Sunday, 18 November 2012

V and A

We’ve been at the V and A museum all day celebrating Raily’s birthday a few weeks early. Tanya was down from Scotland, Meriel, Hilary and Jago came up from Lewes and Sam appeared, as if by magic, from behind a piece of Ming pottery.

I’m not entirely sure that I’m a museum man, but it’s difficult to be uninspired for long with that particular set of friends. Watching Sam talking to little Wills and Jeanie about a giant statue of the Hindu God, Shiva was somewhat awe-inspiring, and taught me that I know very little about Eastern culture. That said, the joy about going around a museum with a group of people with such extraordinary minds is that any exhibit is likely to trigger an extra nugget of information, as displayed when we entered a little room which Ian suddenly announced had been the focus of his MA dissertation. He’d apparently spent so long in the room over a four-week period that the museum staff had provided him with his own special chair. He showed us some really quirky artefacts including a piece of leaded window with a set of romantic poems and inscriptions scratched into the panes of glass with a diamond ring, rumoured to be the handiwork of Charles I when he was imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle.
So, I (Meriel) have taken over because Ben is tired! After wondering around the costume gallery and deciding what we would wear (I just said I would take everything), we played on a light sculpture that gave the effect, in light, of making snow angels. We ate lovely cake in Pat Vals and then spicy noodles in a chap and cheerful cafe. It was time to say goodbye to the hordes and Ben asked if I wanted to go to for a walk.  I decided we needed to try and find the river. Amazingly, I found it! Not bad for someone with no sense of direction who couldn’t find her way around the V and A. We walked along the river to Leicester Square, and I was reminded of Wilde’s poem about the Thames:

An omnibus across the bridge
Crawls like a yellow butterfly,
And, here and there, a passer-by
Shows like a little restless midge.

Big barges full of yellow hay
Are moored against the shadowy wharf,
And, like a yellow silken scarf,
The thick fog hangs along the quay.

The yellow leaves begin to fade
And flutter from the Temple elms,
And at my feet the pale green Thames
Lies like a rod of rippled jade.

There were amazing globe like lights and we talked and talked and put the world to rights as much as we could.

We got back to Ben’s flat and were so thirsty we drank 3 glasses of Vimto! – pleasingly retro. I admired Isadora, Benjamin’s pot plant, who used to be a mere sprout and is now a veritable tree.

On this day in 1662, Pepys had a busy day, which culminated in him making ‘Mrs. Gosnell sing’. Mrs Gosnell was being ‘auditioned’ as a live-in companion for his wife. He was mightily pleased with her humour and singing which is unsurprising as she went on to become an actress. They went by water to Whitehall, (which I wish I could have done today), where they saw ‘The Scornfull Lady’ being performed.  ‘It being fine moonshine, we took coach and home, and went to supper and to bed, my mind being troubled at what my wife tells me, that her woman will not come till she hears from her mother, for I am so fond of her that I am loth now not to have her, though I know it will be a great charge to me which I ought to avoid, and so will make it up in other things. So to bed.’

And so are we!

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