I'd sorted out a better outfit to wear for my second gig so I looked less like a middle-aged Surrey housewife who had wandered by accident onto the stage, and more like I ought to be there.  I got myself a 50s style top - in fact, this one:

Which I wore with a leopardskin pencil skirt:

Black fishnets with black kitten heel sandals with very pointy toes (a fab charity shop find):

I did my hair a bit like Mary Tyler Moore, a flippy 60s style, a little like this:

My hair's actually a darker shade of pink than this but the style is almost exactly what I did.

A fantastic look, I think you'll agree, but - in reality - only if you're half the weight I currently am.  Admittedly, due to reasons (more or less) beyond my control, the exercising has had to take a back seat for the last few weeks so I'm going to have to ease myself back into it again, plus I'm going back on a semi-Atkins diet.

I did the full, proper Atkins a few years back and it worked really well, I lost over a stone (14lbs) but I couldn't keep up the strict removal of all carbs, so they started creeping back in and now my weight's back where it was.  And it's too much, really.  I ought to lose a couple of stone but I know how hard that is, so I'll be happy for just one for now.  Trouble is I'm fighting the menopause (which is notorious for weight gain) and I come from a line of very big women - I have one aunt who has had a gastric band and another who ought to have one - plus the polycystic ovarian syndrome means I have trouble with insulin resistance which converts all sugar to fat - resulting in it being really difficult for me to lose weight.  And, yes, I do know the whole eat less + move more = weight loss but for some people that doesn't seem to work - when I started running a couple of months back, I was running at least 2 miles three times a week, going swimming as well, and cutting down on my food intake and in about 6 weeks of doing this guess how much weight I lost?  Not. One. Pound.  Seriously.  And how demoralising is that?

Ooh, I've gone off on a tangent about weight loss, haven't I?  How very dull for you all.  My apologies.

Anyway, the gig was fab, the audience took a little bit to get warmed up but once the alcohol started flowing and the buffet got underway, they packed out the floor and there was plenty of dad dancing going on.  I mostly remember the lovely little dark-haired girl - who couldn't have been more than 3 or 4 years old - who was absolutely fascinated by me and Bev playing our saxophones.  She stood right in front of us, with a very serious little face, scrutinising us thoroughly, for almost half the gig.  I kept smiling at her but getting no smile back, so she was obviously in deep thought mode.  The feminist in me rather hoped that she was taking on board the fact that it is perfectly acceptable these days for females to play in bands, doing something else other than singing - I can imagine the other little boys at her school (who are all naturally misogynistic at that age) telling her that 'girls can't be rock stars - only boys!' and I hope she remembers us and puts them right.

Licensing restrictions meant the music had to be finished by 11.30, and it took me another 45 minutes to get myself packed up and sorted before I left.  Fortunately the venue is only about 15-20 minutes from home so I was sitting on my sofa with a cup of tea by 12.30.

Churt Village Fete was the following day and I woke up feeling really rather crap.  I hadn't really had enough sleep and, despite not a drop of alcohol passing my lips the previous  night, I felt rather hungover.  Playing on stage, in a hot sweaty room, and getting one's funk on, is a strenuous business but because you're enjoying it so much, you don't feel it at the time.  Certainly hits you the next day, mind.  And I'm old enough to be a grandmother these days so my recovery time is not what it would be for a 24 year old.  But, luckily, Churt Fete is only for the afternoon and we didn't need to get there until 12 noon.

We were extraordinarily lucky with the weather - it had been peeing down all the week before, and, indeed, there had been some spots of rain on Saturday morning, but it held off entirely for the afternoon, before starting to rain again in the evening.  The good weather certainly helped to bring out the punters - this was the third year I'd done a jewellery stall at Churt and there were definitely more people there than in previous years.  And they were in the mood to spend money - hooray!  My new sax fund has been swelled appreciably.  The only bad thing about doing these village fetes is that we always, ALWAYS consume too much.  Both TLH and I came away from this one feeling most definitely poisoned, and it was all our own fault.

