Mayhem in London

We were in London creating mayhem yesterday. This morning Jeannie asked if I was happy having paid £60 for a bottle of Gavi and a bowl of rigatoni alla puttanesca I couldn't finish, as well as £200 for a musical instrument I didn't strictly need and the answer was an unequivocal yes, even though it has broken the bank for the rest of this month and there will be no Christmas!

But unexpected expense to one side, the real reason we were in London was to see the wonderful Lucian Freud exhibition at the Royal Academy, after which J was due to meet some old choir friends and I was due at the Guardian offices to hear Polly Toynbee talk about writing opinion pieces followed by Tim Dowling on putting yourself at centre of your writing, which I am duly doing here. The lunch came in between and as we left the restaurant on the way to Jeannie's rendezvous, we happened to go into Macari's on Charing Cross Road to buy a shaky egg for Jeannie to rattle on one or two numbers. The bloke in charge must have seen me coming, or Jeannie must have somehow managed to whisper in his ear without me noticing because he suddenly exclaimed "I've got the perfect Christmas present for him!" and whipped out a very small stringed instrument. He twanged a bit of Appalachian-style stuff and I was immediately sold. And so was the Mountain Dulcimer - for that is what its official description is. I took it with me to the Guardian offices and somewhat reluctantly was prevailed upon to give an impromptu recital in the canteen before going in to hear Polly and Tim's words of wisdom.

Took a few snaps and as usual, for the night shots I should have had my tripod with me, but you can't always anticipate these things.

Across from the gents in the Royal Academy is a sort of waiting room. I asked Jeannie to sit in the room ad took some quite nice shots. Like the brickwork, but I like the lady better.

Soho at night. My favourite Italian cafe on the right. Its been there since the 1950s. I thought I would be a treat for Jeannie but it turned out she'd been there before.

Just a nice shot. My little Elf.

The substance of the trip. Brilliant Lucian Freud 'selfie' exhibition.

For any readers who have seen the recent excellent BBC detective thriller Girl/Haji, this could her been rent boy Rodney and his friend 20 years later.