Last night we went off in search for a pub — why not? We were in London, and it was the freaking England vs Italy match. Football followers already know how this went (England lost the penalty shootout 4-2) but the atmosphere of sitting in a room full of semi-drunk, loud fans was amazing. If I got a pound for every obscenity uttered (samples include “fuck off ref” and “you cunt” for some of the tamer ones), I could have paid for my overpriced Four Seasons duck and shui zhu yu in Chinatown, but more on that later.
Now that I mention it, I have no clue which pub we even walked into. We just barged into the first one that had seats available – I was surprised we got a pretty good table. Here’s a photo of the manageable crowd (the others we went to were packed at like, 7.15pm when the kick-off was at 7.45pm). My favourite Person of the Night is the guy in red whose back is towards us. He provided most of the vulgarity-tinged but much-needed commentary whenever the game got draggy, which was very often – WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN TO ME EVERYTIME I WATCH A MATCH (*cough* Spain vs Netherlands World Cup 2010).
Heehee, even his pose is one of disbelief. Anyways, on to the food. The fish & chips (8.95 pounds) were meh to me. I’ve had better.
BUT! Teehee I am now officially abandoning my no-carb diet. Why is yorkshire pudding so delicious?? The roast (8.95 pounds) was decent too, but yorkshire pudding. And my new chick drink – the Rekordelig cider you see in the background. Dad bought some pear or apple flavoured ones back home and it struck me how deceptively mild it looked. Plus the pub was selling strawberry-lime mixes, which everyone knows I can’t pass up. By half-time I was acutely aware that I was talking very loudly — though Alan says I always talk very loudly, it’s just that when I’m tipsy I realize it. [It’s 4% but… I suck with ‘alcohol’.]
One thing that’s absolutely crazy about London for a tourist is the food prices. When Alan and I meandered to Chinatown’s Four Seasons, I was like, how expensive can this get? Well. We dropped 31.50 pounds (S$62 agar agar) on half a duck and shui zhu yu (‘water-cooked fish’ for its literal translation, which is a complete lie because it’s soaked and marinated in oil and peppercorns).
The restaurant, with Alan probably checking out food reviews as he is always prone to do.
What we came for. It was 12 pounds, plus you have no idea how much hype I’ve heard about Four Seasons’ roast duck. (At first I thought Alan was going to take me to the hotel, but how wrong I was haha.) Disclaimer: I was really hungry so first couple of bites were like, yum yum yum. But after a while I had this jelat, sickly feeling. Maybe there was too much of the sweet sauce? Anyway duck aficionado Alan said Goldmine is much better.
And then, the fish. Oh, the fish. Could anybody else have her heart broken into a million pieces from disappointment? I can accept if your sauce isn’t ma enough… but how do you muck up FISH? (Ok rhetorical question — I have destroyed them in my few but destructive attempts to cook seafood.) But how does a restaurant pick fish with absolutely zero taste? It was like eating rubber. It was like they decided to wrap the fish in a waterproof, airtight blanket and let it sit and marinade so it would absorb ZERO FLAVOUR.
Alan was more forgiving. Since Four Seasons is famed for its duck, he was like, “Asking them to do good seafood as well is like asking a carpenter to make a leather sofa.” I have no idea what that really means but I laughed my butt off, even though my wallet cried in pain after being robbed of S$60. Haha.
But London redeems itself with its free museums. It’s a perfect way to kill time. My stint in the Art Elective Programme, I must admit, is quite the joke, but at least I could tell which paintings were 16th century etc when we visited the National Gallery a couple of days ago. Actually, I didn’t ‘tell’ per se. I just guessed and I turned out to be right. Haha.
Anyway we were strolling along the gallery spaces (which are rooms and rooms of paintings encased in the most ridiculous and gorgeous frames), and I was starting to feel extremely uncultured looking at pictures of people I didn’t know painted by more people I didn’t know. Thankfully we bumped into a docent giving a guided tour, and after that the logs in my eyes were removed.
For example, check out William Hogarth’s Marriage a la Mode – a series of six paintings which pretty much gives the moralistic warning not to marry for money or class or for barter trading in general. Without the guide, I would have just walked by them.
The above is the second in the series, The Tete-a-Tete. Crazy number of details. Guy on the left is carry a stack of bills but only one has been spiked. The other two are husband and wife, entered in an unhappy marriage – her father needed the money, his wanted the status. Both are having an affair – she carries a mirror, presumably to warn off her lover. There’s a nightcap in his pocket that the dog is sniffing out. And notice the black spot behind his ear – HE HAS SYPHILIS. I guess I was also excited by the whole salacious affair (the paparazzi in me clamours for more) – but yes, I did look at more ‘highbrow’ art like Turner’s Dido Building Carthage and Claude’s Embarkation of the Queen of Sheba.
We’ve also been to the National Portrait Gallery and the Tate Modern (didn’t pay for the Damien Hirst but got to see the 50 million pound For the Love of God). Have I seen some pretty amazing things? Sure. Has my life been changed in some minute way? Not really, but I would like to have a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of those things on my wedding ring someday.
Since we’re on the topic of art, this might be a good time to bring up Xiu’s exhibition at the Architectural Association. Suffice to say, if I don’t understand art I definitely do NOT understand architecture. But I am going to presume Xiu will turn out to be an amazing architect and build gorgeous buildings because she won an award!
And a nice photo of the twins to conclude this post’s daily serving of eyecandy.