|Saturday in London: to the Barbican and beyond!
||[Jan. 13th, 2017|08:56 pm]
Friday you already know about: what next?
durham_rambler had discovered that there was an exhibition about Topic Records at the Barbican library (this link explains more, and links to a video: 75 years of folk music in ten minutes). GirlBear was familiar with the space, and was able to warn us that it wouldn't be a very large exhibition, but even so, the three of us felt it was worth a visit. We allowed ourselves an hour to look round, and that was plenty, even allowing time for reading documents and reminiscing about the records. I'd have liked more about the field recordings, and less about the stars, but I'm already converted and don't need to be preached to: and I'm sad enough to get a buzz out of things like Davy Graham's first recording contract.
After lunch, GirlBear had an assignation with the Society of Recorder Players, and durham_rambler and I visited the Museum of London. The last time we were there, the museum was newly installed in its home in the Barbican, which was itself quite new; now there is talk of moving the Museum to Docklands, where it already has an outpost. There's been a huge amount of archaeology in the interim, and much of it is on display. You enter through a gallery called "London before London", past an eye-catching mammoth skull, into details of excavations which identified small and transient prehistoric settlements at locations like the Heathrow baggage handling centre, and then, from this overload of detail, you round a corner to be confronted with a wall of objects found in the Thames, shoals of stone axes and bronze knives and indeed skulls, too many to have been there by chance, a wealth of tribute to the powerful river:
Upstairs to the Roman gallery - but first to collapse on the seating at the entrance to the gallery, which allowed us to admire the mural illustrating the invasion of Claudius (with elephants):
I thought there was something very familiar about the style (the face bottom right reminds me of Bruce Bairnsfather's Tommies), but the artist wasn't credited. The staff eventually tracked him down for me: John Swogger, not a familiar name at all! Revived by this rest, we ventured into the gallery itself, which was much busier than downstairs - though most of the crowd was jammed into a corner, where a video about gladiators was playing. I could resist that, and strolled through display, admiring the model towns and domestic interiors. Very nice, but perhaps I'm a little blasé about Romans...
Medieval London brought us back to the river, and the massive timbers of a thirteenth century boat which had survived because they'd been submerged, used to line a tank for keeping fish. Many smaller medieval treasures, pots and pilgrim badges and fragments of enamelled glass - and eventually I realised we had passed through the Middle Ages and were emerging into modern London and I hadn't seen the Cheapside Hoard. The attendant explained that I must have been very lucky to see some of it on my previous visit, and they now bring it out only for special exhibitions (and I'd managed to miss the recent-ish exhibition: curses!). In that case, of the things we saw, the one I'd take home as a souvenir is this piece of London Delft:
Goodwill is All!
Fortified by a cup of tea, I drifted on through the later galleries: the recreation of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, Selfridge's lift, the Protein Man's placard... but really I'd had enough. And we had a dinner date...
We dined that evening with helenraven - or perhaps I should say with kelpercomehome, since she lured us south of the river with promises of wines she had discovered on her travels. The journey was more exciting than it should have been, since the nearest tube station was closed (though we didn't find this out till the doors of the train were closing) and we had forgotten the number of her flat - which wouldn't have mattered if it weren't for the security gates fitted since our last visit. So we coulsn't simply proceed along the walkway until we recognised a friendly door. But we worked it out, we arrived, the wine was excellent and the company even better - and that was Saturday.