Apparently novelty single salesman Stewart Lee (like Joe Dolce and Hale and Pace doing the Stonk) has compared me to Rusty Lee. Ironically, that’s his nickname on the comedy circuit.
We went into that London today, though it seemed to have turned into Glasgow today with a hoard of bekilted Scotchmen thronging in the streets, correctly excited about their upcoming match against England. Later we (Catie and me, not the Scotchmen and me) were going to go to the British Museum to see the Nero exhibition and then have dinner, but she had some appointments first, so I was going to work on my new book in the British Library. But it turned out that the British Library doesn’t open before 10am and that at the moment you need to get a pass online before they let you in, so I worked in various Prets and coffee shops instead. A part of me thought that with the best part of a day to come up with spurious questions I might finish the book today, but crazy questions are harder than you might think and I added about 25 to the pot.
At one point a man with his hand lodged in his jogging bottoms came in and asked me for money, but I don’t really carry money much any more and if I did I thought the hand on the penis would have made the transaction awkward. Like I was paying for that service. The death of cash must make things extra tough for begging, wanking men.
I’ve missed London though.
The Nero exhibition was OK, but I didn’t get quite as much of the visceral connection as I did with the Becket one. It was cool to see a decorative horse bridle thing that apparently belonged to Pliny the elder (birdle, like a bird) but it was mainly coins and statues and I wasn’t sure that beyond casting doubt on the rather cartoonish image of Nero that we know from films etc, the exhibition really did too much to change the interpretation of the emperor. Just like Alfred didn’t burn the cakes and King Harold didn’t get an arrow in the eye and Canute probably didn’t try to turn back the tide (or was maybe making a different point to the one that is ascribed to him if he did), Nero didn’t fiddle whilst Rome burned and wasn’t even there for the first couple of days of the fire. It’s interesting how the most memorable bits of history are often a total invention and how if we are remembered at all, we are usually remembered for things that didn’t happen.
We dined at Dishoom in redeveloped Kings Cross and reminisced about how in the 90s Kings Cross was a pretty scary place (Catie’s friend got hit by a stranger as she was waiting to meet here there). Now it’s all upmarket and trendy, but it feels a little fake and hollow. We haven’t eaten out much this year (or the year before obvs) and this was the first meal its a restaurant that I properly enjoyed and that didn’t leave me feel queasy. We ate a sensible amount (or maybe a little bit more than that) and the food was rich but tasty.
I wanted to get back to see England crush the dreams of all the kilt men so we didn’t hang around. Although back in Welwyn the shopping centre had closed and for a minute it looked like we wouldn’t be able to get back to our car, but luckily a nice man told us about a secret door to the car park.
Scotland dented the dreams of the hand down the jogging bottoms Englishmen, although it seems a good result for both teams and gives both a chance to get through to the next round. I have a slight preference for England because that’s how it’s supposed to work, right? But I’d be delighted to Scotland and Wales progress as far as possible. And Scotland were great tonight.