A little post to celebrate my happy mother’s day with my girls. We went to a Secret Film Screening which is so hush-hush and embargoed that I can’t even write about it until next Monday! Thanks, lovely EnglishMum, who kindly passed on the invite. Don’t tell the film people, but I’m really hoping I won’t have forgotten all about it by next week. Slipping into teenage speak for a second, next Monday is, like, 400 million, trillion years away. I’m finding increasingly that if I don’t do things RIGHT NOW, this very instant, then I blissfully blank them out completely. But it was a great film so I’m sure it won’t slip right out of my head the moment I stop thinking about it ……. And you’ll remind me, won’t you?
Next, after our special secret film, we decided to go to the Van Gogh exhibition at the Royal Academy. Or rather, Child One and I decided this. Child One is getting more artistic by the day and, much to my joy, she is now keen on museums and galleries! I wish I could put this down to my years of dragging her reluctant little form to all the latest must-sees, but I think it’s just the sudden flipping of a switch in her brain. Anyway, the switch in Child Two’s brain is, as yet, resolutely unflipped and I was anxious about how she would fare in the long queue.
Just then there was one of those magical London moments. As we walked towards Piccadilly, I noticed that there was no traffic. Then music started up, then floats appeared as if out of nowhere and suddenly we were in the middle of a fully fledged St Patrick’s Day parade. I was wearing a green scarf, by chance, so everyone gave us a special wave. How lovely – and, best of all, because Piccadilly was closed off, there was only a twenty-minute wait at the RA. A customer service lady came up and tried to sell us a ‘Friends of RA’ membership, for £70, which I was seriously contemplating as Child Two expressed her boredom and frustration in a variety of ways, but when we came to pay I used my Barclays debit card and, to my astonishment, the ticket lady said that meant we were entitled to two free tickets and I only had to pay £4 for Child Two. What an amazing bargain! I don’t know whether this has been a closely guarded secret or whether, as usual, I am just way behind the times but thank you, Barclays. I almost feel guilty for moaning on about your services and I almost feel like taking one of my two purloined Barclays biros back to a branch. But not quite.
I’m not quite sure what I felt about the exhibition itself. Child One loved it and was very inspired, particularly by the south of France canvases and the still lives. I’m not a huge lover of Van Gogh, I really quite dislike the Potato Eaters and find his early Dutch landscapes quite depressing. The letters were a revelation, though. From his brother, Theo, telling him to cheer up his palette of colours (thank you, Theo!! God, it really made a difference) to the often gorgeous tiny sketches he made, they were a window into a quirky and, of course, tortured soul. I found Van Gogh’s obsessiveness quite terrifying – the detailing of which pencils he wants Theo to send, the exact type of paper he’s using, even, on a broader scale, his batty determination to teach himself to paint and then to become a great painter, in the face of constant discouragement, all evidence of an insane degree of focus. I suppose it’s a sort of voyeurism but I would be very interested in an exhibition which only charted his descent into madness – I don’t know whether this has ever been done or whether others would simply consider it distasteful. But I think there’s something fascinating about madness sparking such creativity. According to the RA show, in the last 70 days of his life, Van Gogh produced more than 70 canvases.
Luckily, Child Two got bored and dragged us away before I could depress myself too much with worrying over Van Gogh – definitely a lost cause – and soon we found ourselves in the Haagen Dazs shop, looking at unfeasibly large quantities of chocolate ice cream, chocolate sauce, chocolate sprinkles and, in my case, an austere cup of tea. And, ahem, a spoon that delved often into other people’s goodies.
A lovely day.