Monday, November 17, 2003

London Day #14 Sunday Nov 16

Touristing again - off to Greenwich via the Tube, then Docklands Light Rail. DLR is disconcertingly driverless! Went through East London - ghastly, very dire extruded housing, all jam-packed together. It's hard not to think that pinched, cramped living lead to similar thinking - no wonder soccer (fitba' here) and sport are such an outlet.
Cutty Sark first - huge, graceful, but I couldn't help thinking of the seamens' lot, perched out on ratlines above a heaving sea, to handle all that sail she carried. Think I'll stick to small dinghies.
Went to National Maritime Museum, but apart from some boat and engine -type static displays, it was all a bit too interactive and kid-oriented. So cut away to the Queen's House - a little Inigo Jones (architect, around 1630) gem next door. Wonderful painted ceilings, old portraits, spiral staircase. Gorgeous Canaletto painting of the view up to this house from the Thames.
So many of the 'servants' in London are foreign: Italian staff at the QH, a lot of Africans on the Tube system, a lot of East Europeans through the restaurants. And still they come.
Up to Greenwich Observatory - hill, in parklands, full of people, dogs going crazy (homesickness for dogs enters about here). Saw Harrison's clocks: H1 to 3 are all going, H4 (the watch) is not, visibly. Very moving - beautiful craftsmanship everywhere.
On down the hill into the village, to the Fan Museum - great displays and intricate work in tortoiseshell and bone.
Home via the river launch straight to Westminster. Past about one-third of Londons former dock system (now all housing and some very fine, too). The sheer extent of the docks and London itself has to be seen to be understood: the docks alone underscore what a huge economic flow went through here, and provided the means to build most of what we have seen.
Up to Paddington, where the darned free WiFi has stopped! Hope this is not a permanent feature.

No comments: