This week in Hampstead…….
On the top floor of Burgh House in a wedgewood blue museum dedicated to Hampstead, I discovered the healing iron-rich chalybeate (pronounced kaylee-beat or kaylee-bee-artay depending where you’re coming from) spa waters with sister E. Declining to sample them, we took instead a Pint of Haddock Fish Fingers (yes, really) at the brown timbered Holly Bush watering hole where Mr Fenton of Fenton House would hold meetings to save the Heath – and across the road from where Jamie Oliver once lived. Once a year Fenton House holds an Apple Day in celebration of the English apple – coming up September, all the other days it celebrates the genteel arts of England finely stitched history. In the grounds of the Parish Church of St John we reflected on the grave of The Haywain painter John Constable and family and in the church itself, on the bust of poet Keats that once was stolen and turned up later in a car boot sale. It’s a rare and precious thing to have a guiding cultured actress sister with whom to share such things.
And hay there from the South Bank……
In the shadow of the dizzy making London Eye and alongside the Thames where a strip of sandy beach has been created on the embankment and a row of Mayor Boris’s Bikes line up outside the tube – I have the opportunity to walk with a second cultured sister F…….who points out the giant fox made out of haybales lurking on the roof of the Hayward Gallery…..the supersized furnished front room complete with flying ducks next to the National Theatre….and guides us into the British Film Institute Cafe for a pre-play nibble. Alecky Blythe’s London Road at the Cottesloe Theatre is based on the true story of the discovery of 5 womens, said to be prostitutes, bodies in Ipswich December 2006. The words that are chanted and sung more than spoken are those that were recorded verbatim from the residents of the town at the time. The effect is of present day social psalms – delivered exactly as they were received. At the door as we left, one of the cast collecting money for a charity to help get ‘girls off the street’ – told of how they had spoken to the remaining prostitues (we call them sex workers in South Africa) and shared their stories and pain first hand.
What a piece – and what a privelege to have such a sister with whom to share it.
Speak soon – nxx