Looking for a Painting


A woman I’d met at a green group told me that she’d taken up painting and at another meeting of the green group she showed me one of her drawings. I was impressed and said, “I’ve taken some photographs of famous people, if I may have your email I can send them to you.”

We were supposed to be talking about green matters, wildlife, green areas and so on but as we were away from the main conversation, we chatted about other things. At the end of the meeting she gave me and the woman who organises the group a lift home.

It was several meetings later, (the meetings are held once a month) when once again the lady gave me a lift home and said, “I have a painting in an exhibition, would you like to see it?”

“Yes of course, where is it?”

“It is in the Mall Gallery, which is next to the ICA and near to Trafalgar Square.”

“I look forward to seeing it.”

I sent her an email to find out when the exhibition was on and made my way to The Mall by an obscure route. I alighted from the bus by Selfridges, I prefer going into the West End by bus, crossed Oxford Street and into North Audley Street.

I passed a few shops, a fish and chip shop and a restaurant, then walked under scaffolding until I arrived at Grosvenor Square. Crossed the road and walked through the grassy area of Grosvenor Square, there were people sitting out enjoying the sun and in the centre there is a statue of a horse which has two people wearing masks facing each other.

Leaving Grosvenor Square I walked under more scaffolding in Carlos Place then turned left by a water thing, it has water flowing over it and I can only suppose that it is used for air conditioning for the hotel nearby.

Turning left I entered Mount Street, where there used to be a photographer but it is now a shop which sells cases and the butchers also closed earlier this year. On the corner is a fashion shop this used to belong to a well known hairdresser.

There were two people taking pictures of a white Lamborghini which was being driven along with no hood. The car had foreign number plates, drove around Berkley Square and then disappeared. There were two men in it, probably just posing.

Waking along the pavement I noticed a Rolls Royce parked and it had a blue badge in the windscreen. Oh dear, surely if the owner can afford a Rolls Royce they can afford to pay the parking charges. I suppose some people are never happy unless they can get away with something.

Eventually I entered Piccadilly and stopped to look at a map to see where I was going to. I entered St James Street and on the corner building perched up high is a statue which resembles the lady who stands guard over the Old Bailey, she has a sword, is blindfolded and scales in her other hand. I can only presume that at one time the building used to house lawyers.

Walking down the street I passed an old wine shop and a pipe or is it a tobacco shop? At the bottom of the road, where I turned left, stands St James Palace, behind which is Clarence House where the Queen Mother used to live. Nowadays it is the home of Prince Charles and Camilla.

Walking along Pall Mall, I found a gallery but it was not the one I wanted and so I looked at another map. For The Mall I had to turn back to Waterloo Place where I walked past a statue of Scott of the Antarctic and on the opposite side of the street is a statue of an air force chap. Passing a statue of the Duke of York I walked down steps, looked over to Horse Guards Parade and turned left where I saw the ICA building.

The Mall Gallery is quite a walk from the ICA and it occurred to me that if they were your neighbours it would not be too bad, after all either of you could play the tv loudly or play loud music, without the neighbours complaining.

At last I was at The Mall Gallery and next to it was a statue of Royal Marines. Entering the gallery the grey haired man behind the counter pointed to his right saying, “No entry to that section today.”

“Thanks,” I replied walking down the steps to the gallery. Initially I was not impressed as the vast majority of paintings looked like drawings of male and female nudes and they looked rather amateurish. I looked for my friend’s painting but could not see it, although one painting did catch my eye and it was for sale at the princely sum of £1000. This, could not be my friends’ painting as she said it was for sale for £500 and the gallery took a hefty fee.

On another wall was a painting of a girl in a pink T-shirt who had a pigtail, this painting was for sale at £1800 and on the next wall there was a painting of a man in a hat with a portion of his guitar. The fourth wall merely had drawings of nudes. I was perplexed where was my friends’ painting?

I went around the gallery again and looked at the painting which had first caught my eye, it was of a grey haired bearded man, in fact his hair was almost white and the sweater he was wearing was wrinkled and so I looked at the name. It was my friends’ painting. I wandered over to the other side of the gallery and looked at the picture of the man and for me it was the best painting in the gallery.

I then departed from the gallery and turning left could see a statue on the other side of the street of a sailor in a three cornered hat, at last I could see his name, Captain Cook, probably our greatest sailor. Then it hit me, of course the large archway is, Admiralty Arch.

Passing the Royal Marines statue I walked up the steps and along the path, passed the Admiralty pub and entered Trafalgar Square where our greatest hero Nelson, stands up high on a column.

I wandered round Trafalgar Square and watched as people photographed themselves or their children sat by the paws of the lions guarding Nelson’s Column.

