Two Days in London and Four books

Dam Weymouth, Fiona Mozley, Andrew HolgateWith two Young Writer Award dates in the diary, H and I decided to make a weekend of it, arriving on Saturday morning when London was looking its beautiful best in glowing autumn sunshine. I went off to the bloggers’ event at the Groucho Club after lunch where the four shortlisted authors were introduced by Andrew Holgate who gave us a little background to the prize and how important such recognition can be in promoting a writer’s career. Each author gave a short reading before a Q & A led by Andrew. It was a delightful afternoon made all the more so by meeting bloggers with whom I’ve shared so many exchanges over the years. Such a pleasure to chat to Annabel, Kath, Elle, Erica and Naomi, and with Clare and Eric all too briefly. There were trains to catch and some of us had to think about where we were going for supper.Imogen Hermes Gowar, Laura Freeman

Sunday was another glorious day, perfect city walking weather. We had tickets for the Anni Albers exhibition at Tate Modern but had time for a quick wander around the City where I worked for a while in what feels like a another life now. Albers was a weaver who lived a very long and productive life, beginning her career as a member of the Six PrayersBauhaus Group, founded in 1919, whose design ethos was based on simplicity and beauty in a form that could be mass produced for the people. She fled Germany for the US in 1933 when Hitler forced the Group to close. Her pieces are lovely, making use of texture and sheen for effect. One of her most beautiful designs is ‘Six Prayers’ commissioned by the Jewish Museum in New York as a memorial to the six million Jews slaughtered in the Holocaust. A superb exhibition, highly recommended.

In the afternoon we set off for the Foundling Museum which I’d already visited but H hadn’t. It was founded by Thomas Coram who, on his return from America in 1704, was shocked by the number of infants abandoned on London’s streets. He raised funds for his project by staging concerts and exhibitions: both Handel and Hogarth were amongst the artists with a strong association with what was then known as the Foundling Hospital. The Coram Foundation is still active today numbering Jacqueline Wilson and Lemn Sissay amongst its prominent supporters. One of those lesser known museums, well worth seeking out.

Monday morning was taken up with the shadow judges’ meeting the result of which we’ll be keeping between ourselves until Wednesday 28th. Suffice to say it was a close run thing. Amanda, Lizzi, Lucy and I met at 11 am but poor Paul was still stranded on a train, finally arriving in London at 1 pm when the rest of us were long gone – me to the excellent Dishoom to meet up with a couple of friends for lunch. Paul’s input turned out to be pivotal: we’d all have much preferred it if he could have delivered it in person.

And the books? They’re the shortlisted ones of course: The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, Elmet, The Reading Cure and Kings of the Yukon which I’ll be reviewing on Friday.

22 thoughts on “Two Days in London and Four books

  1. Liz

    Sounds like a marvellous trip all round. The Albers exhibition looks amazing and I am sorry to be missing it. Mind you, I can’t complain really – I am next planning to be in London in May, when there are at least four major exhibitions on that I want to go to! And how nice to squeeze in the yummy Dishoom – we have a recently-opened branch here in Edinburgh. My favourite treat (of many) is their breakfast menu. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      You’re so lucky, Liz! When I spotted that they’d opened in Edinburgh I fired off an email asking if they have plans for Bath. They don’t but the reply was from a real person rather than automatically gernerated which endeared them to me still further. The Albers was a treat but it does sound as if you have a packed exhibition schedule to look forward to in May.

      Reply
  2. Rebecca Foster

    How lovely that you were able to make a weekend of it. I’ve wondered about the Foundling Museum, so I’m glad to have your recommendation. I’ll have to find a time to go.

    It’s a shame your shadow panel meeting went awry, but you got there with a decision in the end. Sounds like you had more differing opinions than we did last year: we were unanimous!

    Reply
    1. Susan Osborne Post author

      I think you’d like the Foundling, Rebecca. It’s both poignant and heartening.

      How lovely that you all agreed. Must have been lots of time for chat afterwards! It’s so ironic that Paul’s casting vote sealed the deal despite his being in what must have felt like an endless transit.

      Reply
  3. Elle

    It was so nice to meet you, Susan! Thanks for the recommendation of the Anni Albers exhibition; someone told me about it a while back and I’ve been meaning to have a look.

    Reply
  4. BookerTalk

    I heard from Kath that the two of you had met up having successfully negotiated all the chaos because of the environmental demo. I was rather envious to hear what a good time you all had…..

    Reply
        1. Susan Osborne Post author

          There was a brillint display in the final room which included hanks of the various types of yarn Albers used for us all to feel. I was particulalry taken with the Swedish linen.

          Reply
  5. Claire 'Word by Word'

    What a fulfilling weekend you’ve described, it makes me long for London and her abundance of treasures and relics and wonderful spaces in which to honour them. Thank for you sharing all that, I look forward to the day I’ll be free to return and catch some of these events and exhibitions.

    Reply

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