All things pink and red
Cupid’s arrows are zinging around with extra vigor because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. To help you get into the mood—just in case you’ve missed all the advertising in shops and in every possible variety of media—I bring you a selection of my photographs, paying special attention to pink this year.
The photograph above was made in a gîte where I was staying with a friend. These gorgeous roses, freshly cut from the owners’ garden, stood in a vase in our living room.
I’d planned a trip to meet my sister-in-law in London, business for her, fun for both of us, with the bonus of connecting with friends who live there part-time. We’d planned the trip months earlier, and as the date approached, we realized that we would be there for Brexit Day, Friday, 31 January. The U.K. would officially leave the European Union at the stroke of 11:00 pm.
While Kathy had meetings, I passed most of the afternoon of 31 January getting around town on foot and by cab, on a photographic scavenger hunt for a project you’ll see in these pages some time in the near future. At one point, I announced success in finding the last remaining piece to the puzzle, and the taxi driver asked if he could take me back to my hotel.
“Parliament Square, please.” He gave me a long look in the rear view mirror, nodded, and put the car into gear. Off we went through the streets of London.
Parliament Square is, not surprisingly, located near the home of the U.K. Parliament, Westminster Hall, and the square is populated with a nice selection of statues of various folks who have had an impact on British history, including Winston Churchill. It is often the site of protests and demonstrations, and on this particular day, all eyes were turned toward the square to see how the victorious pro-Brexit crowd would show their pleasure about parting ways with the European Union. I wanted to check it out.
I got there at about 2:30. It wasn’t yet very crowded, but people were arriving in a steady stream, many of them draped in Union Jacks. The entire perimeter was lined with police and journalists; countless cameras rested on tripods. And a bit disconcerting, there were several helicopters buzzing around above our heads.
I wandered about, spoke with a few people, photographed a few others, and then left. It wasn’t really all that exciting, but I could feel the energy building, and decided it was a fine time to leave.
Later that evening, the four of us went to see Hamilton, the play by Lin-Manuel Miranda that is about the life of Alexander Hamilton. I was fully absorbed by the play, the music, the costumes, the set … it really is a magnificent bit of theater. At the same time, I was also noticing my own growing awareness of the bizarre combination of circumstances on this particular night.
Picture this: a group of three Americans and one Australian are sitting in a theater in London, surrounded by a sold-out audience that is largely British. We are here to see a play about one of the leaders of the American Revolution. There is enthusiastic applause after each song, and at the end of the play, an energetic standing ovation. By itself, that is enough for a sense of the surreal, but a half-hour later, at 11:00, comes the stroke of Brexit, and that turns this evening into the very definition of the word surreal.
The last part of this story is a little bittersweet. Like many U.K. citizens who live in this town, a local friend had received a letter from the mayor. It talked about the changes that would come with Brexit, and explained how to find helpful information. She was especially touched by the handwritten message at the end of the letter: “Avec tous mes regrets.”