Arriving at The National Portrait Gallery I entered the building and noticed that the BP Portrait Exhibition was on and it was free. I walked past pictures of Prince Charles and Camilla, looked around a few galleries and entered the exhibition, it was so crowded, in fact there was a little girl sat down near the entrance drawing and talking.

Initially I thought the paintings were ok but when I saw one of a lady looking in a mirror, which for me was the best. Later on I saw a young girl who had been painted by her grandfather and she had a lot of tinfoil over her. As for the judges choice of 1st, 2nd and 3rd, err no thanks. I will go back another day and vote for my favourite.

On my way out I paused to look at the pictures of Charles and Camilla. For me the picture of Camilla is superb and makes her look attractive as for Charles, it is a head shot and upon closer inspection I noticed grey stubble. His picture made him look severe and somewhat pompous. I wondered if that was the idea of Charles, or the photographer?

Leaving the Gallery I thought about my next move and decided to go, if possible, by bus to Ealing Broadway. Walking past the statue of horses which have a water spray, people were taking photographs and next I arrived at Piccadilly Circus where I checked out the buses.

Boarding a 94 bus I knew I was on my way as it ended its journey at Acton Green where I thought I would be able to catch another bus to Ealing Broadway.

I sat on the top deck looking out of the window and as the bus went along Oxford Street it got rather crowded and three Arab girls and their mother boarded the bus and one of them sat next to me. They were dressed in jeans, tops and headscarves, their mother wore a hijab.

At Notting Hill Gate the girl next to me turned and said, “Shepherds Bush?”

“It’s further along. I’ll tell you when we get there.”

She returned to tapping out messages in Arabic on her mobile phone. I looked out of the window and noted that at least not all pubs had disappeared but we were approaching the roundabout at Shepherds Bush and I said to the girl next to me, “Next stop is Shepherds Bush.”

She said nothing and as the bus got to the other side and was pulling up at Shepherds Bush Green I said to her, “This is your stop. Aren’t you getting off?”

She rang the bell, which was a bit of waste of time because the bus was at its stop so the girl and her sisters and mother alighted from the bus. Gradually the bus was emptying out and along Goldhawk Road I looked out of my window to see a building encased in scaffolding, on the building were the words, ‘Goldhawk Road,’ I thought, Another building pulled down with merely the facade remaining.

The bus went along a really nice route, there was a large pub on one corner after which the buildings were old but in very good order in fact one house stood alone and had been built out of large stones in different shades of brown and the cement was pure white.

Finally the bus arrived at its journey’s end, I disembarked and walked along looking at the houses and a park, where a young woman was pushing a pushchair and a child was walking along by her side.

I could not find another bus route out of there to Ealing Broadway but there was a sign pointing to a tube station and I could see tubes running along up high on a bank. I walked under the railway bridge and found, to my delight, a tube station. It was Chiswick Park, I studied the map and saw that I was but a few stops from Ealing Broadway.

Entering the station I walked upstairs and was amazed at what I saw. I was looking over four railway tracks. My curiosity was soon answered as a Piccadilly Line train ran along one of the centre rails. It would appear that the Piccadilly Line uses the two centre lines and does not stop.

Along the platform from me was a windowed area, the windows had green edging and did not reach the roof. This I discovered was the waiting room. At last the large tired looking District train could be seen approaching soon I would be in Ealing Broadway.

At Ealing Broadway I wandered around looking for a place to eat, they all seemed to be cafes, chain food places or foreign food. Across the road I could see a place called Bill’s and there were a few people sat outside it. I crossed the road and looked at the menu, all they appeared to have were sandwiches.

Despondently I went along to the North Star pub, I had often used it when I used to work for Ealing Council, but the menu was not very impressive.  I walked along towards Ealing Common where I would catch my train home. The first pub I came across did not look good, but nearby was a pub where people were seated outside.

I wandered in and made my way to the bar, they had a good selection of real ales and I noticed in a reflection the name, Wetherspoons. I ordered a pint and looked around the pub. There were pictures taken from old Ealing films and featured, Sir Alec Guinness, a very young Joan Collins and many others. I found a seat on a leather bench, but as it was beneath an air conditioning unit it was too cold and hence I walked up a few stairs to a smaller table and eventually ordered a mixed grill which came with a beer and so I ordered different ale.

The food was good and the egg was almost cooked properly but then for £7.75, who am I to complain?

Having eaten I left the Sir Michael Balcon pub and  walked along to Ealing Common tube station but on the green by the traffic lights I noticed a few caravans parked, does this mean a fairground is due or were they gypsies?

What did I care, a young woman passed me carrying two large bags of shopping and every so often she would haul the bags up alternately presumably to strengthen her arms.

Once I boarded the tube I knew it would not be long before I’d be home and have a nice cup of tea. Yes it had been a very nice day out.





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