Pop art and giving thanks far from home.
After walk through the neighbourhoods of Islington on Saturday that lay to the north of my flat, Sunday I walked through the leafier, quieter and poshier neighbourhoods to the south of me - Holborn and Bloomsbury. Former residents include folks like John Maynard Keynes and Charles Dickens. Fictional residents include the Darling family, those whose little children followed one Peter Pan to Neverland. Today, the areas have such notable residents and institutions like Ricky Gervais, De Beers Diamonds and University College London.
I was heading south because I was heading for Covent Garden, a place I normally avoid due to the overwhelming crush of the crowds there.
As a rule, I don’t mind crowds. I like the anonymity of walking through the crowds on a busy business district street, everyone with heads down and walking with a purpose.
Covent Garden is different, though. Covent Garden is full of tourist crowds, people walking slowly and erratically, constantly changing direction or stopping and staring upwards. It totally throws off my pace of movement, and infuriates me endlessly. Bad for the blood pressure.
I put aside my general dislike of the tourist hoards and headed down to Covent Garden to see a giant silver rabbit. The rabbit, created by American artist Jeff Koons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 2007, has since travelled the world as a floating art piece.
The rabbit is in London as part of the Pop Life: Art in a Material World exhibit at the Tate Modern. The exhibition has been in the news over here because officers from the Obscene Publications Unit of the Metropolitan Police removed one of the works of art prior to the opening, a picture of a picture of a naked 10-year old Brooke Shields.
After spying the rabbit, to escape the crowds I headed over to the Maple Leaf Tavern on nearby Maiden Lane. The pub is a Canadian Bar, and thus I ordered a pint of Canadian-made Sleeman India Pale Ale. I was having a quick Canadian pint before heading home to prep for the day. This past weekend (including today, Monday, which is a holiday back home) is a big deal back in Canada.
It is autumn, and that means in addition to the leaves falling from the trees, Canadians will be falling asleep on the sofa with the Calgary Stampeders against the Montreal Alouettes on the TV.
This weekend, back home in Canada, is Thanksgiving weekend. My British flatmate recently asked me, after I announced it was Thanksgiving this weekend, “you aren’t American, what the hell do you have to be thankful for?”
Besides for the obvious answer implied in the first half of the question itself, Thanksgiving is a harvest festival and back in Canada we are celebrating the bountiful harvest that the majority of Canadians have nothing to do with, and don’t even notice because all our food is flown in from California and Chile.
Never mind, as this is the first Thanksgiving that I haven’t gathered with my family in Toronto since my University days, I decided I would have a mini-Thanksgiving feast for myself.
The traditional Thanksgiving dinner would be a large roasted turkey with stuffing, and mashed potatoes with gravy as a side. A turkey struck me as being overkill, seeing as I was only feeding myself, so I decided to roast a chicken. They are both foul, so I figured it would be fitting.
Because I have more money than culinary skill, I bought a pre-seasoned and stuffed chicken.
As a side, instead of mash, I just baked a potato to have along side. Of course you need a little liquid refreshment as well. I wanted to have a nice Canadian wine (yes, there are Canadian wines), but sadly they are very hard to come by over here, so I went with a Chilean sauvignon blanc instead.
It was yummy, and the best part, just like Thanksgiving back home - Leftovers! Chicken for dinner again this evening.
Happy Thanksgiving to those back home in Canada.
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A final note that today marks the tenth anniversary of the death of my Mother from cancer. I have marked the occasion by thinking of the good times we had together, and also sending out positive thoughts to my family back home.
It is a tradition at Thanksgiving to name what you give thanks for in the past year. So today I have concentrated on giving thanks for the years that I had with my mother.
"I still miss those I loved who are no longer with me but I find I am grateful for having loved them. The gratitude has finally conquered the loss."
Rita Mae Brown