Last day in London
Tuesday, 19 February 2008
Glamorous morning yesterday. Ange dropped Joseph and the kids off at school, and the two of us headed into town. First stop: floor five at Harvey Nichols. Ludicrously expensive muffins and coffee, surrounded by women in scary makeup and black leather pants. (This cost us £22: if I’m sleeping in the streets of Sorrento in a fortnight, you’ll know why.) Then where else but Harrod’s, where we found a scarily realistic waxwork of the owner benignly but insanely overseeing his customers, while the man himself was busily accusing everyone in the Western world of complicity in Diana’s death. Looked at lipstick and ties for a bit before heading off to the food court for lunch. Fabulous!
But it wasn’t all high culture. Ange escorted me to the Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s extraordinary. I can only compare it to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam (of which more later), in that it consists of room after room of baffling objects from all over the world and all throughout history. I spent some time looking at neolithic Chinese burial artefacts, before wandering desultorily through the rest of the museum. The highlights included some huge tapestry patterns by Raphael and corridors of wrought iron railings. I was about to give up when I came upon an extraordinary room.
Apparently the Victorians loved doing plaster casts of churches and statues and monuments. One room in the V & A contains giant casts of Trajan’s Column, as well as dozens of Christian artefacts, including the huge main doorway of the church at Santiago de Compostela. The adjoining room has a huge plaster statue of David. Impressive and curiously kitsch at the same time!
I gave the Science Museum a try, but apart from Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine, nothing really grabbed me, so I headed off to the Natural History Museum in search of dinosaurs. Entering by the side door, I mistakenly thought that the entire museum was obsessed with geology. I was about to leave disappointed (sorry, Sara), when I found a wall covered in dozens of fossil ichthyosaurs, and then the museum’s entry hall with its massive Diplodocus skeleton.
Had a quick pint in Charing Cross Road before meeting Sarah in Soho. We had a delicious dinner of tapas, walked across Waterloo Bridge, more pints, and then off home to Gary’s place. A great night. I must try and see Sarah more often. If that means coming to London more frequently, well I guess that’s what I’ll have to do.
Today was altogether quieter. Wandered around Dulwich with Ange and her friend Rachel. A delicious pub lunch, my last pints of English bitter for the foreseeable future (tomorrow, Heineken), and now home, blogging and preparing for my plane to Amsterdam tomorrow morning.