A few weeks back we had arranged a weekend trip to London just to get away from Aarhus a bit. And planning ahead I had found a weekend with the maximal payoff in terms of concerts! Beyond that thought we hadn’t really planned that much, and mostly wanted to “go have a weekend in London” as if we were living there.
We arrived in the city at about noon and went for lunch at a pub across the street from the hotel. It went a bit outside my tradition of starting each countries with its “national” dish (fish ‘n’ chips in England, currywurst in Germany, baguette in France, and hotdog in Denmark) but pub food is a close second in the UK. And I was actually pleasantly reminded of the surprisingly decent food you can get cheaply at the pubs: it hasn’t changed or been influenced much since my time in Edinburgh, and it came with a pint.
Afterwards we went for Death: A Self-portrait at the Wellcome Collection, but in all honesty the venue was more exciting than the exhibition. Also visited a few years back, and with its free entry, nice cafe, and good museum shop it’s a nice place to hang out. This time I realised that there’s also a second floor but that’ll be for next time to explore.
We had a tea and a crumble at the cafe, and picked up some fish ‘n’ chips on the way back to the hotel. Having not looked exactly where the Buzzcocks concert was going to take place, we were surprised to discover that it was in fact a good deal outside the city and hence had to take not just the metro but also the regional train. When we finally arrived, The Mick Jagger Centre looked more like a primary school than the great venue where we were at last to see the Buzzcocks. They played a great concert though, the guitarist seemingly the one with most punk left in him, and the drummer looking like it was about time to retire. However, we had to cut it short by the last to tracks in order to reach the train station in time: unfortunately these were Ever Fallen In Love and, I believe, What Do I Get? That obviously was a bit of a let down, but given how far we were into the country side it seemed silly to risk the last safe ride back.
Headed for Camden Market and got an English breakfast at a pub first thing there. The markets have gotten bigger since I was there in 2008, despite the story that parts of it caught fire. It really is an impressive market, not matched by any in Paris for instance. Had a curry for lunch, and a bit arbitrarily picked up Eleven Kinds of Loneliness by Richard Yates.
We then headed to Tate Modern for their William Klein exhibition. On the way we ran into some kind of Father Christmas event consisting of several hundred people dressed up for the holidays and just basically hanging out. We later saw that they had marched through London, at some point also occupying Trafalgar Square.
Great exhibition by the way, and very easily to see that he’s one of the good ones. Particularly liked how good he is at filling the frame and make the photo stuck you in (later wanted to try the same at Brick Lane, but my attempt earlier in Boston was perhaps more successful).
For the evening we decided to get last minute tickets for a play, and ended up with The 39 Steps at the Criterion Theatre — it was what looked best on the list at the box office, but turned out to be a surprisingly good show! Very good adaptation from the movie with clever use of meta language; highly recommended. The underground theatre itself was very cute, and with an elderly guy in front of us with a very contagious laughter it couldn’t have been must better. We left wishing we could go more often, even if it’s three times or more the price of going to the cinema (the actors seem to perform a more honest job anyway).
Starting again with a market, we went to Brick Lane for a late breakfast/lunch. In no rush, we walked up and down the market, bought a few items, and got hungry again looking at all of the different options. Has it become hipster? Yes, but it is a nice place.
The concerts were great. A bit loud at 110 dB compared to the usual 100 dB, but energetic atmosphere and impressive venue (an old theatre I suspect). My girlfriend remembered listening to Cock Sparrer on cassette tapes in her teenage years, and for me they were a welcomed discovery — am now looking forward to Shock Troops arriving in the mail. Having instead listening a lot to Rancid I was very happy to finally see them alive and they didn’t disappoint. Should have prepared a bit better for the sing-along though.
Finally, we flew with Ryanair but talked about not doing that again. Why their initial price might be lower than the other airlines, their price curve is also a lot steep: as soon as you want a bit more (such as checked-in luggage) the price goes up quickly and you end up paying the same (if not more) than with a decent airline — yet the airports used by Ryanair are still far away, the departures are early in the morning, and they are not that good at managing overcrowding.
Oh by the way, Songkick turned out to be a splendid tool for researching which weekend to go! It gave me a combined list of all planned performances by the artists of my choosing six months ahead — and brilliant integration with Spotify.