What a wretch I am or possibly the better term might be scoundrel. Here I sit all warm and snug in the drawing room of my club whilst my fellow "culture seekers" group are sloshing about in wellies under brollies following the path of the execution of their dead kind, Charles I.
I thought I was made of tougher stuff, but the lure for me was that our meet up was in Green Park only steps away from my warm dry club where my coat is handed off and kind people bring me tea and buns. It surely could have been helped, but by stronger and dryer constitutions than I obviously posses.
London continues to amuse and amaze. Yesterday afternoon I was privy to the aforementioned "culture seekers" group and their excursion to the Charterhouse. It was apparently built upon a plot of land that in the 1350's was used as a burial ground for the victims of the Black Death. It was at one point a Carthusian Monastery. It even had the gall to stand up to Henry VIII and his naming himself head of the church. One gentleman and myself could not make out what it is the current occupants do or are. Yet, who am I to question and judge for what do I do, prey and who am I? I wondered, then, if I could dress up as an 80 year old man and happily slip in and out making it my comfy London base.
Our guide was the sort of Englishman one likes straight away. I am lucky in my club and library for such Englishmen of this sort are often found. They are a sort of mix of over-educated dry wit wrapped in a bit of old tweed and they wear subtlety like a mantle or badge of honour. Such men as these can be found in America, but they are few and far between and most of them congregate in my dear old Boston in Harvard Halls (not the new monied economy wings) and faltering brownstones in the Hill or the Back Bay. They also litter my Summer shores with g&t's in old pink troussers and far too many sailing stories.
I sometimes fret at the loss of such men and surely popular culture and media never gives us their example. One can catch a glimmer now and again of a younger man possibly headed to their ranks, but one never knows. I suppose a sheltered dilettante such as myself takes the image of men from her Grandfather and carries it about like a sort key to the map of men. But, I digress.
The building was lovely and full of history. It is a marvel to lay one's hands upon stones that have been set in the 1300's and to learn that the "new bit" of brick was placed in the 1600s. Wonderful carved woods, rather good portraits, and the right bit of monkish mystery in a walled room. This once monkish shelter consisted of three openings in a wall. The center and largest being a gothic arched carved stone door. On either side two smaller openings, one with a slanted curve to keep the monks interactions with others at a minimum. The third opening, much lower but still carved in stone, was set to take it all back out again in its "used form". One couldn't help be a bit jealous of the solitude of its old occupants. But, I am meant to be learning to be more social.
This takes me to afterwards at a fine little public house. As it should be, the exterior was done up in odd bits and bobs of history with a good bit of Ars Noveau tile at its top. We were lucky in our odd assembled group to have got a sort of private booth in the back. And as we were so awfully assembled, our motley crew, we had as good a time as can be had by a group of strangers whose politeness will often exceed their social graces.
I rather found myself leading the conversation. The thing I am often loathe to do and the trick learned from my mother of trying to keep the conversation going without any uncomfortable silence. If I was somehow meant to be the lady at the head of this sort of ragtag dinner party the subtleties of the dining room etiquette seemed only to have been observed by myself. Sometimes turning to the person to my left I expected, from some trained recess in me, that all would follow suit and that with my turning to my right the same would come about. No such luck. However, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
We are an odd group so thrust together expecting to make niceties. And yet again I forgot to exchange contact information with people. It might be that I never see any of them again, as this gathering of "culture seekers" seems to change each time I join one of their meet ups. C'est la vie, as the French rightly say.
Now, back to my tea and watching wet pedestrians scurry about Green Park. The entertainment of the idle.
I lived as a 1950s housewife for three years. Click below to see that project.
Donna Davis is a painter and printmaker living by the sea. Her work deals with women, history, the seashore, and moments in time. Follow along to see the process behind the product.