Racket Abuse

02-roof [caption id="attachment_4866" align="aligncenter" width="788"]I think they covet the paycheque more than this... I think they covet the paycheque more than this...[/caption] It was the second double double header of tennis.  The morning crowds were not as thick and testy as Tuesday: Monfils had dropped out of the tournament due to his lingering rib injury.  But at the year end event, they replace injured players.  So David Goffin (not next in line, Berdych would have been, but I guess he declined) played Djokovic.  The doubles match prior was a rather slim straight set effort.   I was seated next to some Germans, some very large German youth.  They had snuff.  Snuff! [caption id="attachment_4867" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]goffin-arrives The rock stars arrive. First David Goffin.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4868" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Then Novak. Then Novak.  They reprimand the players for poor behaviour and shh the crowd but amp us up with strobes and rock music and Dylan Thomas (yes, it's true, it's the UK, they "violence" it up a notch too), then act shocked at the racket.[/caption] At just over an hour I’d like to write that the match was a clinic.  But it wasn’t; Novak made several double faults and shot wide of the mark on numerous occasions.  However, as is often the case on the ATP, lesser players cower on the court with him.  Goffin simply couldn’t rise to the occasion.  An hour seven; we could have been watching first round women’s tennis at a Grand Slam. [caption id="attachment_4869" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Novak wins. Surprise. Novak wins. Surprise.[/caption] I might add that for his hour and seven minutes, David Goffin took home a paycheque of $179,000 USD.  Ouch.   There was still plenty of time between the day and evening matches; on a whim I took the clipper to Greenwich, wandered around for a spell, had a light nosh at a wonderful bakery called Paul Rhodes, then a spot of rain set in so I bussed back to the 02.  I can think of someone else who would have just taken a nap. [caption id="attachment_4870" align="aligncenter" width="640"]Who is this mutt and why does he keep interrupting this blog? Who is this mutt and why does he keep interrupting this blog?[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4871" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]The Emirates Air Line. Geddit? North Greenwich to Canning Town. Fractionally quicker than the tube. The Emirates Air Line. Geddit? Fractionally quicker than the tube to Canning Town.[/caption] The evening doubles session, Dodig/Melo vs. Murray/Soares was actually enormously watchable and would have gone to a third set if doubles had a third set but instead they go to a 10 point tiebreaker.  Game, set, tiebreaker, Murray/Soares. [caption id="attachment_4872" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Murray and Soares finish the year as the number one doubles team Murray and Soares finish the year as the number one doubles team[/caption] Milos took some practice time on the main court before the doubles. [caption id="attachment_4873" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Milos practicing with coach Carlos Moya Milos practicing with coach Carlos Moya[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4874" align="aligncenter" width="857"]The grey head on the left is someone called John McEnroe The grey head on the left is someone called John McEnroe[/caption] On Tuesday the 20,000 people or so loved Raonic.  He could do no wrong.  On Thursday night it was all about Thiem.  It’s true what they say: the British really do root for the underdog.  Thiem is a great player and will win a grand slam or two; his serve this year has become refined and a weapon.  But he’s still nervy and uneven and in two longish unpredictable sets Milos sailed into the semi finals. [caption id="attachment_4875" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Milos heads for the semi-finals Milos heads for the semi-finals[/caption] [caption id="attachment_4876" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]The Cutty Sark in Greenwich at dusk The Cutty Sark in Greenwich at dusk[/caption]  

Lift not working. Use other lift.

