So I had an interesting day in 'town' yesterday. After lunch I strolled down Charing Cross Road, looking in the second-hand bookshops in search of inspiration. There are far fewer of them now. I imagine that it must be difficult making sufficient money in such an expensive environment.
I did find a gem: A C Grayling, The God Argument. A very well written, sober and accessible account of the case against religion. So much less showy, strident and smug than Dawkins. A real pleasure to read. I also bought an ancient Greek dictionary in Foyles. It turns out that the original Greek for ‘ghost’, as in Holy Ghost in the Gospels, is the word ‘pneuma’, translated (in the order given in the dictionary) as ‘wind, air; breath; life, spirit, mind…’ It started me wondering about the Christian interpretation of this ‘holy wind’ as yet another god.
Then to the National Portrait Gallery – which has been changed around so I had difficulty finding anything familiar. I went to the Victorian Gallery briefly, and did spend some time in the Charlotte Bronte exhibition to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her birth. Finally to the National Gallery, complete with at least three ‘Yodas’ outside together with two others of indeterminate appearance, dressed up for the tourists. The problem is that you see these figures in most major cities and still the tourists flock to gawp at them, apparently fascinated. While sitting inside the gallery looking at Turner’s glorious Fighting Temeraire, I was distracted by a well-dressed middle-aged foreign couple sitting next to me playing idiot computer games on their mobile telephones, said instruments emitting various noises to their great amusement. I really do wonder why some people go to all the expense of travel. I moved to another seat opposite The Hay Wain. Next to me was a young lad with his hood up, exhausted and fast asleep. At least he wasn’t snoring.
I usually end up in room 35 at the National Gallery, where the Turners and Constables live, but I also went next door this time to look at the Impressionists. Pissarro’s painting of Montmartre; wonderful!