We just can't help ourselves - we started at about 1.30pm with a fantastic carrot cupcake with cream cheese frosting and a less successful cranberry muffin each from the cream tea stall.  Then at about 2.30 the scouts' barbecue started serving, so I had a hot dog with onions, mustard and tomato sauce and TLH had a cheeseburger with all the trimmings.  At about 3.00 we each had an ice cream - toffee flavour (with lumps of real toffee) made by local producers Meadow Cottage Farm who use cream from their Jersey cows.  It's spectacularly good stuff.  At about 3.30, TLH disappeared and returned with Pimm's for us.  Then, at about 4.30, as everyone is starting to pack up, someone from the WI came round with a fantastic home-made Black Forest Gateau cut into slices saying that it was left over and did we want a slice for 25p each?  How could we not?  It was unbelievably good but, by then, I couldn't finish my slice (not surprising really).

And on top of all that, TLH had already made a visit to the WI cake stall early in the afternoon to choose a cake for us to take home.  I'm looking at it now, sitting on the table, still covered in clingfilm and untouched.  It's now 4 days old and I'm not sure that we're going to eat any of it.

So, yeah, Atkins diet for me for a bit.

So Churt was on Saturday and Sunday was meant to be Chiddingfold Festival.  We've done Chid for the last 6 or 7 years and it's never been rained off, but I think this year was the first.  The weather report for Sunday looked like torrential downpour from sun-up to sun-down.  But, as you know, British weather can turn on a sixpence so we decided to leave everything packed into the car and reassess in the morning.  However we only got as far as Saturday evening before deciding that, frankly, I was too exhausted to do Chiddingfold and that we'd give it a miss this year.  The organisers don't lose out on any money, though, because I'd had to pay for my pitch in advance, but I reckon it was worth the loss to me of £15 so that I could have the day off.  I was a bit conflicted, though, because last year I'd made a lot of sales and if the good people of Chid were in as much of a spendy mood as the good people of Churt had been, then I was waving goodbye to a darn sight more than £15.  But TLH had said he didn't want to do Chid and I knew how tired I was, so that was that.

And then it absolutely chucked it down all Sunday afternoon so we ended up feeling quite smug while watching old films on the telly in the dry and the warm, knowing we'd made the right decision.

A busy weekend then.  And I have another craft fair next Saturday so this week I'm going to have to make more stuff for that, plus there's always work to be done down the allotment and it seems I've been sweet-talked into trying to find new gigs for the band!

Ooh, that reminds me, if any of my lovely readers know of any small/medium sized live music venues near them that might be suitable for us, then please leave a message in the comments.  Just to remind you of what we sound like, this is the Fugitives website (which hasn't yet been updated to include me!) - really, anything you can think of.

Busy, busy, busy!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Bloody Hormones.....

I am busy this week.  Very busy. 

My next gig with The Fugitives is this coming Friday.  It's a wedding reception at Clandon Park, near Guildford, and that's all I know about it just now.  But that's okay, I'll be told in the fullness of time exactly where I have to go and at what time.  In the meantime, the Fabulous Beverley popped over yesterday afternoon for us to have a run through of the sax parts.  She plays tenor and baritone, and I play a lowly alto.  This will be my second gig with The Fugitives and we only had an hour or so to practice together before the first gig, so we're determined to sort out our harmonies, and solos, and so forth.  We only managed about 90 minutes before her phone rang with another request for a taxi - she drives a taxi for a living at the moment while trying to find a job more closely aligned to the music industry.  But what we managed to sort out sounded good.  I mean - really good.

My confidence is getting better each day.  We're trying to get at least one more session in before Friday and, this time, I'm going over to her place, which I can't wait to do as she's just moved into a houseboat on the Basingstoke Canal as a housesitter for a year while the owners go travelling!  I'm so jealous!

