Out and About

A old friend in town is good enough excuse to splash out on dinner and a show, welcome relief from the piousness of staying in, cooking one's own meals, and watching DVD box sets. I have discovered a hitherto dormant aspect of my brain that goes aghast at miniscule discrepancies in expenses, while the other part of the brain tries to console it by going shopping on eBay. I've had an extended attack to trying to be pious of late, partly out of guilt from the excesses of the winter holidays, and was beginning to be mired in the stygian gloom of the Exercise of Moderation.

To add to the drudgery was the prospect of spending the day sitting atop a sightseeing bus or in a capsule of the London Eye, so it was a great relief to find that my friend, whom I hadn't seen for almost seven years, had worked out in advance what she wanted to see and do in London, and we simply met up for an impromptu dinner at Bibendum, chosen on the basis of the fact that she would be coming from Sloane Square. After recent forays to Moro and the Wolseley that had left me profoundly unimpressed, my expectations weren't too high. We managed to get a table, a good one at that, without a reservation, on a Friday night, which I have to compare to the Wolseley, who stuck my date and I the previous week at half past six and ejected us onto the pavement two hours later. The food at Bibendum was excellent: not mind-blowing, but consistent across starters, mains, and dessert, which is more than I can say for the Wolseley.

The play we watched, also organised at the last minute, was Yasmina Reza's God of Carnage, Christopher Hampton's translation of her Le Dieu du Carnage, which is also playing in Paris at the moment. It hadn't opened when I booked it but it was being heavily promoted on Radio Four; I managed to avoid reading any reviews until Saturday. It is thoroughly enjoyable, and almost impossible to believe that it was not written by an Englishman about the English bourgeoisie. It was played as a comedy, which I understand from the reviews is not what Ms Reza would have wanted; but the fact that we laughed did not make the lacerations and the tragedy of the piece any less acute. Do audiences in Paris sit solemnly with furrowed brow through Le Dieu du Carnage? More intelligent people whose job it is to do so have written many reviews and analyses of this play, but I must point out that the telephone, the intrusion of the outside in the dynamics of the two middle-aged couples, defined them as adults and as children: one character's mother constantly calling reduced him to infantile rage; whereas their son, calling at the end of the play, forced them to become grown-ups once again, to adopt the authority of one who knows what one is doing.

After the play was done my friend wanted to go clubbing, which was a perfectly reasonable idea since it was ten o' clock on a Saturday night, and she was leaving the next day. It was with great relief that I was able to indulge in my Exercise of Moderation and go home to my torrents of the last few episodes of House, which should have downloaded by this time.

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