Particularly in light of the numerous ‘Leeds?!’ reactions I had to my holiday plans, let me start off by saying how impressed I was by the city. Admittedly, yeah, we stayed confined to the centre, but that was still enough to really rate what they’ve done with the streets. I’ve said for ages that cities can be made so much nicer by aggressively stripping out the cars, but it only takes two minutes strolling down wide, clean, beautifully pedestrianised streets of Leeds to know how true this really is. True, it is a little shopping focused, but not entirely, and it nevertheless very clearly illustrates the pressing need for change elsewhere. There’s no chance of such progress in London under Boris, of course, but once he’s been dispensed with we should start looking very seriously at which parts of central London can be rid entirely of private vehicles whilst maintaining decent public transport networks.
Anyway! On Thursday night Lucy and I were delighted to meet up with a certain Andrew Kings and eat out to Pizza Express, who very thoughtfully gave us plenty of time to chat before bringing us any food. (Some kind of conspiracy?) We did end up with free dough balls, though, which is almost as good as free cheese. And it was so lovely to see Andy again after about 0.69 x 10^2 years! (HH – you are so on the list for next time.) Feast your eyes:
Friday was our turbo-tourist day, during which we ended up at the most fascinating exhibition on social order, ‘Rank’, at the Leeds Art Gallery. Aside from being genuinely interesting, it also felt pleasingly like a very pleasant form of exam revision; in any case, I’m sure I’ll be able to drop it in to my next DoS meeting. In the evening we culminated this rather cultural day with a performance of The Tempest at The Grand. I haven’t read the play, and Shakespeare can sometimes be rather difficult to follow in these cases, but as it turned out it was both easily accessible and very entertaining. The RSC were giving it all a rather clever African and colonialist theme, which I thought worked very well, raising questions about your sympathies without being too heavy-handed about it all.
(There is a story about the above photo, by the way. Although we laugh about accent stuff most of the time, when buying these ice-creams I have to admit that I couldn’t quite follow every single word the guy said. That’s how we ended up with ice-creams with everything on: when in doubt, just say ‘yes’ and hope it turns out well.)
And then on Saturday we headed back home, after seeing The Young Victoria in the morning, a film which I will spare much comment aside from the fact that I was perhaps the only person in the world disappointed that we never reached the repeal of the Corn Laws. And thus concludes our Easter holiday in Yorkshire… aside from one, very important thing. Books! Obviously, us geeks try and fill gaps with reading, so I finished off Book Club’s 100 Years of Solitude before moving on to Valis and Animal Farm. The last one, I feel, has probably lost most of its power given that I felt I knew exactly what was about to happen at most points… the effects of history, I suppose. But it was Valis with which I really struggled – for most of the week – and I’m certain that this was not quite the best Philip K. Dick novel for me. (William Blake gave me enough trouble: I just don’t do mystic.) So, suggestions please: what’s his best work?
Up next: return of the dinner party…