Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Sunday was a luscious day. For the first time in I don't know how long I traipsed up to London for the day - so much fun when you don't have to commute and are travelling up for a jol (party/enjoyment for those of you not used to South African slang). I have no idea how I managed to do that daily five or six days a week for four years! Deadly - loud people on mobile phones raised my blood pressure immediately.

I started out with breakfast at St Martin's Lane Hotel. Waiting in the foyer for my Australian friend to come downstairs was rather like waiting in an echoing gym hall with large molars scattered around (apparently trendy tables - see their website for pics). Luckily I had Persephone Books' current reading group title MARIANA to console myself and take my mind off upcoming dental checks. I mention the hotel largely because, rather bizarrely, the restaurant has Malik Sidibe photographs everywhere which seems very random but is a rather nice tribute as he is such an exceptional portrait photographer. Strange thing is that the restaurant is supposed to be Asian and Cuban inspired?!

I had forgotten how glorious London can be when you are visiting, rather than working nose to the grindstone. I strolled along the South Bank from Charing Cross to London Bridge, passing the new Foyles bookshop, the National Film Theatre, the second-hand booksellers under the bridge arches, the Oxo tower, Tate Modern, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, etc. My side of the river was full of folks enjoying the last gasp of a sunny summer; the other side was full of appalling architecture: post-war concrete blocks.

After much joyful catch-up conversation over leisurely lunch and cocktails (shameless, and too early in the day, but who cares?!) followed by coffee in the grounds of Southwark Cathedral, I returned home with a gift from the lovely Francofinn clutched in hand. I wasn't able to attend Ngugi wa Thiong'o's event last month but she had, and had got him to sign a copy of WIZARD OF THE CROW for me. "Peace," Ngugi wrote. Funny that. My Zulu name, Nokuthula, means peace.

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