brought a trip out into London with Heather, partly because we decided we don’t get to enough in London, partly for something to do, and partly to celebrate a year together. Our destination of choice was the Museum of London, which Heather hadn’t been to since childhood, though I’d been in what feels like a different life.
We took a train to Cannon Street and strolled up past a bright looking St Paul’s to the round-a-bout surrounded museum. We were greeted on the approach by a strange creature advertising an exhibition of the Cheapside Hoard. Immediately outside the main building we were greeted by a display from the UK Picture Editors’ Guild Awards. Whilst there was merit in some of the photos I didn’t find them particularly inspiring, perhaps because such media shots are bombarded at us everyday, perhaps partly because too many seemed note worthy simply because of the famous person in them.
In The Museum
The museum itself follows a journey through the history of London (surprisingly enough) from a point where there was no London through the development of man to the modern day. The beginning manages to hold attention despite the arrays of axe heads and occasional skull. There is, for instance, a reproduction of the Dagenham Idol (with, for some reason, what appears to be another reproduction in a display case nearby.
The Roman section inevitably quickly bored me—I think school history somehow killed any interest in that period. There also always seems to be a desperate need to make up some family or other to display Roman life, which always leaves me slightly wondering what’s known and what’s imagination.
The medieval section I found much more interesting; though that’s mainly personal preference for that period of history. As I did the following section on “War, Plague and Fire” with the fascinating Copper Plate Map (though why one of the three surviving plates is in Germany is confusing) and a model of The Rose Theatre. After that the city gets bigger, with items slowly becoming more recognisable to modern eyes. Strangely the museum includes display cases embedded in the floor so one finds oneself suddenly walking over historic artefacts, or at least teacups.
Down the stairs in the lower galleries there’s also an authentic prison cell which I stepped into without realising and a slightly surreal (and dark) recreated pleasure gardens scene. The star of the museum though is probably the Victorian walkway, a recreation of various shops and stores from the period. I immediately found the pub of course, while Heather was nostalgic over the old style pharmacy so reminiscent of her dad’s.
Arriving at the run up to the turning point around the start of the last century (how strange to write that, as one born within it!) opulence shines through with a lift taken from Selfridges, contrasted with Charles Booth’s poverty map.
Almost finally things come to brush up against the present with modern London displays; a brief blink of an eye away brick sized mobile phone sitting next to early personal computing equipment and scaled models of some of London’s better known landmarks sitting round a touch screen display.
The last port of call was the city gallery, dominated by the gold coach of the Lord Mayor—practically the only thing Heather recalled from her school days trip.
There was (just!) time for a slice of cake in the cafe before being ushered out, leaving no time for Heather to look at the Cheapside Hoard!
To The Pub!
Leaving the museum behind us we hopped on a tube for a couple of stops to visit somewhere we’d never been on a date to, but had visited almost a year previously. The Shakespeare’s Head in Holborn. The place was actually full of mackems all upset over their cup final loss :-); plus two serene looking Manchester City fans. We had dinner amusing ourselves watching the silliness of the fans and the table opposite performing dares, particularly the girl who thought she was attractive but basically had no arse.
Then it was home time, for cuddles.