That was my favorite random sign of the day, Wednesday, November 16, maybe the week.  Most of the day I spent walking anyway; no lifts required.  It started sunny, like Tuesday it was mild, 15 or something.  I stopped at an outpost of Bill’s (sort of the Australian Jamie Oliver) for scrambled eggs and bacon and sour dough which was immediately forgettable but the waiter was from, of all places, Prince Rupert. [caption id="attachment_4851" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]trafalgar-square From the National Gallery terrace towards Big Ben[/caption] Late morning I went to the National Gallery for the Caravaggio show.  First, I’ve never particularly liked the National.  I think the outlook, so prominent, facing down (literally down) at parliament, puts it metaphorically on a pedestal.  Plus, the “national” in the title gives it an all things bright and beautiful motif which prevents it from being as brilliant as it could be.  Special exhibitions: Next door and down two flights please.  Seriously! [caption id="attachment_4852" align="aligncenter" width="847"]The Taking of Christ, a work of staggering beauty, absolutely impossible to capture in a photo (NB: Caravaggio painted himself into the artwork, carrying the lamp) The Taking of Christ, a work of staggering beauty, absolutely impossible to capture in a photo (NB: Caravaggio painted himself into the artwork, carrying the lamp)[/caption] The second thing about Caravaggio is that, if you care, if you care at all, you’ll never see anything sufficiently in a “show” as most of his work never leaves the apse where it was painted (probably in Rome).  Anyone especially in awe of Caravaggio is not going out of their way for a Caravaggio show, they are making a pilgrimage.   But who cares.  This is a good show, an impressive show, a moving show.  Crammed into seven small rooms, poorly lit (any dimmer and we’d be Ebeneezer Scrooge with an oil lamp), stuffy and with barely an inch to maneuver, it is from start to finish absolute gold.  With fewer than a dozen actual Caravaggio’s, but many from Cecco, his servant slash student slash possible lover, along with a slew of those who followed or copied or admired him, it is start to finish dead impressive. [caption id="attachment_4853" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Neal's Yard gets Christmassy Neal's Yard gets Christmassy[/caption] At some point in the afternoon, after ambling about the West End, Soho and Fitzrovia, I passed a Curzon showing Tom Ford’s latest, Nocturnal Animals, with a start time only four minutes hence.  I ducked in.  Well.  Well, well.  It’s a long ways to go for not too much return.  In the style of this cinema, I’d prefer Nebraska; more laughs.  But the Michaels (Sheen and Shannon) both shine, while Amy Adams does a scene without lipstick.  Meow.  Any more base on Armie Hammer and you’d have the George Hamilton Story Retold.  Casting three Abercrombie and Fitch models as your hillbilly deviants shows a) little knowledge of film and character and b) that he’s never seen a Coen brothers' film, cast to perfection to within an inch of their lives.  For Ford, everything has to be beautiful, even some poor uneducated rapist sap with a flush toilet on his front deck. [caption id="attachment_4854" align="aligncenter" width="969"]The umbrellas in the window of this shop are 245. That's 245 pounds sterling. Each. The umbrellas in the window of this shop are 245. That's 245 pounds sterling. Each.[/caption] The weather had changed after the film.  Darker.  London does that.  Unpredictable.  At one point I picked up new specs from Black Eyewear.  Each frame they sell is inspired by a jazz artist.  If you have the chutzpah, I’d recommend Dizzy or Miles or Duke.  I went a little waspier. [caption id="attachment_4855" align="aligncenter" width="611"]Vanessa Redgrave in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, 1966 Vanessa Redgrave in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, 1966, at Wyndham's[/caption] For dinner a set price affair in Covent Garden at Café Murano.  After dinner, play five of six: No Man’s Land.  Like the title of this post, lift not working, use other lift, that could be dialogue lifted from any Pinter work; sharp, ironic, pointed.  The play is brilliant, cerebral, in a weird way haunting, and if you have the patience, rewarding.  But to pull it off, to make it work, to make it worthwhile, it has to be over the top brilliant. Anything else is simply incoherent chatter. [caption id="attachment_4856" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]Wyndham's Theatre Wyndham's Theatre[/caption] This is the “hot ticket” play of the week, the only one which sold a full slate of standing room only tickets--on a Wednesday no less; in fact, I could have resold my ticket in the “royal circle” at a profit.  Nobel laureate Pinter, the “Sirs” McKellan and Stewart, Damien Molony (not known in Canada unfortunately) and Owen Teale (yes, Game of Thrones Owen Teale).  Stellar cast (better performances from Teale and Molony in fact).  Sold out run.  Going international with NT Live in December.  Check, check, check. [caption id="attachment_4857" align="aligncenter" width="1008"]The Royal Circle looking up to the Grand Circle peeking up to the balcony at the Wyndham's The Royal Circle looking up to the Grand Circle peeking up to the balcony at the Wyndham's[/caption] But the production is not stellar; the direction is predictable, the staging almost tired.  You can only imagine, dream, of how magical Gielgud and Richardson would have been in the 1970s original; you cannot fathom why there is but one long static set of lighting, not much in the way of production, sound only at act’s end, and sections of near infinity where there is no movement only elocution.  I felt sorry for the 20 per cent or so of those attending under 30, who felt alienated by the cryptic dialogue and metaphor, the lack of linear development, the inertia.  But, still, they got their standing O. So it goes. [caption id="attachment_4858" align="aligncenter" width="725"]Two men who have seen their name in lights many times, over many years Two men who have seen their name in lights many times, over many years[/caption]