This afternoon I am off to "China: The Three Emperors, 1662—1795", the exhibition at the Royal Academy devoted to the artistic and cultural riches of Imperial China. I wish I could say that I was going because of the Chinese New Year next weekend, but in fact I am going because I was talking to Hugh about it at Bondy's party before Christmas and he suggested that we put a date in our diaries.
I wish I was more organised about this sort of thing in London. I finally listened to my CD's of Persian Fire that last time that I drove down to Cardiff and back, which caused me to regret missing 'Forgotten Empire - the World of Ancient Persia' at the British Museum. Any extra knowledge of the huge contribution of Persia to the culture of the world would be a balm during the current tension with Iran.
Even more ridiculously, back in 2004 I went to the Rubens exhibition at the Palais des Beaux-Arts when we were in Lille after I read about it in the Spectator, but still couldn't manage to drag myself along to Rubens: A Master in the Making in the National Gallery which is only a tube journey away. I particularly regret that - if regret is an appropriate word for such a pathetic failure do get up off my backside - because one painting in Lille, an Adoration of the Magi, was the first one that I ever saw that made me think that I could spend tens of hours looking at it seeing new things all the time from how the paint was applied to the detail of the costume and what that tells us of the time.