How do they do it?

There seemed to be an awful lot of people at all the museums this week. Half term doesn’t start until next week, so it can’t be that…unless some families are getting an early start. Most surprising was the amount of people at the V&A which is usually immune.

I first realized the size of the crowds when I went to lunch. The queue was ridiculously long and full of confused people. The confusion is due to the layout of the cafe. It all looks really obvious to me but I eat there every week.

It’s not that it’s particularly confusing per se, but if you’re only going somewhere once in your life, there’s no real need to look too closely, I guess. I mean, I’m fairly certain I have no idea what the cafe looks like at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, having been only once…a long time ago.

So, I had to work my way through a bunch of confused people of various sizes, to get my lunch. I then had to find somewhere to sit. This rarely happens now I sit upstairs but today, all the double tables were full and I was forced to share with a family of grumpy French people who took a strange delight in chastising their children. And each other.

I sat and tried to read my book but it wasn’t easy concentrating on the atheist leanings of Karl Marx so, eventually, I pretended to read and listened to the French family abuse each other.

As I sat there, a long line of tiny school children snaked up the stairs between the floors just outside the cafe. There appeared to be a teacher at the front and two at the back. I had the sudden thought that it must be pretty difficult keeping an eye on them all when they are in such numbers and so small. Particularly in a crowded museum.

I felt like asking them. There must be some sort of system. Or some sort of natural level of loss with the appropriate risk assessment formula worked out by some public servant with more time than productive work.

I see the big groups of kids with their harassed teachers in the special area reserved for them. There’s a long line of big cages (I used to think they put the naughty ones inside them but soon realized they were to hold their school bags) with notices on them imploring the kids not to sit on them.

They swarm in like so many angry bees, the teachers trying to maintain some sort of control, screaming strangulated sounds that may or may not be language based. It makes me glad I never had any aspirations to be a primary school teacher. I can’t stand the crappy noise that comes out of people’s personal stereos so you can imagine what a class of shrill little darlings would do to me.

Still, at least I can escape, the poor teachers must have ringing ears by the end of a school day. And they always look frazzled. Frazzled and Deaf – sounds like a firm of compensation lawyers.

I was simply amazed at the V&A. Not only were the crowds unprecedented, but they’ve also removed the revolving doors from the Exhibition Road entrance! Extraordinary.

They don’t revolve any more!

And while that was a bit of a surprise, the disappearance of two huge trees from the footpath was simply shocking.

If Karen ever sees this, she’ll be surprised.

See what happens when I go away? The world is irreparably altered.

Sadly, the crowds didn’t end at the museum. On my way home, South Kensington tube station was inundated with a plague of little creatures. There were far more than normal. I followed a big guy who just charged through them like Homer and his plough.

Reaching my train at Waterloo was like a little oasis of calm where the only noise was that of adult conversation, the occasional mobile phone and the hiss, hiss, hiss coming from the ears of the young zombie sitting next to me.

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