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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A very long evening on the South Bank

Last week we attended the Anthony Gormley exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. Now modern art is usually not to Agent Triple P's taste; he prefers nineteenth century Baltic landscape and neo-classical salon painters. Nevertheless, the prospect of an evening with B from Frankfurt enticed him along and so did the opportunity to visit the Skylon restaurant.

The most famous exhibit was Blind Light a large fluorescent room full of mist which means that when you go inside you cannot see more than about 18 inches. Most disconcerting! Agent Triple P, as first one in during our special showing, thought it an ideal opportunity to molest B and check out the texture of her new dress. Unfortunately, B was not convinced by the installation's opacity and soon scooted off into the murk. The whole experience was rather like an afternoon in Vancouver in November.

The most effective exhibit was Event Horizon a series of body casts of the artist placed largely on rooftops around the South Bank and, indeed on the other side of the river. Agent Triple P would have found a more interesting body to cast he thinks; someone like Scarlet Johansson perhaps..

Most of the art was, as to be expected, rather pretentious but we liked the blocky people of Allotment II which were a series of concrete blocks modelled on the actual dimensions of 300 Swedish people from Malmo (I wonder if Swedish A from the Marriot hotel was one of them?). Great confusion was caused by our guide who referred constantly to Malmo being in Switzerland. All was explained when we disovered he was a Canadian.
Most of the time we were trying to get used to B's rather severe haircut. We preferred her longer hair but this one does give much better access to her neck.


Following the exhibition, we walked past the old Shell building, where a sinister Gormley lurked on the roof, to the newly renovated Festival Hall where we were, yet again, impressed by the subtle to the point of invisible re-modelling.

Our dinner destination was the new Skylon Restaurant a cavernous expanse that runs almost the full width of the Hall and has a fabulous view of the river when the blinds aren't down. We had a rare sunny evening and the heat generated from the late evening sun was enormous until they lowered electronically controlled blinds (which of course meant there was no view of the river anymore). Never mind, it meant that B removed her jacket although given the garish nature of her frock perhaps it would have been better if she had not. To be fair this rather wide-angled picture was taken with my phone's camera and rather foreshortens the poor girl.


The decor was dterminedly fifties and the restaurant was packed. Even though a large proportion had been taken by my hosts there was still huge dining area.

We had Cornish white crab meat, baby tomato and coriander salad and avocado mousse followed by tournedos (over-done as usual) with spinach Lyonnaise, baby carrots and Madeira sauce. Accompanying this we had, we have to say, the best Muscadet we have ever experienced. Now perhaps that is not saying much but it was a particularly good example and improved our mood somewhat given that B was being so resolutely undemonstrative. Fortunately, the service was terrible with not nearly enough staff to cover the tables and it got so late that B and Agent Triple P made their excuses and left at about 10.00 pm. We scooted along to the Marriot, where B was conveniently staying, and disappered up to her rather floral room overlooking the Houses of Parliament for a bottle of Pol Roger (which B had conveniently had put on ice earlier in the evening). Out of sight of her clients B relaxed considerably and we managed to dispose of the ghastly frock (and, indeed everything else).


Agent DVD is always after photographs, not realising that most women would rather put a bucket over their head than be photographed. We did, however manage to snatch (!) the following of B's best feature. Unfortunately my phone does not have a flash (hence the rather strange cast) but that is an advantage for covert shots like this!

Agent Triple P very quickly realised he was going to miss his last train and although it was very tempting to stay overnight (significant inducements were offered) he had to get back to pack for his visit to Bath the following day and had to take a rather expensive early morning taxi home. If we had planned better we would have just packed for an extra night but that would have been rather presumptuous.

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