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Friday, November 22, 2002
A day in London

To inure myself against the cultural shock of going to Australia, I managed to cut short one of my occasional advice sessions for the rich and famous. Yesterday, I gave it straight to HM the Q: 'Get out quick while the going's good'. This gave me time for some culture, afterwards.

First to the Royal Academy to see the extended exhibition: Masters of Colour: Derain to Kandinsky. (Her Maj thought 'Derain' something to do with the stuff that, in Spain, falls mainly in the plain. 'Kandinsky' was beyond her.) What a totally fabulous exhibition - small but perfectly composed. I'm afraid that it closes on the 24th so you've probably missed it. However, you can read a bit about it here.

Then to lunch with the glitterati. I am afraid I have quite fallen out with Lloyd Grossman (for it was he) over his choice of food. Do you know what he had? A burger without the bun. I ask you, who goes to an exquisite restaurant and has something so ridiculous? Next time he's on a food programme, Mrs T., remember what he had for lunch while, across the room I was having truffles and pate de fois gras. (I have had a surfeit of beluga of late so I passed it up, this time.)

Finally to the Albery Theatre for a performance of Macbeth. I have to say that the production was a disappointment. Sean Bean, in the title role, wasn't really up to the job - he's not much of an actor and I didn't appreciate his accent and excess verbal slips. It sounded as though he said 'We have scorched the snake, not killed it'. [Should be 'scotch'd', I think] He got screams of delight from the girls in the audience for all the wrong reasons. Samantha Bond was rather better as Lady M. but, again, not up to the very high standards one expects of the principals in this most beautifully crafted of plays. (I must blog about Macbeth one day. I think that it alone puts Shakespeare very near the top of 'Great Britons' pile.)

Production gimmicks constantly intrude: modern(ish) dress with SAS types mixing with swordsman, and totty instead of old hags for the weird sisters, for example. There was too much noise. Did the theatre merely want to demonstrate the power of its amplification system I wonder? The reviews I had read and seen were lukewarm and I have to concur with the critics. The experience was better than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick, but only just. Here are two reviews which, I think, support my views: Review 1 (BBC); Review 2 (Guardian).

The delight of the day was being able to share it all with The Lady. She is off to Positano for the winter, finding Australians difficult to take. I am always suggesting that she should take people as she finds them but her aristocratic lineage make this transition impossible, I'm afraid. Convicts are not for her.

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