On October 3rd, we had a wonderful time celebrating our son David’s wedding to Candice Biddles, the girl of his dreams. It all took place at the Lambton Golf Club which hosted both the ceremony and reception. The ceremony was presided over by a suave Welsh officiant with a mellifluous voice and the processional and recessional featured some surprisingly suitable cinematic music by John Williams (Star Wars for David, the ultimate fan, and some beautiful music from the Jurassic Park score). It all went off without a hitch (well, the gloomy weather could have been a little less windy, cold and damp), and everyone (including George and I) had a wonderful time toasting the happy couple (our son Jonathan’s speech about his brother David was particularly well delivered), and dining and dancing.
This week I have been writing from London where we have been having a whirlwind mini theatre trip and have been taking in museums, galleries and walking tours as well. We stayed at 1 Aldwych, a trendy hotel located about a 15 minute walk from Leicester Sq. We came to London for the wedding of our dear friends’ daughter which will take place near Windsor on Tuesday Oct 13.
On the flight over I watched Love and Mercy, the story of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, and his life long struggle with mental illness. A wonderful story about the fine line between madness and genius, it portrayed Wilson as a tremendously gifted artist and musician who like Beethoven, could hear entire scores of music and orchestration completely in his head. Paul Dano plays Wilson as a young man and John Cusack plays him in his middle years. Both are extremely touching.
We saw 3 wonderful theatre productions including The Commitments (full of great Motown tunes), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime (a mystery solved by an autistic teenager), and Close to You (a jukebox musical based on Burt Bacharach’s music). All 3 were totally enjoyable. We’ve also enjoyed going back to one of our favourite London restaurants, The Wolseley, a very hip and trendy spot in Mayfair favoured by a very diverse crowd.
Our first museum outing was to the London Film Museum where we saw an exhibition of the vehicles used in the Bond films. James Bond mania is rising to a fever pitch here as the film opens in late October and many of the newspapers and magazines are running features on it. Each display at the exhibition featured film footage of the vehicles being used in each film (as well as the actual vehicles) and it was a wonderful walk down memory lane to revisit each of the Bond films as the 50th anniversary of Dr. No, the first Bond film, was celebrated a couple of years ago
We then spent some time at the National Portrait Gallery where we saw an exhibition of Audrey Hepburn photos and The Victoria and Albert Museum where we saw an exhibition of Indian fabrics. We had a wonderful lunch in Harrods and enjoyed walking through Knightsbridge.
On our last day in London, we took a walking tour of some of the highlights of London’s East End, spent some time walking around the Imperial War Museum and then headed over to Leicester Sq to see Tom Hardy play both Kray brothers in Legend. His performance was astonishing in a longish gangster film set in ’60’s London. The film is being shown at the headquarters of the London Film Festival which is happening right now and as we left the theatre, we were suddenly in a massive crowd of fans who patiently lined up to see the stars of Black Mass, including Johnny Depp and Benedict Cumberbatch, entering the theatre.
The weather in London was beautiful and sunny for our entire stay there, so we hoped it would stay beautiful as we headed to Berkshire on Monday for a wedding celebration for our longtime friends’ daughter Emily Mockler to the man of her dreams, Andrew O’Bourne.
After 4 nights in London, we travelled out to Coworth Park in Berkshire (southwest of London) for our big fat English wedding. The setting was idyllic, located on the edge of Windsor Great Park and the hotel was elegant and comfortable, part of the Dorchester Collection. The ceremony was held at the very charming Royal Chapel at Windsor and it was very traditional yet very intimate with a lovely choir and an Anglican service. The reception afterwards started with champagne, h’ors d’oeuvres and acrobats and was followed by a sumptuous dinner in a beautifully decorated dining room and dancing into the wee hours. I doubt that I will ever have the good fortune to attend such a spectacularly elegant wedding again!
The next morning we went for a lovely walk on a beautiful fall day around the lake at Virginia Waters which is part of Windsor Great Park and then caught our flight back home.
I just have a few quick notes regarding TV, as I, for obvious reasons have not had much of an opportunity to keep up with my favourites:
I’ve enjoyed watching the first three episodes of Downton Abbey which have already aired in the UK. I won’t spoil it for any of my friends, except to say that it is a wise decision to end the series at the end of this season as it has descended into self parody at this point and is unintentionally hilarious. I saw the Toronto theatre production of Upside Downton last week where 1 actor plays all the roles in the series, and now I can’t take any of the actors seriously, especially Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) with her very strange mid-Atlantic accent!
I loved the return of Homeland. Carrie has a gorgeous new partner, her child appears unharmed, she has a new security job in Berlin, Saul is mad at her, Quinn has become a hitman in the war against ISIS… Good start!
The Leftovers is back and seems to have tried to take on a more positive note as Season 1 was truly all about the despair of those left behind after the inexplicable departure of their loved ones. Season 2 sees our main characters move to Miracle, Texas which mysteriously and miraculously didn’t lose any inhabitants to the departure.
I loved Home Fires on Masterpiece. It is about women on the homefront in pre WW2 Britain. Such a time capsule! Those of you who liked Jam and Jerusalem, the Jennifer Saunders comedy about this women’s institute, will love this series, which is an adaptation of the book Jambusters.
I watched three films on the flight home. Suite Francaise with Michelle Williams and Kristin Scott Thomas. It seemed very different to the book which I had read a few years ago. It seemed to boil down to a romance between a French girl and a German officer which I didn’t recall at all. Suspenseful yet humdrum at the same time. I then laughed the entire way through Spy with Melissa McCarthy. A very broad parody of every spy thriller ever made with Jason Statham and Jude Law providing surprisingly comic turns. The last film, Testament of Youth, was based on a classic British memoir by Vera Brittain about the loss of Britain’s finest young men in WW1. Touching and featuring fine performances by Alicia Vikander and Kit Harrington (aka Jon Snow from GOT, and very beardless, short haired and adorably pouty looking in this film). I enjoyed this film which chronicles the lost generation of those who didn’t return from the war and the impact this had on their families.
Arriving back in Toronto on Wednesday evening, we are now getting ourselves ready to head to Fl for our Oct/Nov stay. I will, of course, be madly catching up with all the shows I have missed this past fortnight (look how British I’m becoming!) of non-stop touring and celebrating.
PS, I feel duty bound to report that during all of the above, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the crime novel, The Black House by Peter May. Set in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland, the book made me feel like I was back in Scotland (in even worse weather than we had in June). May is a crime writer who tells stories very well and really delves into the psychology of his characters, so that the book is a great combination of character and plot. I am now reading Lawrence Hill’s latest novel, The Illegal, a fable set in a fictional island off Africa about a marathon runner who scrambles to remake himself as a refugee in a mostly white and racist nation. Very timely.
In the meantime, enjoy this beautiful fall weather. I suspect winter will be rolling in before we know it!
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