The Sunday morning coffee concerts at Wigmore Hall are an institution and a fine way to experience time travel. Every Sunday at 11:30 the hall plays host to a soloist or a small ensemble for a concert of just about an hour. Depending on the week, there might be piano sonatas on the program or lieder, string quartets or a clarinet trio, Bach's cello suites or something obscure by someone unknown. I never check the program before I go: The music's always great.
The pleasure doesn't stop at the ears. Wigmore Hall was built around 1900 and decorated in the taste of the times. Throughout the concerts listeners can feast their eyes on the big mural at the head of the hall and in the dome above the stage extolling the divinity of humankind, rays of progress, the new man. I'm always vaguely reminded of the communist hero depictions I grew up with.
To complete a triumvirate of sensory experiences, after the show, the audience is invited into the basement café where tickets can be traded for glasses of sherry or, for those of austerer disposition, coffee. Inspired by music and enlivened by alcohol, the grey-haired crowd mingles and contemplates in which leisurely way to spend yet another quiet Sunday.
It is here that time travel comes into play. All through the concert but especially at this coda, I feel like 80, blending in with those around me, and start imagining the days of my retirement. Breakfast cooked by the staff, a concert at Wigmore Hall, a stroll through Regent's Park and up towards Primrose Hill for lunch, and then somewhere lovely for tea. Ta-ta, life is good.
Today it was easy to shake of the delusion of premature aging. It was, to sing the refrain to a song that's getting increasingly tiresome, cold and blustery. As I left the venue, still under the graceful glass-and-iron canopy that protects the entrance, all thoughts of leisurely strolls were blown from my mind. I ran to Bond Street and hopped on the tube, off to activities more suitable for my age.