Monday, November 27, 2006

The Cinema and a Pale Yellow Jumper

What a cool evening I had last night. After ten minutes of waiting outside the wrong Odeon on Leicester Square (did you know there were two?) Sean rang me to see where I was. When we finally met he was wearing a lemon jumper and his hair looked blacker than before, as black as soot in fact. We shared coffee/toffee ice-cream in the Odeon and then watched The Prestige. Sitting in the cinema with someone called Sean was a strange thing, especially as my trips to the flicks with my ex Shaun (who I still feel a connection and love for) were always incredibly intense. Am I the only one who finds there's something sacred-like about cinema-going? Think about it. When you enter the auditorium, you leave behind the world of light and enter an utterly different dimension. Not only are the scenes projected before you often unlike anything you've ever experienced, you're forced to sit in silence or talk in a hushed whisper. At its most basic level, there's something incredibly beautiful, almost philosophical, about it, a bit like Plato's cave. You sit in a dark room, watching patterns of light fall against the wall, and when you turn around you see scores of faces, also whitened by the light: what could be more beautiful?

After the cinema we went - by Sean's recommendation - to the most marvelous restaurant in London: The Stockpot! I have to admit, as soon as we walked in the door, the clientele surprised me. An old man was sitting in the corner, sucking on his gums, while beside him an old woman, who looked like a bloated frog, stared blankly at a mountain of mash that was piled on her plate. The place itself was simple, slightly grim-looking depending on what you're used to, and decked out in cheap decorations. I felt like I'd stepped back in time to an innocent Britain, not yet fooled into thinking that by making something look nice you immediately improve its quality. The food was like the food you get at home (a British home, I mean): that is, charming and unpretensious. We had turkey, roast-potatoes, carrots and Cranberry sauce - a whole Christmas dinner in fact, Brussel Sprouts included - and left feeling full and very English.

That night, in bed, listening to Anna Netrebko sing Rachmaninov in her creamy white soprano, I cast my mind back to Sean's yellow jumper. Sitting opposite it after the darkness of the cinema had felt like being in the proximity of light, as if an essence of pale yellow had distilled in the air and could be touched if I reached out. Rolling over, I snuggled into the dark warmth of my duvet, shut my eyes and slept.

The above painting is by Xavier Pick, a contemporary London artist who makes beautiful pictures of London by night. To see more of his work or purchase paintings click

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