A combination of sheer laziness and poverty drove me and my designated art buddy MaM to The British Museum.
Poverty because I didn’t feel like forking out £8 to see some pricey exhibit (at the Natural History on strange animal sex) when there were plenty of alternative freebies. Laziness because I couldn’t be arsed to look up if there was anything more contemporary going on and because the British Museum is just a nice place to have a wander around.
In the 8 years I’ve been in London I’ve never gotten further than the first room in the British Museum. I used to go there to draw statues badly in pencil (and then never look at them again), and drawing badly took so long that by the time I had finished I was all statued out and ready to go home.
I had forgotten how beautiful the place was and how vast. It was a glorious sunny day and the main hall way with its massive glass roof was stunning. Tourists were going crazy.
I wish I could say I learned something.
MaM learned that the Rosetta Stone wasn’t named after a language software program developed by a woman called ‘Rosetta Stone’. That was a valuable lesson.
Mostly we ignored the historical artifacts and discussed instead relationships, sex, gaygiri and strap-ons loudly and unashamedly while wandering about with the hordes of tourists.
There were many children within ear-shot, but it’s never too early to learn about the joy of a strap-on. Sex ed. is so important these days.
Of course, my bad little habit cropped up.
I tried to resist. But the pull was too strong. I found my phone sneaking its way up – dragging itself out of my jeans pocket.
Instead of observing first hand, I opted instead to distance myself from any real experience by taking so many photos that my phone gave up in despair and died.
I worry that this constant taking of photos is destroying my ability to observe and recall visually. I’m realize that I’m also not analysing and critiquing. I’m just wandering blindly, firing my camera like a pistol. Bang bang bang.
After I had blogged for a while, I realised just the exercise of writing events down helped make me notice things both while they were happening and in retrospect. It’s easy to forget events and conversations without the daily practice of writing them down.
However owning an actual photo, an artifact, is so much more pleasing once the event is over to look through, that even the fear that my observational abilities are being eroded won’t stop me from clicking away.
We managed to walk our way right across Assyria, Egypt, ancient Greece, across medieval Britain and on to Europe. I realise have poor museum etiquette – I just barge in front of people to read the plaques. I hate waiting and have no shame.
The clock room was the last room we could be bothered with. They had some amazing timepieces. One was a cow that was milked on the hour by a mechanical milkmaid. The cow even had a little reservoir that could be filled with a liquid that would come out of the udders. There was also a great gold battle ship that fired cannons. Another had ball bearings that zig zagged across a board that tilted every 30 seconds. (Unreliable really – that would never work on a boat.)
The gift shop was the last stop. It is a tradition to pay a visit to the gift shop, regardless of whether you want to buy anything. MaM says she takes gift shops very seriously and I love them too. As a child everything in a gift shop, however tatty, was something to be greatly desired.
We were however were severely disappointed by indifferent quality of the tat in the gift shop. With the wealth of amazing jewelry, artifacts and objects d’art, the gift shop was totally lacking in inspiration.
Outside the Museum there were better junk shops. We stopped at one which had a sea-side cut-out thing. Where you stick your head in it. You know.
It was a Beefeater holding Paddington bear’s hand. So of course, I asked Mam to pose, which she did most obligingly. I took various ones, directing her to look here and there. Then she took the only one of me.
By this time a little group of tourists had gathered around us, watching in awe, and waiting to try it themselves. As soon as we vacated the cut-out tourists immediately jumped right in there. We had started a trend.
Take that photo, preserve that memory for all time. Look! Look! What a good time we’re having!
I’m not mocking the tourists, I do the same thing. Even if I don’t want to, I can’t help it.
See? See? Look at all these photos! Look! Look! Memories, so many memories.