Ah yes! Monday’s day out.

Ah yes! Monday’s day out. I’d almost forgotten…
After doing a few chores involving the bank, Boots and the district council, I caught a train to London Bridge where I met up with Gem. We don’t see each other anything like often enough. She’s been feeling a bit low lately after a messy break-up, and I get the impression that things have been a bit stressful for her at work, with layoffs and people jumping ship. She seems to be approaching one of those crossroads in life, so I hope it was good for her to take a day out, relax, talk things over with an impartial observer, and generally have a good day.
Anyway, we mooched from London Bridge along the South Bank, pausing for a baguette-based lunch along the way. Not the best baguette I’ve ever eaten, filled with particularly dry grated cheese, but very nice to sit by the river and people watch whilst we caught up on each other’s news.
Then we sauntered along further until we got to the London Eye, where there was an icecream vendor. I really fancied a 99 with two flakes, but he only had chocolate icecream. It was good, but not really what I had in mind.
After this, we went in for the feature attraction of the day, which was a tour of the Saatchi Gallery. Modern art is not really Gem’s bag, and this visit was my idea. She has promised that next time we shall spend an afternoon looking at Impressionist paintings to make up. I say "make up" because even I was not entirely satisfied by the gallery experience. There doesn’t seem to be a logic to the way that the gallery is laid out and the pieces displayed. There is currently a Damien Hirst retrospective, but it was hard to actually gain any sort of overall view of the development of his work and style. Instead, his pieces were scattered through the rooms of the gallery, juxtaposed with works by other artists. The overall feeling of the gallery is that each artist is simply trying to out-shock or out-clever the next, and the endless references to death, sex and shit do become a little tiresome after a while.
Favourite works? Ron Mueck’s Mask, which is truly terrifying in it’s proportions. Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (known as The Shark In The Tank to you and me), which gives a terrifying impact when viewed from a distance, but seems weaker and more frail when viewed close to. Richard Wilson’s 20:50, which is innovative and produces an awful vertiginous sense in the viewer who also becomes part of the artwork by entering it. In fact, seeing 20:50 alone is worth paying the entrance fee for.
After the Saatchi, we retired to a waterside bar to enjoy some beers in the late summer sunshine, before heading up through Covent Garden to Oxford Street, where we braved the hordes, looked in a few clothes shops and ended up in Waterstone’s at Simpsons to use their loos and buy some paperbacks. Then we headed back to Soho, had some cocktails, met Gem’s friend Lisa, and finished the day with the three of us enjoying a Chinese meal before I had to dash and catch the last train home.
A good day all round, I’d say.