Finally, I have caught up with stuff, so I can actually give you the promised summary! The essence first: I've had a great weekend!
Saturday morning had me evacuated from this earthquake ridden country at an ungodly hour. I was pleasantly surprised that I was actually able to help Joe set up his Mac after arrival. From there, straight to Over-Seas House to get rid of my stuff and on to Birbeck college for the Lunch reception. Great speech by Sir Malcom Rifkind - very entertaining with a serious core. Rhetoric at its best!
The program continued with a flight on London Eye. Fine way to spend half an hour and get some spectacular views of the place. Back to Over-Seas House to get changed and on to Westminster Palace where the evening reception with Dinner in the Churchill Room started at 7pm. Another fine speech by Tam Dalyell, MP, Rector of the University, giving us some anecdotal evidence that he was indeed Father of the House, what with him being in Parliament together with Winston Churchill, whose bust was carefully watching over him. And thus endeth the day - all too soon!
Here are some pictures of that day. And if you wonder about my telegramme style: I've been reading the diaries of Samuel Pepys again, who incidentally discovered the joys of "a Cupp of Tee (a China drink of which I never had drank before)" on the notable day of September 25, 1660.
Anyway, that out of the way, I met up with Joel and Paul on Sunday, two friends from Masson Hall at Edinburgh University. We had fun discussing Joel's plans for early retirement (he turned 31 recently!) and set a date for a Masson Hall reunion in June 2005 - mark the agenda! All that over some pints of Guinness of course.
Later in the evening, I decided to to something cultural and found the Gala Concert on at the Royal Albert Hall. They were just inaugurating the rebuilt organ (with 9999 pipes!) and Boy! was that ever a concert. It felt a bit like a mini version of the last night of the Proms, what with Pomp & Circumstances and the crowd singing Land of Hope & Glory. Very atmospherical! There were other sundry classical All time Greatest Hits, such as Bach's Toccata con Fuga, Saint-Saëns' Organ Symphony (did you know that the musical theme from Babe, the Gallant Pig was taken from there?!), Widor's Toccata (enhanced!) and - unmistakably - Strauss' Also sprach Zarathustra (aka the theme from 2001). Great fun was had! If it works, I'll also post a little bootlegged video capture on the sidebar for your short enjoyment. Oh, and thanks to Linda for inviting me to an excellent Stalls seat for essentially half the price. Hopefully, they will be able to sort out the low frequency hum which is rather annoying during the more quiet parts - fortunately there weren't many of those! Most intriguing by the way that - evidently - the RAH employs a "Light Jockey" of sorts who modifies the light composition ever so slightly in line with the mood of the music. True professionalism, I suppose ...
On the Monday, I just had a business meeting at Over-Seas House, a bit of shopping, another pleasant pint (and pizza) with Joe and a bit of adrenaline in the traffic jam to Heathrow airport. Surprisingly, I met a business acquaintance from Switzerland at Acton Town's Underground station - what's the chances of that! And we were also on the same plane back home, right on time for the aforementioned earthquake...