This blue marble

– and yet it spins


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Somewhere between poetry and insanity

wigmore

“Occupation is essential. And now with some pleasure I find that it’s seven; and I must cook dinner. Haddock and sausage meat. I think it is true that one gains a certain hold on sausage and haddock by writing them down”

(Virginia Woolf’s last diary entry before her suicide)

Somewhere between poetry and insanity tonight. Alice Coote sang Virginia Woolf’s diary entries, and letters from 19th century patients locked up at a mental illness asylum. “Strange Productions” was the aptly named title of the insanely poetic letters, commissioned by Wigmore Hall from Nico Muhly.

Wigmore Hall is a constant favorite. Not because of the (also insanely) beautiful venue, but because of the director and his creative team who commission modern classical pieces with a flair. Never bored here, although sometimes mindlessly enthralled.

(London, United Kingdom; January 2017)


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Old English pubs

eaglechildBusiness lunch at Eagle and Child with a quantum physicist, discussing medical sciences. Dinner at the Bear Inn, a pub from 1242, among 4,500 club ties (including one tiny panel in the ceiling for women’s ties). Instead of rowdy drunk people, there were ladies dining and students playing chess with glass pieces.

Only in Oxford. oldpub(Oxford, United Kingdom; January 2017)


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Detour in the Other Place

oxford-5

“I wonder anybody does anything at Oxford but dream and remember, the place is so beautiful. One almost expects the people to sing instead of speaking. It is all—the colleges I mean—like an opera.”

(William Butler Yeats)

One freezing January week I made a detour to The Other Place, as those who went to Cambridge call Oxford (and vice versa). Fortunately I was able to break the news over Facebook, otherwise some of my Cantabrigian classmates would have probably made multiple attempts at lynching me.oxford-3But during that week there was no time to dream and remember. There were studies, 8 hours a day, with smart people from all around the world. There were too many age-old pubs. There was afternoon tea with champagne. There were colleges to discover.oxford-2And there was even a futile attempt at fencing. Apparently, women wear a madonna bustier – hence the busty look. Another mystery solved. It also turns out well-mannered fencing men have serious trouble fighting a woman – not because of chivalry but because they must shamelessly attack the bustier.

(No photographic evidence but trust me, I did wear the sour-smelling sweaty old gear including mask).oxford-1(Oxford, United Kingdom; January 2017)


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Two faces of London

London-7Sporadic smog and frequent blue skies. This is London today. 50 years ago it was the other way around. As we circled above London in the busy morning air traffic, I thought of the generations of Londoners between the ramp-up of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century and 1960s when the Clean Air Act began to take visible effect. These people did not see much of a sun unless they found their way out of the city. In 1952 during the Great Smog, thousands of people died and thousands more were made ill by the toxic filthy pea soup that hung over London for 4 days.

Today there is the chance to see a blue sky over London, even without rising a kilometer into the air. Of course the view from up here is much more stunning.

London-6(London, United Kingdom; October 2015)


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Hello again lovely Cambridge

Cambridge-2Happy to be back in Cambridge, where punting, flower skirts, panama hats, and Pimms with lemonade never go out of style. Where dozens of church bells play their own melodies every Sunday morning, and where cows grazing mingle with people walking dogs in the park.

Cambridge-1Happy to be back at my old school, and to have a reunion with fizz and formal hall style dinner, and to hang out by the pub by the Mill Pond in the sunshine, just like in old times. Sometimes it is a lucky and wonderful thing that schools and classmates do not change.

Cambridge-3 (Cambridge, United Kingdom; July 2015)