So there's that.  And then my brother asked me to make him some cufflinks to go with the suit he's wearing to a family wedding (on his wife's side) this coming weekend.  This has taken a stupid number of days to accomplish - he wants purple ones.  Purple dichroic glass is a fickle beast.  I made two pairs of cabochons - one more blue-purple, the other more pinky-purple.  I couldn't capture the colour differences enough in a photograph (this is common with dichroic glass) so I decided to just post the two pairs to him so he could compare them to the purple dress his wife is wearing as head bridesmaid (or whatever they're called - Maid of Honour? I dunno).  I posted them Friday, just before he told me he needed them by Wednesday evening at the very latest, so fingernails were bitten to the quick while waiting (and hoping) that Royal Mail could get them back to me in time.

They arrived this morning so I was able to glue them to the cufflink backs and, hopefully, they'll be properly set by Wednesday.

And not only do I have a gig this coming Friday, but I have Churt Village Fete on the Saturday and Chiddingfold Festival on the Sunday to do.  This will be the third year at Churt but something like the sixth at Chiddingfold.  Admittedly I've not sold very much jewellery this year but I still feel like I've got to make some new stuff just in case the villagers go beserk and buy everything I have.  Not likely I know, but you never know.  So I've been making some new stuff - if you're interested, it's on my VenerableBead website

As well as this, the annual inspection date for the allotments has been announced as 28 June and I've been trying to get down there as often as possible, practically every day, each time for at least a couple of hours.  It's exhausting, but I need to weed and cut the grass and get all my seedlings in  and, at least, make it look like it's being cultivated so they don't throw me off.  It's bloody hard work but the benefit is being able to eat your own vegetables, which we did last night - harvested and cooked my own broad beans and they were damn yummy. 

So I was down at the allotment this afternoon and I remembered to take my iPod with me in order to listen to some music I downloaded a few days ago.  The first album was 'Just Another Diamond Day' by Vashti Bunyan, a folk singer from the sixties who has recently had a resurgence in popularity.  And it almost instantly reduced me to tears.  Her voice is so unbelievably pure, and the songs are full of innocent yearning to return to the land, she sings about travelling on the road in a gypsy caravan and rescuing animals on the way.  And I sobbed and sobbed.  It was completely unexpected and took me utterly by surprise. 

I'm not a crier.  Never have been.  I can vividly remember having a word with myself when I was about 12 years old and deciding, there and then, that no-one would ever see me cry.  It's a sign of weakness that I won't allow myself.  And mostly I've stuck to that over the years, except when confronted with severe emotional pain (death, divorce, infertility) or when blindsided by hormones.

I remember when undergoing my various rounds of IVF, in each cycle there was at least one day when I found myself uncontrollably sobbing my heart out for no good reason at all.  It transpired that this was always during the phase when the injections were putting me into artificial menopause.

And, of course, these days there's nothing artificial about my menopausal symptoms, so all I can assume is that this caused my sudden fit of inexplicable sadness and the clear sweetness of Vashti Bunyan's songs just pushed me over the edge.  Such as this one, 'Jog Along Bess' - have your hankies ready:

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Guildford Castle

Today it's raining.  Hooray!  This has been an incredibly dry year so far, with more than a hint of 1976 about it.  The soil at the allotment is little more than dry dust these days, which is just blowing away in the strong winds we've also been having.  So all told, I'm quite happy that it's more than a bit damp.

I digress.  Sort of.  It may be raining today but yesterday was lovely.  Warm, blue skies, fairly breezy and just lovely, really.  TLH suggested that we popped into Guildford for the morning, mostly to get out of the house but also because he had a new phone that does contactless payments that he wanted to play with and I quite fancied visiting the wool shop and getting some balls of Rowan Kidsilk Aura (I hear the sighs of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from fellow knitters/crocheters) to start making a shawl in a particular Japanese flower pattern.  This won't mean a damn thing to those of you not of the yarny persuasion but let me just tell you that Kidsilk Aura is made from 70% kid goat mohair and 30% silk, and is as soft as the belly fur of a long-haired cat.  And because it's mohair, there's a kind of haze around it which makes it even more fluffy.  The particular Japanese flower design to be crocheted took the intertubes by storm a few months ago but it's taken me until now to get myself sorted.

