Unusually, this post has only one photograph, of Regents Canal on our morning walk. We felt very lucky to be staying so close to what is a historic waterway and also increasingly a part of modern London. The redevelopment around the canal would astonish those who might have seen it in the Fifties, decrepit and surrounded by bomb sites. Now, Mile End has been cleared for green space and the canal itself hosts narrow boats used for permanent accommodation, while the suburbs on the City bank are being rapidly developed with apartments and Queen Mary University. The canal itself goes all the way to Kings Cross Station and beyond and carried goods from the northern counties down to the docks. Most impressive, with the water rushing over the lock reliefs, and lots of water birds.

For the rest of the day, I didn’t carry a camera and didn’t both with the iPhone. I’ve taken many pictures in the Imperial War Museum and the moody lighting in the wonderful First World War Gallery makes it a lot of work for not much; and the highlight for us was the Holocaust section, in which photography was not permitted. So we walked unencumbered through this magnificent building, less a memorial than Canberra but still a moving tribute, and certainly attempting to be honest about Britain’s condition at the beginning of the Great War. The Holocaust installations, occupying two floors, are moving in a different way, deeply challenging in their condemnation of the persecution of ordinary Germans and Poles, appalling in the documentation of the machinery of extermination. Auschwitz confronts, terrifies and depresses. This leaves one sad but thinking of how often we reenact this atrocity in small ways and large in the 21st Century.

In the evening, we had the thrill of seeing Kenneth Branagh and Judy Dench in A Winter’s Tale. I’ve got no intention of writing a full review, but Dame Judy as Paulina was a bit of revelation. Branagh’s direction focused attention on the strength of the character of this ‘wise woman’ who plays such a role in the resolution of the knot into which the play ties itself. After Othello in one Act, a mini-version of As You Like It and Much Ado rolled into the second and third, and then a bunch of rustics before the whizz-bang conclusion, it’s quite a hard play to pull off. Comedy it ain’t, but as a romance it was in safe hands, and the mastery of Shakespeare’s language shown by this 83-year old marvel capped off a wonderful day.

LATER:

I forgot to mention that John Lithgow was at the play and was behind me all the way through interval! Something to remember, even though I’ve only ever seen him in his films.