Saturday May 8th.
When I came home from London late on Thursday night, David told me that a botanist had been round to say we have a very rare daffodil growing in the churchyard. It is white with a tiny smudge of yellow at the very bottom of its petals. I thought some of the ones in our garden were pretty rare as well, having watched a daffodil feature on “Gardener’s world” a couple of weeks ago, – you never know with these old Victorian gardens what will come up next, but they have all gone over now.
David rather un-conservationistly picked a specimen of our very rare daffodil which is now on the window sill in the kitchen being admired! Not quite as bad as the vet I visited once in Bolivia who had stuffed all the rarest creatures and birds in the country and had them in his flat in La Paz (bizarre!), but getting there.
London was like Paris or even somewhere like Lisbon with everyone sitting out along the south bank of the Thames in the now commonplace hot and sunny blue sky weather. I have found a wonderful place to stay, in an extended guest flat attached to a Church behind Westminster Abbey which one shares with the Vicar of the parish. There are four guest rooms, and it is the stuff of novels. There is a golden cocker spaniel called Oscar,who reminds one of Luther’s “little golden dogs” he wanted to see in heaven. Twenty four guardsmen on their black horses, but not in ceremonial dress, trotted past at 7.30 am. I wonder if one of them was the naughty horse from the wedding! They were out for morning exercise I suppose, clattering down Gt Peter Street. I always rush to the window when I hear horses.
My day on Thursday was filled with visiting more Somalis, this time from the northern Somaliland. I was accompanied by a very bright girl whose family had come from Bangladesh, – her story as well was fascinating and totally positive about the human condition. These encounters cheered one up so much, compared to the negative inevitability of the finding and killing of Bin Ladin. One friend’s facebook page quotes a moving and sensible passage from Martin Luther King about the waste and regret even of an enemy’s death. Stoical and implacable peace campaigners outside the House of Commons had their posters on high citing the 100s of thousands killed in the wars. If 1 % of what we spend on weapons could be spent on peaceful development, then those figures of death and wasted youth would come down. One of the first things the Somalian eminent person had done was to set up skills training in carpentry, welding and bookbinding for boys at risk of being lured into militias. More than 1000 have now been trained and set on course for productive, peaceful and happy lives.
Wednesday night I had been to the Festival Hall to hear the London Philharmonic. Excellent cheap seat in the balcony which gives one a bird’s eye view of the entire orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s 5th symphony, Brahms Meistersingers overture, and Strauss four last songs. I thought the orchestral soloists were exquisite, but the soprano came across as one big fat lady who delivered the songs con belto. I was pleased to see that the Times reviewer agreed with me the next day about that. They are so gorgeous but should have an aching intimacy about them which was completely missing. There was a come and sing Messiah rehearsal going on in the ground floor lobby of the Festival Hall before this concert. Opportunities to make music abound everywhere in London. Handel would have been so pleased if he came back! Next week I may go to hear John Lill play Beethoven in another concert, a flier for which was thrust into my hand. One could get used to this city living!