I'm going to make something that looks a bit like this, but in different colours (the ones I've chosen are plum, a pale sugary pink and a more vibrant pink):

And the shawl will eventually be this size:

I digress again.  Well, it's Sunday, it's raining and there's nothing but 'Carry On Cabby' on the telly so my brain's wandering a bit.  Anyway, it's a nice shawl, innit?

So, to get back to yesterday, we puttered off in the Little Car to Guildford and I went to the wool shop, then we wandered down to the Apple Store and stroked the lovely, shiny Macbooks and iPads.  TLH used his phone to successfully pay for something small from Pret a Manger (hooray!  It works!) and then we decided to go for a coffee in Tunsgate Square.  For once we decided to sit outside the square and while I was waiting for TLH to return with my latte and one of the cafe's yummy chocolate croissants, I took this photo on my phone:

It's perhaps not terribly clear but in the centre right of the picture there's a tree with yellow leaves, yeah?  You see that?  Right.  Well, behind that and slightly to the right of it you can see part of a tall building with what looks like a cage on top? Got that?  That's Guildford Castle, that is.

When TLH returned and we'd drunk our coffee and nommed our croissants, I said to him, 'Do you know, I've lived in this area for 44 years now and I've never been in Guildford Castle'.  'Neither have I', he replied.  I told him the Castle was set in some nice parkland with old-style municipal flower beds and we should just nip over there and have a look.

So we did.  Sadly, the beds hadn't been fully planted up yet so I didn't bother taking any photos but as we were wandering around, we decided that, as we happened to be there, and it was a nice day, and as we hadn't anything pressing to do, we might as well actually go inside the Castle itself.

If you're not fussed about history/archaeology, then you can skip this part.

The Castle was originally built by William the Conqueror (or possibly his brother, Odo) not long after 1066.  It's a traditional square keep, built on top of a motte (a mound) and surrounded by a bailey (grounds around the motte enclosed by a wall).  The keep had a ground and first floor with the entrance located in the first floor to aid in defence. It was most likely used as a private apartment for the King. On the first floor there was a main chamber, a chapel, and wardrobe with latrine. A second floor was added shortly afterwards containing a two-seater latrine (so you chat to a mate while both having a poo!  Classy....). The roof of the building was made of lead and the inner walls were covered in plaster and then whitewashed.  It was built on the lower slope of what is now Pewley Hill and is quite close to the River, which it would have overlooked at the time.

Various Kings of England were involved with the castle, both in living in it and fortifying it from time to time, but it was never attacked.  If you want to read more about it, you can check out its Wikipedia entry.

The ground floor has a small information area with display boards telling the history and models showing what it used to look like.  There's an outdoor staircase that goes up to the first floor and the main entrance to the little Castle.  It's basically just a large single room with high ceilings with three teeny, tiny rooms leading off.  One is thought to have been the King's bedroom but, honestly, it was so small there was barely enough room for a full grown man to lie down.  Then there was a large inglenook-style fireplace that had another small room leading off which may have been a wardrobe with the loo (i.e., a shute to the outside) inside.  The third very small room was the chapel which may have been used as a jail cell at some point.  The prisoners carved graffiti into the walls (click on any picture to make it bigger):

From this chamber on the first floor there's an incredibly narrow metal spiral staircase that takes you up to the roof.  This is the metal cage that you could see from my first photo.  The views over the town are pretty good but, for some reason, I didn't take any pictures of it.  To be honest, I wasn't thinking of doing a blog post about the castle at this point so didn't consider that other people might like to see.  Sorry. But I found one on the intertubes:

(That's Guildford Cathedral on the hill in the distance. Yes, the same one that caused Damien the young Anti-Christ to freak out in the original film of 'The Omen'.  It'll do that.)

