In order to procrastinate from writing my dissertation take advantage of some of the premier cultural events that London has to offer, I went to a performance of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall the other night. This was part of a classical music festival sponsored by BBC called The Proms and there are inexpensive tickets to events all summer long. Everything about the performance was amazing, including the fact that I got all dolled up for no one but myself and it felt fabulous. Heels people, I’m talking heels and makeup and a hairdryer!* The building is sort of scallop-shaped (not the shell, the part you eat) with a dome on top, and very elegant. You can see some pictures of the inside and outside of the building as well as some history of the architecture here to get an idea.** As you can see, it’s almost a theater in the round, and you have a fantastic view no matter where you sit. It must be quite amazing to perform there because it looks as if you could be swallowed up by the audience. There are just layers and layers of people all around you!
The program was Wagner’s Rienzi Overture, Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 2, and Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 New World. My favorite was Dvorak which surprised me a bit. The conductor (Andris Nelsons) looked like he practices fencing in his spare time, or maybe engages in some kind of Viking reenactments involving sword fights because he got so into piercing the space in between him and the first cello seat with his baton.
After the concert I decided that since it had been about 2 months since I had eaten red meat I was entitled to some steak, so I headed over to a place nearby (Glouchester Road). So you know, this is Kensington, a seriously ritzy part of town by Hyde Park with all the embassies. So I’m sitting at a table outside, drinking a glass of Prosecco because they had a special for 4 pounds, writing in my journal about the concert because I’m cool like that, and a woman sits down at the table next to me. White-blond hair with bangs, maybe 55 years old, jeans and a white fuzzy vest of some sort, orders her 2nd and then 3rd glass of champagne. Let’s call this woman “Julesie.” Julesie decides that I am a person she can talk to and proceeds to talk at me for the next 45 minutes, saying the most outrageous statements all the while rubbing her nose. Hint: Julesie didn’t exactly have a cold. I decided she couldn’t possibly be interested in anything I had to say, so I just sort of sat there, smiling and nodding appropriately, letting her get on with it whilst making mental notes of everything the said. Julesie was on a roll and it was too good to stop her. Here are a few of the choicest things that came out of Julesie’s mouth which I immediately wrote down when I got on the train:
“Moscow is the best place if you’re looking for fur. I got a gorgeous chinchilla hat from a market in Moscow. And a pair of chinchilla Uggs. Because, who cares? The chinchilla is dead and now I have a pair of Uggs.”
“The Royal Family of Qatar was just throwing money at me like it was toilet paper. But I didn’t like Qatar. Even though I had a fabulous villa it was boring and there was too much dust.”
“There’s so much riff-raff around this area, I don’t think I’ll come back. I only came here to go to the pharmacy.” This comment was timed just as a type of Mercedes Benz that I’ve never even seen before drives by the Bentley is parked across the street. 3 doors on each side? Seriously?
After she made a comment about people looking over my shoulder at the menu on the wall behind me and I translated what they said for her because they were speaking in Spanish: “Oh, you understand Spanish because you’re American. I don’t like the whole Spanish thing. It’s so ugly.” I think it is unnecessary to convey my reaction to that horrible gem.
“Ugly men are just ugly, unless they are rich ugly men. Then they’re intriguing.”
The part that worried me and made me all self-conscious was that she thought I would be the type of person that would agree with her on this stuff, or at least be receptive to it! I mean, I was all dressed up, but still. What does that say about me? Granted I could have made a point in telling her a piece of my mind about what she was saying, but I chose not to take the high road and erred on the side of seeing how far she would actually go. Plus she was slightly unstable.
As my friend Katonka noted when I relayed the story, “Damn dude. That’s crazy. You’re way nicer than me. If some crazy coke head sits next to me I tell her to piss off.” And you know, she would, too.
What a way to end an evening. I’m sticking to Lewisham. Kensington is too frightening a place to hang out.
*Nevermind that I had to wipe a year’s worth of dust before I could use it.
**Unfortunately my camera has been MIA for the past week, so I have no pics of my own to share.