Friday, March 09, 2007

I'm so annoyed to have lost the little cable that connects my camera to my computer. I took a great shot of City Hall on Wednesday, the first time I've had reason to visit, on a sunny day when so many were strolling and joggingor just hanging about along the river by Tower Bridge.

I should have known it was a waste of time anyway. I'd gone to see a Chinese documentary film that I'd received notice of by email. I must have got the dates mixed up, because the people at the front desk didn't know anything about it, and neither did the assistant downstairs. I asked could I check with the Internet but despite its hi-tech appearance the building is bereft of a computer for public use.

It must be dizzying to work in a circular building where the architects were set on emphasising its roundness - it was hard enough for me to to have to negotiate spiral ramps or come out from the lift to see a yellow wall veering to left and right in a continual curve and not know how long I'd walk before knew I'd chosen the wrong direction. There's something comforting, as I now realise, about a corner you can see ahead, no matter how distant.

Another maddening place where you can never be sure the people on the front desk know what's going on behind them is the School of Oriental and African Studies. After my Chinese class in Soho yesterday I went with Canadian Barbara to confirm there's to be a Beijing Opera show there next Tuesday. It did seem unlikely but someone had sent her an email.

Barbara was surprised when I said I'd go with her but I had made a mistake about the day to meet another sinophile chum, for lunch in Chinatown - at least I'd forgotten to confirm, so now it's to be next week instead. This happens to me a lot lately.

It was another sunny afternoon, with a crowd of international students milling about between the two buildings at the corner of Russell Square and we could hear chatter in a dozen or more languages as we walked up the steps, of first the Brunei Gallery and then the main building. No joy to be had in either - Beijing Opera was not on the schedule. 'Next Tuesday?' asked the counter assistant, hinting that it was an awfully distant date for her to know anything about, and, 'Is it an outside organisation?' as if SOAS has a resident Chinese opera troupe that had escaped her notice.

This morning Barbara tracedthe source of the email and confirmed there is indeed a Beijing Opera performance at SOAS next Tuesday. What's more, it's free. My favourite price,and definitely Barbara's.

I've checked all the other bits of download cable that are about, but I won't go straight out and buy another before I've waited a couple of days. Like most things in my possession for more than about half an hour it has been mislaid and will turn up.

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