Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Western Civ 12 Strikes Again

Even though we're only on Day 2, Travel Lethargy had set in slightly, compounded by jet lag, so it was harder than you would think actually to get going, cocooned as we were in our snug little apartment, the dulcet tones of the BBC4 news reader remarking on this or that seemingly trivial event in the background: a badger family had been spared their lives while crossing the M1 due to the quick thinking actions of Mr and Mrs. Bollingsworth of Tiddleyspot Cottage, in the lesser known village of Titcombe Grange-upon-Splodge; 12 yr old Douglas Carp-Treacle of Spotting-Bludford has been selected to the village cow-paddy sculpture team and is indeed the youngest member ever to make the team. And further, if this team is successful, they will make it to the county cow-paddy championships, no less. Or something like that. That's what it all sounded like anyway.

These are important events here in the UK, make no mistake about it and are not to be taken lightly. But leave it to the BBC to juxtapose them nicely by following these headlines with a listing of all the upcoming London concerts: Madonna, Pink, Green Day, Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Oasis, UB40, Neil Young, the list goes on and on.
Rural Vs. Urban - I don't know who is the winner in this country.
Back on the streets of London, the kids and I made the Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum our first stop. I had given choice of our first Museum visit to the kids and despite my best attempt to sway them by listing off such classics and the Victoria & Albert, the Natural History, The British Museum, etc etc, they chose Ripley. I reluctantly handed over the cash and in we went.
After a few minutes, I began to warm to the place, especially after finding an exhibit of a shoe belonging to Henry VIII (with whom, I'll just mention here, I have a bit of an obsession).

An hour and two thoroughly delighted children later, we emerged back onto the streets. The kids had LOVED it and really, Mum, could they go again? Tomorrow? Ummmmm. No.
Ignoring their complaining, I marched off in the direction of Trafalgar Square, pointing out various landmarks as we went, entreating them to look up, look down, could they see that spire, and this plaque, and wasn't that a beautiful example of neo-classical Greek architecture and how about that Jacobean influence over there. I was starting to sound a lot like Kenneth Clark. Western Civ 12 anyone? To their credit, the kids soaked it all up.
Trafalgar Square with its hugeness is a great place for people watching but I had other plans and after quickly eating our lunch, I whisked them off into the National Gallery for a spot of culture.
I knew I had perhaps 30 minutes, 45 at the most, before I started sounding like the teacher from Charlie Brown, so I hurried them along to the Early Italian rooms, followed closely by the French Impressionist rooms. After a few minutes of espousing the virtues of Raphael or Michaelangelo, or the near-camera quality of Canaletto (which is what finally got Jacob's attention!) and then launching into a description of what exactly Impressionism is, and being surprised that Zoe already knew about Pointillism and Seurat, I realized that I was really starting to sound far too much like Kenneth Clark. Or maybe that Nun that talks about art. What was with her anyway? Time for something different.
One of the best things about London must be the street performers. We encountered three or four of them, any of which could have filled the Royal Theatre. The best was Opera Dude as we referred to him, who was performing in a courtyard in Covent Garden. Dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, with a cd player accompanying him, he was belting them out like nobody's business. We were all stunned, especially Jacob.
Zoe also began her career as a street performer in Covent Garden when she was selected by a clown/juggler type to be his assistant. She did an excellent job and was on stage for about 20 minutes, to much applause.
We finished the day with shopping and then all fell into bed completely exhausted. Or should I say 'shattered' as they say here.
More tomorrow!

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