Well, that’s another hellish day of half term lunacy over and done with. Today was the worst yet. When I left work at 4pm, the queue outside the Natural History Museum still stretched along Exhibition Road and turned down Cromwell. I’m amazed that parents would willingly put themselves through it.
The worst part for me is always lunchtime. I’ve given up going to the museum café on a half term day. Normally I pop over to Starbucks even though it’s a good deal further than a standard ‘pop’ but today I noticed a Paul just opposite the entrance to South Kensington tube.
Paul is one of our favourite lunch places (‘our’ as in Mirinda and me…and it’s not called Paul’s) and I’d never noticed this one before. It has tables outside, spilling onto the pedestrianised road and a few tables upstairs. It looked very Parisian. How could I possibly go anywhere else?
They’ve been going since 1889 but I’m fairly certain that’s not in London.
I was actually served by a French woman. I know because she translated everything I said into French before preparing it, even my latte. She also had an outrageous French accent. I thought the translation was a bit odd but it seemed to work well.
It wasn’t cold by any means today but it was a bit chilly in the breeze so I ventured up the stairs to the inside tables. It didn’t take long for me to turn around and retrace my steps when presented with the vision of a packed seating area, littered with little children, strollers and exhausted parents. I went outside and sat next to an American couple who talked about how wonderful the V&A was…which is where I went straight afterwards.
Last time I was at work and visited the V&A I noticed, for the first time, the massive statues lining the outside of the top floor. Each one has a name carved below it. They are very big and very high up. I was amazed I’d never noticed them before. Today, however, they were even more noticeable due, mainly, to the two guys who had abseiled down from the roof in order to give two of them a bit of a spruce up.
They were a massive hit as scores of people crowded the footpath for a look at them. I’m surprised there weren’t cheers every time they wielded their chisels. Fortunately the footpath is very wide so I managed to get inside the V&A without to much of a problem. I blipped them so if you want to see them, head over here.
To my utter surprise (and for the first time since I’ve started visiting) the V&A was actually crowded! Perhaps some parents were put off by the queues at the other museums. I don’t know why but it was a bit disconcerting. Not that it was by any means uncomfortable. The only difference was that, usually I can be in a room on my own but not today.
Last week I downloaded an app to my phone which takes and stitches a series of photographs in order to make a panorama. The sight of people from the overhead walkway made the Renaissance gallery look so lovely that I took one.
It looks rather odd, I know. The floor is actually level! I’m still getting used to the app and will experiment some more.
Back at work, poor Nick was having a hard time with an artist. Not directly but more causal. This guy had some rather large objects on display in the museum and Nick had to organise to get them back to him. The artist had said he wanted them returned to his house in London. Trouble was, Nick pointed out, his house in London wasn’t big enough (the pieces are very large).
Ok, the artist said, he’d like half to go to Norway and have the other half at home. This was all fine until Nick discovered that there would be a hefty VAT bill for anything leaving the UK. His concern stemmed from the fact that artists are notoriously poor and inclined not to pay things like VAT bills.
The tax man, being the insistent bastard he has always been, demands payment upfront, which means the Science Museum would have to pay it on shipment then, somehow, squeeze it out of the artist. Not ideal given the fact that the artist was the one who wanted it shipped to Norway. I would have been tempted to leave it all outside the artist’s house in London but Nick is much nicer than me.
I’m not sure how it was resolved as I left while Nick was off to talk to the museum lawyer. He’d already been in since 6am and wanted to leave at 4pm because he’s off for a five day break but his chances didn’t look good. He told me he was going to spend some of the break in the garden hammering something solid. I suggested he pretend it was the tax man he was hammering. He said he’d already decided it was going to be the artist.
And then, to top it all off, just before I was set to leave, the servers decided to crash. Which is why Nick went and spoke to the lawyer in person. Normally he gets phone numbers off Outlook (he’s a bit of a phone junkie and basically the opposite of me) but because it was down he couldn’t. He rang the switchboard to get it but the woman on the desk told him she couldn’t access the phone numbers because the server was down. She suggested sending the lawyer an email with his number so she could ring him. Nick didn’t bother explaining that this was actually impossible.
But by far the worst bit of the day was the sight that confronted me at South Kensington tube as I climbed down the steps into the main concourse. Without a word of exaggeration, there was at least 500 people in there, wrestling, jostling and screaming as they dragged all manner of little beings towards the ticket machines. And prams.
Oh, dear god, the prams! They are a menace in crowds. I have no idea how people do it. I expected to see nasty steel blades protruding from some of the wheels. What is the point in spending a lovely day in London if it involves the baby equivalent of a crash derby in order to get home?
If I had kids they’d be going to something local, I can tell you!