Wednesday, 18 January 2012

A few days in London

Church of St. Martins-in-the-Fields
I've come to London to meet my UK publisher at Virago Press, Lennie Goodings. I'm so pleased to be published in the company of so many fine women writers, including Margaret Atwood. I have many Virago books on my shelves at home. Here's a little about the press:

If you look up "virago" in the dictionary, here's what it says:


noun, plural -goes, -gos.
1. a loud-voiced, ill-tempered, scolding woman; shrew.
2. Archaic . a woman of strength or spirit.
Strange and sad how the Archaic meaning changed over the centuries to become the modern one. But I'll gladly claim either definition.
Lennie Goodings is actually a Canadian who came to Britain in about 1978. She's been with Virago ever since. She grew up in southern Ontario and lived in St. Catharines, probably within about a mile of where I lived until I was ten. She went to the high school across from Dennis Morris (my sister's Catholic high school). She comes from a family of 5 (we have 6) and her brother is known as Mr. Safety, Patrick's nickname in Shelter. That last bit may be the oddest coincidence.
I have a fairly light schedule here, so today is a sightseeing day. I'm going to walk to Kensington Palace, which is not far from my hotel (the very gracious taxi driver told me about it last night; it's where Princess Diana lived), then to the British Museum. Everything here resonates with associations. Yesterday I went to the church of St. Martins-in-the-Fields, which is where the Academy of St. Martins-in-the-Fields originated. They produce some of my favourite classical music with Neville Marriner conducting, including the sublime Mozart Piano Concerto #17 with Alfred Brendel playing piano. After the switch to CDs from vinyl, I searched for years to find this recording again, and finally did. The others just can't match it.
I also went to the National Gallery and may go back today if I have time. So much to see, you could spend days. I loved this painting, Combing the Hair by Degas. (this is taken from a postcard!)
Tomorrow there are Shelter activities. More later.

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