Friday, June 30, 2006
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
Monday, June 19, 2006
The sheep drive was a bizarre event. I'm certainly glad I went. Although, I'm not sure I need to go again.
Meant to highlight how much London's cityscape has changed (and stayed the same) over the centuries, the drive retraced livestock drives that occurred as recently as the nineteenth century. Rather than the publicized flock of 60, there were maybe 20 sheep amassed at Borough Market to be driven by almost as many shepherds. Compared to the thousands of additional humans who’d come to witness the drive, I’m surprised I even caught a glimpse of the ovine celebs. Ironically, the next day I was in Kent, where zipping along the countryside in the back of a car, I saw plenty of sheep grazing in a natural setting and not a single person encroaching upon them.
Among the drive's human spectators were a handful of animal rights activists – who seemed to have a some valid points, however poorly expressed. They argued (at the top of their lungs) that it was cruel to use the sheep as spectacles. Now the poor sheep did, at times, seem (and seem is the operative word because I really have no idea) to be frightened by the crowds and the urban setting. But as far as that point goes, the protesters' rants were the loudest sound to be heard, and afterward the sheep seemed mellowed out and happy to just hang in the shade and eat hay. The main complaint yelled by the protesters was that it was too hot for the sheep. It was a warm, sunny morning (the temperature probably in the high 70’s), but c’mon, it wasn’t that hot. Beyond that, the protesters called out against the slaughter of animals. A point I can appreciate. I even used to be vegan. But, I hardly think they'll change any attitudes with their approach. Most people don't like cranks yelling at them.
Smithfield Market, where meat has been traded for over 800 years, marked an inevitable end of the drive. Awaiting the drivers, the driven, and the flocks of onlookers, was a recreation of Saint Batholomew's Fair (Bart's the patron saint of butchers). However, this recreation was considerably tamer than original fairs: no prostitutes (that I could discern), no Protestant burnings, no William Wallace being drawn and quartered, just food stalls and tschotke vendors. Among the food stalls was one run by Jollof Pot, which served delicious - and spicy - Ghanaian cuisine. I had a heaping plate of blackeyed peas and tomato stew with rice. The dish had lots of flavor and reminded me of Cajun cooking. I hope to run into Jollof Pot again.
Now that the drive is over, I'm still wondering if it was merely a spectacle or an actual eruption of wonder upon the otherwise mundane - or just messy mix of both. It has made me think much about how much this city has changed through the years and how London has always been at the cutting edge of whatever leading industry dominated the world economy. Impressive. It has also enabled me to make a little better sense of why streets, buildings, etc are where they are and why many have the names they do. Did sheep really need to be subjected to teeming sightseers to get such a message across to people? I don't know. But, it worked.
Friday, June 16, 2006
If you go, look for the guy in an Aloha shirt with a woman whose head looks like it's about to explode (she really likes sheep).
Tuesday, June 06, 2006
A weekend of 'sophisticated savagery dedicated to the worship of tiki and exotica' starts this friday at 5:30 p.m. with a Tiki Artshow Opening at Kingly Court (unit 2.12) just off Carnaby Street.
Visit the London Luau's website for more details about the long list of fun events:
Saturday, June 03, 2006
at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre
on Monday 5 June 2006
Box Office: 020 7401 9919
Transport: Tube: Mansion House, District & Circle lines (10 minute walk), London Bridge on the Northern and Jubilee Lines (10 minute walk ) St. Paul’s on the Central line (10 minute walk) Overground: Blackfriars and Cannon Street (12 minute walk)
Shakespeare's Globe is donating use of its theatre to Reprieve for this benefit concert. Reprieve is a UK charity that fights for the lives of people facing the death penalty and other human rights violations, and was founded in 1999 by human rights lawyer Clive Stafford Smith.
David Knopfler and Karine Polwart
Reprieve is Shakespeare’s Globe’s chosen Charity Partner for 2006 and is kick starting its tenure with a one-off music and comedy evening. Taking place in the unique and intimate setting of the Globe Theatre, the line-up promises to be diverse, multi-talented and – most importantly – out-spoken. This unique event promises to be engaging, entertaining and raise crucial funds for those who are prevented from speaking up for themselves. The benefit evening is supported by lastminute.com.
Thursday, June 01, 2006
This past Friday, my wife and I got together with some old friends whom we had not seen in ages. We met at a beautifully refurbished gastropub, the Thomas Cubitt. Located on Elizabeth Street in Belgravia, this pub's interior is the definition of understated elegance. However, on a Friday night, ole Thom gets pretty crowded and loud (and smokey). The ambience was great for our initial meet up but not ideal for further catching up. Despite reading about Thomas Cubitt offers raved about meals (I'm still eager to dine there), a change of scenery was in order; thus, we simply crossed the street and had our supper at Oliveto, a stylishly subdued Sardinian restaurant boasting top quality meals at reasonable prices. Lady Luck seemed to be on our side that evening, as we arrived at Oliveto around 10 p.m. and quickly got a table for five. However, I highly suggest making a reservation for this restaurant (especially on weekends) and will do so the next time I plan to visit.
More information about the Thomas Cubitt:
More information about Oliveto: