Friday evening was enlivened by a Skype chat with Jennifer in Auckland to discuss our upcoming trip to the Middle East. That in itself doesn't necessarily spell a lively evening, but a contributing factor was the news that she and Andrew have decided to get engaged and married in short order. The ceremony is the day before they fly out from New Zealand, so now I'm officially going on my friends' honeymoon! We'll meet up and begin our travels in Amman, Jordan, on the 23rd. Luckily there won't be a problem with backpackerly room-sharing, mainly due to Andrew's prodigious ability to vibrate respiratory structures such as the uvula and soft palate to create a concatenous reverberation of cataclysmic proportions. (He has many other qualities, fortunately!)
Both Saturday and Sunday mornings I managed my usual jog along the boundaries of the Common, and on Saturday I went early enough to avoid the massed Harriers onslaught that often clogs the tracks I run on. I keep a keen eye out for rogue foot-sloggers, because the hardier (and stupider) types enjoy executing random overtaking manouevres whilst running towards me at full tilt, and I'm not really a committed enough jogger to bear a dislocated shoulder from a head-on clash.
On both mornings the dappled leaves of the trees were shot through with sunrays illuminating the dissipating morning mist, and the paths were covered with the crunching detritus that points to autumnal change, despite the clement weather.
After my Saturday run I met Steve, Fiona and Helen at London Bridge for a day-trip down to sunny Brighton, where the temperature was even higher than London. We fuelled ourselves for an afternoon's wandering by lunching in a cheery South American-style cafe that provided excellent pizzas for a mere £3. Soon afterwards we strolled out on the pier, wandering through its garish attractions. Then we ambled westwards along the stoney beachfront, before loitering in the sunshine by the old ruined pier and briefly dipping our toes in the chilly English Channel.
To top the day off we visited the splendidly exotic Royal Pavilion, the oriental palace erected by George, the Prince Regent, who later became George IV (1820-30). I'd visited once before in 1997, but it's still a superb sight, particularly the awesome spectacle of opulence in the banqueting hall with its enormous crystal chandelier suspended from the claws of a fearsome eastern dragon. Alas, they still don't permit photography inside, ostensibly to protect the furnishings and fittings from wear and tear, although we did wonder if the no doubt substantial payments rendered by a bride and groom having their pictures taken inside somehow prevented this wear and tear from occurring.
The next day I paid a house call to Battersea to visit Raewyn and Mike and their new son Lucas (now 5 1/2 weeks). I'd seen him a month or so ago in the Chelsea & Westminster, but he was a bit tube-y back then. Now he's got the frog leg kick going with his spindly little legs and is a bona fide milk-drinkin' machine, so he's probably growing in an Incredible Hulk-like fashion.
After the visit I took the train into town and saw Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day at the PCC. Featuring Frances McDormand as Miss Pettigrew, a down-on-her-luck governess in pre-war London, who chances onto a job for an American would-be starlet, Delysia (played by Amy Adams), who's having man troubles - to whit, she's got three of them, and only one of them really loves her, but he's the one without a fortune to his name. You can see where that's going, obviously, but this is a frothy confection of a film, not to be taken too seriously. Adams is excellent as the flouncy, kittenish Delysia, and McDormand does a perfectly serviceable English accent in a role that might not have been perfect for her. My favourite line from the film, in which Delysia reveals the extent (or lack thereof) of her movie career to date, captured the screwball '30s comedy feeling of the movie's first act:
Delysia: ...and I was in Four's A Crowd. Did you see that one?
Miss Pettigrew: Oh yes! Who did you play?
Delysia: The crowd.
This week is another busy one: there's Felix and Gavin's farewell on Thursday, and a bunch of us are going to the Hadrian exhibition at the British Museum after work on Friday. Can't wait!