Saturday, 5 December 2015

The Ghost of Christmas Present

We're Country Hicks these days, the In-Charge and I.
It wasn't always thus - back in the day, we were happy-go-lucky Londoners, but these years there's a good bit of straw in the auld hair and heaven knows what on the boots.
But recently we threw some vaguely respectable duds in the back of the car and headed to Dublin for a couple of days.

Listening to some radio show en route, I instantly resolved to see Matthew Bourne's Sleeping Beauty at the Bord Gais Theatre. I feel very deprived with regard to Matthew Bourne, as I never did see his Swan Lake. It was, the radio said, the last few performances of the ballet, and - knowing the In-Charge would rather watch paint dry, I planned to sneak in a matinee while he visited a friend's studio.
We had several lengthy appointments to work around, but still...

A meeting on the way took a bit longer than anticipated, so we got to Dublin later than planned, too late for that day's ballet matinee, anyway.
After checking in to the hotel, we headed round the corner to Oliver Sears - an obligatory pit-stop every visit. The In-Charge knew that the gallery was showing a Donald Teskey exhibition, so definitely not to be missed. It was fabulous, and if it's still on, go and see it for yourselves.

We play a game in galleries - daft but inevitable.
We separately decide which painting we can't possibly leave without.
Teskey's prices being what they are, it was going to be a picture imprinted on the brain or the phone, but better than nothing.
It took me ages to choose.

One of Donald Teskey's paintings at Oliver Sears

And even so, I'm still not certain.
I loved the Carrowkeel series too, and would have been happy to have left with those under the other arm.
Teskey spent a period of the summer up in Sligo, so the paintings particularly resonated.

One of the Carrowkeel series, Donald Teskey at Oliver Sears

After that, there was nothing for it but to nip into the National Gallery for another fix.
They had a new exhibition of portraits by John Butler Yeats, father of the more famous William.
The In-Charge liked his self-portrait. It makes him look a jovial sort of chap, but I'm not sure that he was.

JB Yeats - self portrait

I preferred the portrait of his daughter Lily (Susan) but on balance I'd probably have chosen a Sargent or an Orpen.
Or a Lavery. I've always wanted Lavery's portrait of Hazel and Alice and Rodney Stone.

Lavery's portrait of his wife

Maybe it's really Rodney Stone I want. He's just so beautiful.

Rodney Stone

After that, of course, we had to go into the National Gallery shop where we fell in love with more dogs.
This time Charles Wellington Furze beguiled us with his fanciful Diana, but there were lots of others too.

Diana and her hounds

We bought a book for a friend and moved out into the streets, slightly punch drunk. Looking at wonderful paintings seems to do that.
But being in Dublin's streets had another effect on us - they time-warped us forward. Although it was only mid November at the time, everything was wall-to-wall Christmas. I suppose that's normal, but not in our sleepy back-water and, to us at least, the 'Festive Season' still seemed a long way off.
The shop windows were spectacular, the pubs and restaurants were decorated to within an inch of their lives, and pre-Christmas sales were in full swing.

A Dublin pub in full Christmas regalia    

A cross between Twenties glamour and Narnia's snow queen

Windows on Grafton Street.

I didn't make it to the ballet. Sadly, our appointments on both days overshot the matinee performance.
We didn't even make it to Suffragette, a movie I'd really wanted to see, as we'd missed it at home. On arriving at the cinema which still advertised the film on its programme, the box office said: 'Not Tonight, Josephine', or words to that effect. It was late by then, so we gave up and went to James Bond.
A bit of a damp squib, but there you go.

Before we knew it, we were heading back to the sticks, and now, several weeks on, our brief Dublin trip is receding into a ghostly reminiscence, but we both feel we've done Christmas.Somewhere along the line, there was even a turkey, ham and cranberry sandwich.

Now I am in the UK, where, amidst the floods and winds, there are Christmas trees and sparkly lights.
It feels rather odd, somehow, because surely by now we ought to be launching into New Year?

1 comment:

  1. Hoping to see the Bourne Swanlake in Manchester in new year.if I manage it I shall report back.


Ah, go on! Make my day - leave a comment!