I Should Have Done This Before
I just went online to see whether Soyoung has blogged yet – she hasn’t, so I’ve got a bit of time on my hands. I checked the readers’ comments, as usual, and I thought it was about time I spoke direct to some of you. I should have done this earlier, especially to people like Hyoshil and Paulraj and Farida and lots more of you who have posted comments so regularly.
The first was from Monica in Brazil. Monica, my favourite drink is caipirinha (and I just love saying the word). Here, in London, it is extremely popular. Purely in the interests of social science, you understand, I have discovered that the best caipirinha in London is made by the bar staff at the ICA (Institute of Contemporary Arts), in The Mall (very near Trafalgar Square and The British Council’s headquarters). They have a Brazilian barman and a Polish barmaid both of whom make excellent caipirinhas. However, they are not cheap. £6 is a lot of money for such a small drink, even if it does taste like something the gods have made especially for you.
Then Diego, also from Brazil, asks about eating out in London. Personally, I don’t think it’s expensive. I am by no means a rich man but I guess we can afford to eat out once or twice a week. I also have breakfast out, at a local coffee shop, most days. That costs around £5. If Lucy and I, for example, go out for lunch we can expect to pay between £30-£45 for the two of us. Of course, if we went somewhere very special it would be a lot more expensive. Lucy and I are both members of the ICA and we often eat at their excellent restaurant, and go to movies and exhibitions there, for a little bit less than it would cost if we were not members.
Diego also asked a bit about Lucy’s future. She will read History of Art at university and then she wants to become either an art detective (finding fakes, I guess) or a museum curator. Last week I was in Bond Street, in central London, where there is a (private) gallery which has two paintings by Marc Chagall (one of my favourite painters) and one by Picasso, for sale. I went in and asked how much. There was a slim, elegant, young woman sitting behind an enormous, expensive-looking desk. She was wearing quietly expensive clothes, discreet jewellery, gorgeous shoes and practically no make-up. She spoke with a soft mid-Atlantic accent (although I’m pretty sure she was British) and she told me, almost in a whisper, that if I was interested in the Chagall I would need about two-and-a-half million pounds (about five million US dollars). I thanked her very much, took one final longing look at the painting, and quietly left the gallery. That is the kind of young woman I think Lucy would like to be. And then, of course, there’s her crazy, wild side – but I don’t think she’d thank me for telling you about that!
Hyoshil will pay for our big party if she wins the lottery. How generous! Wouldn’t it be good? I don’t suppose you’d fancy buying a Chagall, too, would you, Hyoshil?
Jill Huang is another faithful regular, and I liked her questions about Beijing. Jill, I’d love to find that old vegetarian restaurant I last visited almost 30 years ago, where everything is made to look like meat. My first visit, if I returned, would have to be to The Forbidden City, at dawn on an autumn morning, before it is opened to the public. I don’t have any close friends in Beijing, but I have a dear old friend, Professor Rao Dujun, in Xi’an. He was fantastically supportive of me when I first arrived there and has remained a wonderful friend – even if we don’t have much contact nowadays. Another good friend, Jiang Dengzhen, still teaches at the Foreign Languages University, in Xi’an. He was an excellent teacher, a good friend and had a nice sense of humour. Other Chinese friends now live in the United States.
Adriana, with your question you expose my complete mathematical stupidity. Yes! Please! Post the answer with your next comment (I think I’ll try to get hold of the book, though. Thanks for that.). Is it three-and-a-half bottles to one friend, two full and three half-bottles to another, and two full and three half-bottles for me? Or am I too stupid even to see that that is wrong? Don’t answer that last question. Can’t I just drink some of it first?
Farida made some lovely comments about my house. I don’t know why I didn’t include a photo of my bedroom. It’s quite a nice room, I think. I’m not sure I’ve got the time now. I tried moving the plants, Farida, but I’m afraid I prefer it the way it was. Anyway, a huge ‘thank you’ to you and everyone else who has posted comments (and not just today).
OK, I’ve got to go. I’ll check out Soyoung’s blog later this afternoon and will reply tonight (before going to the movies, to see Venus).
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