Friends, familiarity and fun

Some weeks ago in Regent Street we experienced some amazing customer service. I saw a jacket (but not with those trousers) that I liked and Dee kindly offered by buy it for me as a birthday present. Of course they didn’t have my size but since this was J Crew and we knew we were going to America soon we asked if they had any stock in my size in or around Boston. The guy serving us, who just happened to hail from Boston, checked the computer and found there was one at the store in Chestnut Hill Mall which we happened to be familiar with from our time of living in Brookline just a little way back in along Rte 9. He then amazed us by calling and speaking to a colleague, allowing Dee to pay for it by credit card – less than it would have been in London – and agreeing to hold it for us.

So after our day in the Met Bar we set off to Copley T station, bought go anywhere Charlie cards for $19 each and proceeded to board an outbound train. I had done a route search which told us to get off after two stops at Kenmore Square and take a bus, but we saw Chestnut Hill on the route map in the T so decided to stay on the train. Do as you are told! It was a fun ride through the suburbs but Chestnut Hill Station is rather a long way from the eponymous mall – like a mile and it’s midday and nearing 90 degrees. Mad dogs and Englishmen sound familiar? Well we made it, the coat was miraculously there waiting and it fits. They had a 50% sale on so I got a rather fetching shirt to go with it. We had a wander round the mall and then as previously advised by the Mass Bay Transit Authority took the number 60 which starts outside Bloomingdales and delivers us back to Kenmore Square from where we head back to Copley and drop stuff off.

We had spoken to our good friend Daisy about meeting up and so she came around and then we went to a exhibition of quilts together at the Museum of Fine Arts. It was a real eye-opener. The majority of them were made by Amish or Mennonite communities which one associates with plain colours and fabrics. These quilts almost literally jumped off the walls as us since many of them featured complementary colours from the spectrum which cause that optical dissonance which makes them appear to vibrate and shimmer. We wondered how such plain living folk had come by such colourful and patterned fabrics and still don’t have the answer. Some we liked, some we didn’t but it was a fascinating exhibition.

Dee and I had also spotted signs for modern Japanese prints, ceramics and bamboo sculpture so we set off through the impressive halls of the MFA (need to spend more time here as in so many galleries back home) where some very interesting prints showed young artists rediscovering the techniques of the ukiyo-e woodblock printers whose work has been admired and described in several previous blogs. The applications of the techniques were extremely varied ranging from almost animated line drawing to impressionist water colours. I was staggered in the next exhibit to see what artists can do with bamboo. As well as modern takes on various kinds of container there were completely abstract expressions of great skill and beauty. We also discovered that the MFA has 50,000 antique woodblock prints which it can’t possibly display but is in the process of digitizing so they can be viewed online. By the time we’d finished our visit – the museum is open late on Wednesdays and free after 4 pm although you still have to queue to pick up your non-ticket – it was around 9 so Daisy headed back home to Somerville and we headed back to the Met Bar for a light snack before heading somewhat wearily to 271 Dartmouth. There was confirmation on the TV that Independence Day was going to be a day early in Boston this year to avoid the ravages of hurricane Arthur. Good weather forecasting guys!

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