Thursday, December 01, 2005

Turkey Day / Birthday

My birthday (Tuesday) was great. I spent all day here, then met a few friends here, and finished by enjoying a few warm pints at a classic, brightly lit, carpeted pub. I received some wonderful gifts: socks (no really, they are awesome socks), a DVD, a CD, a really really great portrait of me, and a dozen muffins from my sister. Hooray for twenty-eight!

I am spending the morning here. It is lovely.

This afternoon I was supposed to go here, but for the life of me I can't figure out what I decided I needed to see there. The book that I was positive was only held there either (1) has disappeared since I first searched the catalogue or (2) was never there in the first place. Bad scholar!

In case you were wondering, I share my birthday with Louisa May Alcott, Busby Berkeley, C.S. Lewis, Madeline L'Engle, Gary Shandling, and Howie Mandel. From this list, you can easily see that astrology is totally true.

But I must go back to two previous days recently that were very special: Thanksgiving, and The Day of Famous People.

Thanksgiving

Like my birthday, this was also nice. I ate dinner at college classmates R—'s flat, in the building above Baker Street tube station. (That means it is a very expensive flat.) R—'r parents are British, but have been living in New Jersey for close to twenty years. So it was all suitably American. The turkey was entirely wrapped in fatty bacon before roasting, however, a delicious British touch.

On the journey home, a man took my picture on the Tube. It was unsettling: rather than making eye contact, asking for my consent implicitly or out loud, he simply got out his camera-phone and pointed it at me, while never at any point making eye contact. I tried to stare him down, and when that didn't work I tried staring directly into the lens of the camera. But he never flinched -- he never looked at me. He seemed to me to be smirking and chuckling. It was very very odd. (Question for discussion: is this the opposite of being kicked in the teeth, or its analogue?)

I shall chose to believe that he was recording my outfit for posterity. I was wearing my fuzzy red cashmere woven tie (the "sweater tie"), a white shirt and a gray cardigan, with black suit trousers, my new boots (which deserve a post of their own) and the leather jacket. It's all about contrasting textures, see?

My Day of Famous People

The following Saturday I met up with the Spaniard for Lunch. I rather randomly chose to meet at the cafe in Selfridges, since I enjoy walking around there, and it's convenient to Marble Arch, where he would be getting off the bus from Oxford. As I walked up to him in the cafe he said "look over there in the corner." I did not notice anything special. "It's Vladimir Ashkenazi!"

The Spaniard is the kind of person who would recognize people like this. (He's also the kind of person whom Angela Georghiu comes up to, on her own accord, to yell at him in a restaurant, but that's another story.) Along similar lines: Van Twee, your story about the world-famous pianist is, according to the Spaniard, everyone's story about that famous pianist. Perhaps unsurprisingly.

But if I'm not able to recognize famous conductors in random sightings, I got my own back an hour later. As we were finishing lunch, I got up to find the bathroom, who should I walk right by but Simon Pegg. Unmistakable. He had a baseball cap pulled down over his face, and is quite short, so I don't think I would have recognized him if I hadn't gotten so very close.

Then the Spaniard and I have a stroll around Mayfair. While on our way to the Dover Street Market (which, by the way, are currently selling bottles of CDG "White" perfume in bottles with adorable hand-knit sweaters which are the best things ever) I noticed a new shop that had just opened. It was revealed to be the new Paul Smith Home store. As we walked in I immediately noticed that the man standing in the middle of the store was, in fact, Paul Smith himself. Honestly, I recognized him only on the basis of his portrait in the National Portrait Gallery -- a oil painting in which he is clutching a bolt of green fabric.

But here's the thing: he was incredibly nice to us. I was wearing my scruffy anti-capitalist sneakers, and the Spaniard looked like an Oxford post-graduate student... either way is was very obvious that neither of us was about to drop £3000 on a pair of eighteenth-century chairs. Nonetheless, when he saw us looking at them, he came over completely unbidden and began good-naturedly telling us humorous stories about where he picked them up, and where they were about to be shipped. He was utterly delightful.

After a few minutes in the store, I had decided that, yes, I was going to take him picture. But when we came back into the front room he had gone out to run an errand. Oh well.

So, it's 16 days until I leave, and it looks like I WILL be going to France for five of those. So... I don't want to think about it.

6 Comments:

Anonymous john aranda! said...

Happy Belated Birthday Blochy!!!!!!!!! Yee-haw!!!!!!!

10:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

happy happy belated birthday! anything we can send from nepal? we are amazingly free of riots and the shops are open :-)

nb

1:02 PM  
Blogger Van Twee said...

You suck at "blind items," can I just say that? Why I'm positively GLAD I forgot to wish you a happy birthday.

Anyhow, friend Adam already broke it to me that an acquaintance of his has also... played four-hands with my new friend. Still I can't say I was so terribly disillusioned; indeed, hmm, I'd rather enjoy an encore.

2:26 PM  
Blogger Van Twee said...

Okay one more thing--Overheard in New York re: cameraphone on public transport.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Dr. H said...

Err, happy, err.. belated birthday Greg... I ..err.. forgot... or maybe never knew...
Wishes and stuff for a wonderful err year ahead...
P.S. You free on Monday evening?

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Alex said...

you were much missed at the londonist do last night greg. hoping to attend your final farewell.

happy birthday,

alex

7:07 PM  

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