It is some time since I last walked across Trafalgar Square. Last time, I remember, Nelson's column was enclosed by scaffolding and boarded up with a huge mural suggesting that it was under the sea. Today (or rather yesterday), I look up to see that the admiral has been scrubbed clean. Instead of the black statue that used to stare down Whitehall, there is one of pristine white as it must have been when new.
On my way into Tate Britain to see the Holbein exhibition, I notice what looks like a still life on a wall by itself. It resembles a picture by the Spanish painter, Sanchez Cotàn, who lived from 1560 - 1627. Cotàn was famous for small very simple still lifes where vegetables and sometime fruit are arranged in an inset in a wall, with some items suspended by pieces of string. In this instance the picture could, for a moment, have been mistaken for Cotàn's Still Life with Cabbage, Quince, Melon and Cucumber. Only there is a vegetable marrow instead of the cucumber and, instead of the quince, a pomegranate. The big surprise comes when, after you have been looking at the picture for a minute, the pomegranate, which has been hanging from a piece of string, explodes scattering its seeds, while the broken husk swings slowly to and fro. It is not a picture at all but a video, a contemporary work by Ori Gersht. It's worth a visit to Tate Britain just to see this surprising artifact.
I buy a cup of tea at the cafe in the corner of Charing Cross station and find myself a chair at a round table where two other people are sitting. I look down to sort out something in my case, and then look up to see that the tea, as yet un-sipped, has vanished. I return to the counter to find that the assistant, a girl with a high pitched voice like a bird, has cleared it away. "You've taken my tea," I said. "Why didn't you stop me?" she said. Not a beautiful thing, but a decidedly curious one,