These, however, are my pictures of the view looking the other way, towards the Surrey Hills in the distance:

From up on the roof we could see down into the Castle grounds and spotted what looked like an interesting sculpture tucked away in a corner of the gardens, so we went back down the spiral staircase, through the main chamber and back outside.

To get to the sculpture, it looked like we needed to pass along an open tunnel that connected the Castle grounds to the bowling green:

(Not my photo but shows entrance to the passageway)

(This one is mine, though - further along the passageway)

The passageway goes up slightly and when you emerge at the other end, you find yourself in the gardens where we had seen the sculpture from the top of the Keep.  Turns out it is a representation of Alice Through The Looking Glass:

Guildford has a strong connection with Lewis Carroll/Rev. Charles Dodgson because he rented a large house which butted up to the Castle grounds for his sisters.  Although he never actually lived in Guildford himself, he visited his sisters frequently, and this is, apparently, enough of a connection for the worthies of Guildford to lay some sort of claim to him.  To be honest, they haven't made much of a song-and-dance about this - as far as I can see there's just this sculpture in the Castle grounds and another down by the river that looks like this:

It was a really nice, impromptu little trip out, just being a tourist in my own town!

Friday, 3 June 2011

No Buyer's Day for me then......

I haz a sad.

The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition of 2011 opens in a few days time and I'm still waiting for my Buyer's Day invitation.  Like I've had for the last two years.  It's still not arrived.  I can only imagine they've somehow forgotten to put it in the post to me.  It surely can't be anything to do with the fact that I've not bought anything directly from the Exhibition for the last two years but have, instead, gone directly to the artists - can it?

Last year when TLH and I went we said we wouldn't go again next year (i.e., this year) because Buyer's Day is always packed and there's no air conditioning, so you're fighting your way through the crowds to try and get into the Small Weston Room to look at paintings/prints that might actually fall within your price bracket, while trying to look at the little catalogue and simultaneously try and hold a pen (to mark which pictures you like in the catalogue) and a handbag all the time trying to ignore the relentless trickle of sweat running down your back and into your bum cleft.  Classy, eh?

But now it's here again, and I don't have a free invitation, and I'm looking at stuff about it all online and feeling terribly wistful.  I also can't afford anything this year as I'm saving up for a new saxophone.  But - dammit - I like looking at art.  And I know that the second most popular blog posting I've done has been to do with the Summer Exhibition, so I know my readers like me going too.  (My most popular blog posting is the one on how to make blackberry vodka, so at last my readers have the priorities straight). 

I do think I want to go, but it will be on an ordinary day.  I'm going to try and persuade TLH that we should drive the Little Car up to the London, rather than go on the train.  This is because it costs so much now to get there by train - easily approaching £40 return for the two of us, yes, that's off peak at the weekend too - and the Little Car is so economical that it would probably cost a quarter of that in petrol.  Even taking into account parking costs, it's got to be cheaper.  However, the downside is that he wouldn't be able to drink so a boozy lunch/dinner would be out of the question.  Still, I'll put it to him and see what he thinks.

We used to drive up to London a lot, in our 'courting' days (what a fabulously quaint expression that is...).  We'd just become a couple and used to decide to go up to London to catch the midnight showing of some film or other on a Saturday night, stopping off at Dunkin' Donuts just off Piccadilly Square at about 2.30am and getting home an hour later.  We've not done that in years, and it was such fun, driving around London at midnight in the summer, with the windows open, listening to the sounds and smelling the smells of a capital city at play.  Anyway, I'll see what he says.  And if we do go, I promise I'll take sneaky photos again for you all.