Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Rationalism and Nostalgia in London

On Monday afternoon I took the train to London for the Rationalist Association AGM. This was held in the Library of the Bishopsgate Institute. There were only about twenty people there, including the three speakers, considerably less than last year's meeting at the Arts Guild. No doubt this was due in part to the heat. The main topic was the intention to concentrate efforts on electronic media rather than print, following current trends in the media. Opening an online forum was mentioned and I pointed put that there used to be one, but it was closed down. I hope it will be an open forum and not just for members, as a closed forum (as with the BHA members forum) can be rather dull, though of course it would require more moderators. I also complained about the lack of a question and answer session at the Aaronovitch meeting earlier in the year, arguing that such a session is essential to any rationalist meeting, otherwise it can seem patronising and authoritarian. A talk by Jonathan Miller, the RA President, to be given in the main hall at the BI, is planned for later in the year.

On the way to the meeting I walked from London Bridge station, taking a route deliberately past the base of 30 St Mary Ax, otherwise known as the "Gherkin", since I hadn't seen it from close up. It is all very neatly done, with the diamond-shaped panels right down to ground level. I had a coffee and Pret bar in the cafe opposite. Since I was early I also took a walk round Exchange Square on the other side of Bishopsgate. The architecture, both new and old, is impressive, but I can't say the same for the sculpture of a big woman reclining on one side of the square; I've no idea what if anything she is intended to represent. After the meeting I took a stroll to the east and ended up in Jewry Street by Sir John Cass College which I attended for a while some fifty years ago. This led down to the Tower of London, and I walked across Tower Bridge, and past the building that used to be St Olaves Grammar School, now being converted into a hotel. Then up Tooley Street to catch my train back to Hastings. The next day I felt quite tired, from the heat, and still do to an extent.

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