It felt a bit odd but, as Nick at Work said, it’s a way for the museum to say thank you for any hard work we’ve done, regardless. So, of course, I went to the Volunteer Awards tonight. And I’m glad I did. It was a lot of fun.
The lead up wasn’t good as I was caught in various types of weather and transport problems throughout the day.
At the gym, for starters, I left at 9am as usual, walking to the bus stop where I waited for the bus that normally comes at about ten past. Although gloomy and grey, it wasn’t raining. My app told me the bus was about three minutes away. All was well.
30 minutes later, wet and miserable, I boarded the next bus. When I alighted in Farnham I noticed the bus I normally catch pull in behind. I don’t know what happened. The app is usually accurate so all I can imagine is that the bus was held up, taken hostage and driven to Glasgow first.
This was not my only encounter with wet weather.
Being a bit clever I decided to catch the bus to the station at the hospital where there’s a shelter. The sun was out as I sat reading, waiting for the bus. Then the hail started. The shelter would have been perfect had the hail been falling from behind the shelter rather than directly into the shelter from the road. Fortunately it was only little pebbles of hail rather than golf balls. Still…
The train into Waterloo was fine but heading downstairs to the Northern Line a big, thick, grey, noxious cloud sat low and evil on the platform. People were leaving a train, faces covered, looking grimmer than usual. I was about to follow them and change to the Bakerloo when a station announcement assured us all was well and the problem was the train that had just left.
This was true. As we approached Embankment our train stopped and waited. The driver kept us apprised as to what was happening. The train in front of us had been declared defective (anyone on or around it could have told them that) and everyone was being ‘detrained’, which is a TfL word meaning emptied.
Eventually we pulled into Embankment where a huge crowd of disgruntled yet compliant commuters stood, waiting.
The station had gone into some sort of cage lock down as potential passengers were held at gates in order to keep the crowded platforms as safe as possible. It was like some strange underground episode of The Walking Dead with Walkers trying to get through the iron grills. Quite surreal.
No zombies for me though as I was straight through to South Kensington.
I was waiting outside the museum when the exit doors opened and I joined the other volunteer staff being ticked off the guest list. I always worry that I’m not going to be on the list and prepare to say I’m Nick or Howard or even Carolyne but, as usual, my name was on the list and I went upstairs to dump my coat and get a required red wine. (I would have had a beer but they didn’t have any. Someone had bought something called Budweiser which, as real drinkers know, is just lolly water with a massive advertising budget.)
Eventually the awards started. Naturally I wasn’t mentioned having not actually been to the museum since last August but Howard was. Howard loves doing anything and everything at the museum. He loves his volunteering so much I can only assume his wife is glad to get rid of him. After last years success with Cosmonauts, Howard is now working on the Robots exhibition. For this he was given the teamwork award along with the rest of his group of intrepid robot cat strokers.
Then the highlight of the night as the Supervisor of the Year award was announced. Last year was the first time this award was introduced. We all nominated Nick but he missed out because of Cosmonauts. This year I was worried that he’d miss out again because of Robots.
The delight on his face when he won was fantastic. He came over to us, certificate in hand, asking us if we’d nominated him. Of course, we said, as if we wouldn’t. I told him that one of the main reasons I love coming to the museum was because of him. I also thanked him for the autonomy and trust.
He told me how much the staff in the basement miss our banter. When he rattled off the list of people now down there (11) I told him I only knew two! I told him I missed Jess who has a very dry sense of humour and with whom I regularly swap travel stories. He told me she missed me as well. I said this was because I distracted him from telling her nautical stories.
We then all had a special after hours tour of the Robots exhibition which features all manner of freaky and amazing machines (including a brilliant set of robotic legs which I was tempted to steal). The robot from Metropolis (or a copy given the original was destroyed a long time ago) was there as well as one of the Terminators.
The night was soon over and we all drifted off under orders from Nicola and her sparkly shoes.
The train rides home were, thankfully, eventless.