Monday, February 23, 2009

Braving the multitudes.

I've mentioned a town in England a couple of times recently, called London. It's in the south east near a large stream, with a bridge or two and a ferris wheel some carnies have erected nearby. Nice caff just near the church which does a decent egg and chips.

Obviously, I'm kidding. The egg and chips aren't that good.

No, London is a fairly sizeable metropolis with literally hundreds of people in it. About 750,000 hundreds in fact. I went there last weekend to visit some chums, and in between it's an interesting place to look around, especially for a country type like me. So, I packed a couple of carrots and my overnight stuff in a hollowed out turnip and off I went. Every few years, if I find myself on my own in London with a few hours to spare, I like to visit the Natural History Museum, as it's relaxing, informative, beautiful and free. So I dutifully took advantage of my valuable self-time and scurried there, only to forget that I have never been on a Saturday during half-term.

This is what greeted me:

I was going to relive pleasant childhood memories of looking at the dinosaur skeletons, where I used to be awed by how big a stegosauruses back plates were, or amazed by how much like a giant chicken's claw a T. rex's foot looks. Unfortunately, the crowds meant it was an hour's wait just to get in to the chamber! I looked around for something else to do and saw that the museum had rightfully installed Charles Darwin's statue in pride of place at the head of the main hall:

Right, I thought, I'll go and look at the new Darwin exhibition. I'm quite a fan of ol' Chucky D and his truthful blasphemy, and thought that I should show my support for these kinds of exhibitions, educating our society about some of their greatest minds. They would have collections brought back by the man himself on the Beagle, his works from Down house, perhaps some of his tools, observations or numerous letters. It would all be a good insight into the man himself, something for me to think about.

Unfortunately, it was £8.80 to get in, so instead, I photographed an owl with a Victorian's pencil stuck in its lughole:

After a brief wonder round some other halls (including the creepy crawly one where, last time I went, I saw that the leaf-cutter ants had escaped and were cutting up lino) I decided it was too much and went for a walk round Hyde park, which is basically London's rec where people can jog and walk their horses. To get there, I had to travel by underground, and it seemed as though most of the population had decided to quit surface dwelling and opt for a troglodytic existence in the bowels of the Earth. It was like a Morlock colony down there.

And everyone wanted to go to a different bit of underground. I can't see the point of seats at all, as you can't get close to them, let alone sit on them. I took a photo of one just leaving the station:

If anyone transported sheep like that, there would rightfully be an outcry. And some dip. Yet we actually pay to get moved along like that!

You may have read in previous posts that I'm not a huge fan of crowds, but this was so extreme it was actually quite interesting. One must put aside any prior notions of personal space and aversion to body odour, and you're quite welcome to read over other peoples shoulders, or listen to their iPod (they're so close you're practically wearing their earphones), but the huge cultural mish-mash, the variety of languages and the spectrum of fashion makes for quite a good exercise in anthropology. Diane Fossey would've loved it, if she could have stood the smell.

At least the underground is helpful to drunks, and makes you give up your seat for them, as this notice demonstrates. The only thing is, you have to be so inebriated you can barely walk:

Unfortunately, I was still relatively sober, so I had to stand and examine a construction worker's armpit whilst desperately trying not to accidentally look down the lady's top next to me.

I had a good weekend though.


  1. Hi. I just found your blog, having come from somewhere else and I am so glad I did, because of the exchanging of the Darwin exhibit for a stuffed owl with a pencil run through it.

  2. That underground car-pulley-type-tranportation thingy... it'll never catch on. I mean.. WHO ever heard of scurrying through the bowels of the earth, rather than being up on top of the oul sod?

    For a start, think of all the wondrous sights they'll miss. I've seen the movie, Oliver! The way the lassie's come a-swinging and a-swaying through the streets, asking who will buy their sweet red roses.

    The cheeky chirpy chimbley sweeps with their chuckle inducing cockerney accents. Ladies flying through the air with magical parasols and flying iron beds!

    Nahhh... no one's gonnae miss out on all that wonderful Londinium life just to go pot holing under the soil.

    Head back to that nice caff and enjoy a fine plate of authentic bread & butter dumplings, with fried rice onion bhajis, and boiled goats craw, all for under a shilling.
    If you see John Smith from Drumchapel, say hi to him from me. You can't miss him, he lives in a big house near a butchers shop.

    Toodle pip.

  3. Dian Fossey had no interest in the human masses. That's why she preferred to hang out with us.

  4. What you hadn't realised was that all these people had come to see you. They're following you around without you noticing it.

    Speaking as someone who ambles round the metropolis on a daily basis (having lost my ticket home), I loathe crowds. I find the prospect of being 'chaffed' by a stranger on the tube strangely unalluring.

  5. Kurt - Hi - welcome along. Just been perusing yours as well and thought I would follow.

    Jimmy - Think I saw John Smith in the farm shop, but he was chatting to the vicar of London about the fete so I didn't interrupt.

    Also, lol @ chimbley sweeps.

    Mr Bananas - Ms Fossey was renowned for her taste and manners. Not like that Jane Goodall tramp.

    Mdme DeF - And people thought I was paranoid when I shouted "Stop Following Me!" on Regent Street. It's enough to make you stamp on your tin-foil hat in annoyance.

  6. You brought back some fond memories. London was the first city outside of North America that I ever visited (1981) before heading off to Paris and Rome. I love much about it, but perhaps most? The Victoria and Albert Museum.


I'm going to risk taking comment moderation off for a bit, so if you're a web-bot, a robot, a bot-fly or a bottom-dwelling sediment-feeder, then please refrain from commenting.

Otherwise, have a go. S'fun.