There's something vaguely odd about listening to Series 3 of the radio Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, 24 years after the last episode of season 2 ended with "It's a wonderful world". I can't quite place my finger on why, as I can listen to the tapes of the first two series any time I wish.
I have to say I have doubts, having heard the first episode. The world has moved on, and DNA had done the same. Moreover, the first two radio series were, of course,The Originals. Here the process has been reversed, the books being recut into the radio series, and I'm not sure it works. It wouldn't, of course, have happened while DNA was alive... those who knew him tell me that this, and the fact the film is finally moving forward, are not unconnected with the fact he is sadly no longer around to insist on complete control.
I spent this weekend wandering round a few of the places open as part of Open House London, an idea about which, for once, I find it utterly impossible to be cynical. The opportunity to wander round places rarely open, for free, admiring the architecture and learning more about the history of the city is not to be sniffed at and the enormous amount of work the volunteers must put into it leaves me lost in admiration.
My disappointment was in failing to reach the Gherkin in time either day: having gone and seen the appalling queue on Saturday I decided to come back early on the Sunday. Does 10.30 on a Sunday not count as early any more? By then the queue spiralled round the tower, up St Mary Axe to Leadenhall Street, along, down the next side street, and turned left to get confused with part of the front part of the queue at the base, and wisely they'd already closed it to anyone else.
On the Saturday I instead went round the Foreign Office, a hugely impressive building. I was more taken with the original Foreign Office part than with the old India Office, but that too, particularly the Durbar Court, was breathtaking.
Highly amused by small child on way out asking why the allegorical types in the frescoes on the Grand Staircase weren't wearing proper clothes, or indeed very much at all.
From there to the pub to meet up with some friends who'd managed to wake up earlier than me and therefore visit more sites (though since one of those was the RCJ I didn't feel I'd missed too much, from there to some boat-bar at Embankment to meet Rob, Steph, Milliesioux and D, and from there to Simurgh, a Persian restuarant ("Persian" turns out to be another variant on generic middle eastern, b with a heavy use of rice and saffron) which I heartily recommend if your wallet isn't too thin. The belly-dancer is only part of the reason.
After my failure to make the Gherkin on Sunday I had a look round 22-26 Whitehall (now the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department of the Cabinet Office), including the fantastic Admiralty Board Room (the table cut with a semi-circle at the head, according to legend in part to accomodate the belly of the then First Sea Lord, though I have my doubts as this tale is also told of the corpulent St Thomas Aquinas and his portable altar) and the Captain's Waiting Room where Nelson lay before his burial. Assorted churches and minor sites too, ending up with the interior of the Wellington Arch.
And from there to the pub, with some of the reasonably usual suspects to celebrate Steve's birthday.
I'm feeling vaguely inspired to revive my old habit of visiting random sites in London every weekend I'm here by the whole Open House thing. We shall see how long my enthusiasm lasts.
Does it date me that when I hear coming through the walls of my flat the Eastenders theme tune I automatically find myself thinking... "anyone can fall in love..."?
Currently reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. So far so exceptionally good.