January 7, 2007
The human hand is always at work–making a bracket for the lantern, shaping the rail. Can’t leave well enough alone; must decorate, must slap some Extra on there.
At the V & A: Might as well put a heroic guy on the corner. Somebody’s going to be looking up here.
Tower of London: Deceptively cheerful.
Military officers still live within the walls of the castle, I’m told. I didn’t know quite what to make of this place: the crowds lined up to see the Crown Jewels, the tidy perfection of the buildings. This is a seriously loaded place, people–I’m pretty sure there were at least ten ghosts sitting on the bench with me while we watched the ravens.
Imperial War Museum: Clif and Hubbo in some kind of World War II bomber. The Imperial War Museum at first looks like a building full of machinery, and that’s mostly what we looked at. But there’s little glorification of war here. A museum like this is a grim reminder, and I’m glad I went. There’s an alarming 20-foot John Singer Sargent painting, “Gassed,” and a Tibetan Peace Garden which was blessed by the coolest guy in the universe, the Dalai Lama, in 1999. Anybody with a young child looks at this museum with a shudder.
Globe Theatre: We almost didn’t go here–I had no confidence about a seven year old’s tolerance for a replica of Shakespeare’s theater. Hell, I can’t even remember the plots of the plays anymore. But our guide, Jane, was so wonderful that everybody hung in there, and I now have Shakespeare fever. I’m reading Stephen Greenblatt’s Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare.
Tate Modern: Child Ejectors. Finally, a museum understands what you do with unruly kids.
British Museum: The triumph of limestone.
We visited the very peculiar house of John Soane, an architect who liked to collect antiquities and paintings. “Having been deeply disappointed by the conduct of his two sons, he determined to establish the house as a museum to which ‘amateurs and students’ should have access.” At one point, we descended into the basement and nearly tripped over a pair of legs sticking out from a nook. It was a guard, either asleep or frozen, or maybe just dead.
I reserve the right to open my house as a museum should the conduct of my two sons deeply disappoint me . . .