On Saturday Heather and I headed for a bit of history, heading to two of the great institutions of London, starting with the British Library
We were at the library not to read some obscure tome but to see an exhibition about a book. In celebration of 150-years since its publication, a small but fascinating exhibition on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland filled the mezzanine of the entrance hall. Much like the smaller display we’d seen last year at the Museum of Childhood, there were numerous editions of Alice (none of which ever look quite right without Tenniel’s illustrations). The star of the show is undoubtedly the original, handwritten manuscript once presented by Dodgson to little Alice Liddell to record a memory of a summer’s day.
It may have started to amuse Alice and her sisters but Dodgson’s wise choice to publish a version wrote the adventures way into many of our hearts. Somehow Alice, short, sweet and silly, is special. One of the first books I remember reading is my mother’s red bound little hardback of Wonderland and it’s sequel Through the Looking-Glass combined. I have no idea how many times I’ve read that little book, or another edition, but it’s probably more than any other.
We left Alice behind, via the little pop-up shop, and wandered across the road to the Euston Flyer for some lunch. Afterwards we walked up towards the British Museum. Part way there I felt quite peculiar, sort of half drunk/half very tired. I good sit down and a cup of coffee sorted me out at least well enough to wander the galleries though.
We spent most of the available time circulating through the Egyptian Galleries (Heather didn’t get too hypnotised by the Rosetta Stone). A Saturday afternoon probably wasn’t the best time to visit, given how crowded some of the galleries were! Still we managed to crane our necks at mummies and huge, imposing sculptures of strange gods and beasts. Some smaller pieces managed to catch the eye and imagination. The Queen of The Night is an intriguing clay relief, while the Royal Game of Ur is an ancient game to which we have a tantalising half glimpse of the rules. And, not so small, a gorgeous glazed brick representation of a lion.
After we’d wandered the galleries, and the extensive “little” shop encircling the old reading room, we wandered down the road to Holborn and the Shakespeare’s Head as it’s a special pub. We were both tired though, so didn’t stay long before heading home again, a day well spent.