Sunday, June 10, 2012

great expectations

The Hyde Park ward starts at 9 am this year, which I won't complain about because so does the Edgemont 6th ward at home. I knew it was going to be tough rolling out of bed with all of this body clock adjustment, but I seemed to do just fine. I got a tie on and hustled over, where I was pleasantly surprised to see that Exhibition Road has become kind of a modified pedestrian walkway! So great. The traffic on that gig used to be treacherous. So many times I almost gave up on church and just stayed across the street at the ice cream corner. Secondly, they've redone the Hyde Park chapel and installed a fancy new feature called air conditioning! It's fantastic! Nobody is fanning themselves with the programs or sweating into the backs of the pews like in the jolly days of yesteryear. And, on top of that, they've taken out the spooky dated 1970 Man's Search for Happiness exhibits from the lobby and replaced them with modern new displays and interactive features. Welcome to the 21st century, Hyde Park ward! And congrats on your new Sunday School rooms downstairs.

I sat in sacrament meeting with the Matt and Kate Kinsel Ngai family. It's nice to sit with a family rather than alone in the back. And it's definitely nicer than when I show up at the singles ward looking like everybody's creepy old uncle. I got to sit between their beautiful daughter Amelia and another little tow headed toddler named Perry who shared his finger puppets with me. Eventually I was putting on little plays with Amelia and Perry and the finger puppets, and before I knew it, sacrament meeting was over! I apologize to the two nice missionary couples from Utah who spoke, but if I wanted to hear people from Utah talk in church I could have stayed home. Anyway, Kate whispered to me that she knows it's summer when Chris Clark shows up in London; I thought that was a nice sentiment. I'm like some kind of summer bird. Almost literally a bald eagle.

At church I met up with Sam Andrus, a friend from home. For some reason I only see Sam when I'm in London, even though he lives about two minutes away from me in Provo. I just kind of assume he lives in London because I only ever see him at the Hyde Park ward. He's here on business, and we had a great lunch at the Kensington Creperie. It was Sam's first time at the Creperie but definitely not mine. I know from the Brittany! (that's a fancy literary way of saying I've eaten the Brittany crepe many times.) Sam and I had a good chat and I was delighted to hear how much he loved Xanadu! A friend for life.

I had a few errands to do, but mostly I found them as an excuse to walk through Chelsea. The weather was really nice, and I like the shops along Fulham and King's Road. Nothing I can afford, but always cool to look at. Incidentally, everything here is done up royally for the Queen's Jubilee and the Olympics. It's really great. I'm not used to this kind of patriotism from the English; I'm proud of them for hanging a few extra flags and getting into the spirit. Even Partridges, my local food shop, is all Union Jacked up. I can only wonder about my friends from the Exeter bookshop where I worked who were so horrified when I told them that, as a child in school, we saluted the flag and repeated the pledge of allegiance. They probably are still horrified, but maybe more willing to hang an English flag in the window.

On my way home I found this great new statue of Bela Bartok. I'm sure mostly people don't know who that is, but he was a Hungarian Composer and I loved to play his stuff when I was taking piano lessons. It's really poky and angry. Remember that creepy soundtrack from The Shining? Bela Bartok!

I visited the Charles Dickens interactive exhibit at the London Museum and thought it was really fantastic. It basically takes you through Dickens' life and the city of London in his own words using film, creative displays, and computerized projections. There were these great descriptions and artworks of Reverend Mr. Chadband, Quilp, Mrs. Gamp, and Uriah Heap and they made them sort of come alive for you. Then you saw this whole city of imagination: dance halls and theatre and lights and sounds. And here's Dickens, the insomniac, wandering the streets in the late night dreaming up all of these characters. You got to see the famous chair and writing desk where he worked on Great Expectations, and there was this really cool short film called "The Houseless Shadow" which showed some of Dickens' favorite walking haunts as they are now, lit up with police lights and camped about by the homeless. I thought the whole thing was fascinating.

And then I walked downstairs and caught the series of London through the ages, struck mostly by:

A quote from young Michael Caine. Why's he so cool?

A swinging 60's Vespa

The original Peter Pan stage costume. 1904. Not green!

An art deco door from the Savoy hotel.

After reuniting (or possibly uniting?) with several of the UVU students at a tasty communal pasta dinner, Dan Anderson, Nick Grossaint and I grabbed Barclay's bikes in the rain and peddled to the Chelsea Curzon movie house to see Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. We were soaked when we got there, but it was worth it. The movie was completely wonderful; probably Anderson's best since The Royal Tenenbaums. It's cute and precious and sweet like all of his other movies, but not as cloying.  You don't get irritated by how twee it is. It has heart, and the last few scenes are heartbreakers. I loved it. So funny, so clever, and so beautifully shot. And I thought about how Wes Anderson movies are like events: I remember where I was, and with whom I was, for each one. Besides Bottle Rocket and Rushmore (my favorite) which I first saw on video, I saw:

The Royal Tenenbaums in London, 2002, with Adam Boulter
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou in Salt Lake, 2004, with Brett Merritt and Eric Snider
The Darjeeling Limited in Orem, 2007, with Lisa (we got grilled cheese sandwiches after!)
The Fantastic Mr. Fox in Orem, 2009, with all my kids (we bought a Christmas tree after!)
Moonrise Kingdom in London, 2012, with a very wet Nick Grossaint and Daniel Anderson

Here's a link to the trailer.

And if you want a good laugh, check out this trailer. I howled through it. I dare you to watch.