Joan Baez was on a Farewell Tour and I took 2 days off from school to fly to London and see her. She is 75 after all and who knows when I’ll see her again.
The concert was just great.
Having spent the past few weeks listening to Who? (including the customs guy at the airport who asked why I was in London) it was so great to see 5,000 people, mostly my/our age passionately enjoy her concert.
A great selection of songs representing her entire career opening with There But For Fortune by Phil Ochs to her newest album to Farewell Angelina to Me and Bobbie McGee to The Boxer and of course Imagine and The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down and everything in between. Great commentary in between. She talked about her first appearance at Albert Hall in 1965. She had the audience in the palm of her hand. And sounds great. A bit lower but still able to hit some of those high notes.
I took the bus back home so saw a bit of London at twilight. I sat next to a woman who was at the concert too. She talked to me first. How did she know? I guess if you were at the Albert Hall bus stop and of a certain age………
Before the concert, I met my nephew who works in London (Bank Holiday) at the wonderful Serpentine Cafe by a lake in Hyde Park which I didn’t even know existed. 27 degrees and sunny. Nice, especially since it was supposed to rain every single day while I was there (only 3 days, my shortest visit to London ever). Fortunately, there was a huge thunderstorm during the concert and unfortunately the day I left, causing my flight to be late by 3 fucking hours!
I used my old tactic coming back to Warsaw, refusing to put my bag in the hold but this time ripping off the tag before I came onto the field. Once again, there was another free row and lots of room above me in the luggage bin. Good thing too because then they told us it be another 2 hours (!) after already waiting in the airport for 2 but it turned out to be only one. And we got nothing. No water even.
I stayed at an Air BnB in Notting Hill because I wanted to be close to Albert Hall. As it turned out, there was a bus that took me directly there and I love riding the bus in the upper deck. Notting Hill is the poshest, greenest, quietest neighborhood I have ever stayed in. I lived in a 70s house in a Mews but up the street, there were these gorgeous mansions, all pastel, with fragrant roses planted outside. Nehru lived there in the 40s.
And of course, the movie, Notting Hill was filmed there. There were also renovations going on with some houses and even then they had a letter posted apologizing and to call them if there was any problem with noise and mess. The people you were supposed to call were all Polish. Most of the workers I came into contact in the cafés were all Polish too so I used Polish quite a bit. I still don’t understand why working in a café in London is better than working in a café in Poland what with the fact that London is at least 5 times as expensive as Poland. I’m sure they don’t make 5 times as much.
But the best part of Notting Hill was that the main sound you heard was birds. Lots of birds because there are so many trees, parks, and large yards. This was my daily walk to the bus, Tube and the cafes of Portobello Rd.
Interesting enough, from time to time you saw public housing interspersed among all this wealth. It’s the only place I saw people of color. It was only when I was walking to the other Tube to get the bus to the airport that I saw signs talking about people’s loss and I realised that tall building I was passing, wrapped with white was Grenfell Tower.
It was right next to the Tube stop, Latimer Rd. I now understand why all those rich people want that housing out of their posh neighbourhood. I was talking to the construction guy and he said it is going to be torn down. 1 point for the 1%. Again.
So great weekend all around. Revisiting history.