Sunday 14 April 2024

2024 Weeknote 15

I had a hermit's dream of a few days away in London this week. 

I stayed at a fabulous little historic pub in Greenwich, called the Prince of Greenwich, which provided a huge squashy bed with lots of pillows, lots of peace and quiet, a kitchenette for preparing one's own meals (I did not use it but it was a good space), a small black kitten boss and superb Italian food for dinner one night. I was a bit nervous about it being noisy because, yknow, pub, but it seems to no longer be a pub but more of a restaurant, so it was closed by 10pm every night. It was one of those classic British pubs which was stuffed full of every curio you can imagine and the sign for the ladies' toilet said, 'Women are always right' which I loved. 

I went to three exhibitions/museums while I was there, starting with the Entangled Pasts exhibition at the Royal Academy, which looks at how art played a part in shaping our perceptions of empire, enslavement and colonialism. It was full of historic art and contemporary pieces and it was very much up my alley. I am full of examples of how the British Empire has shaped pretty much every institution and aspect of British culture, so hearing from the RA about how their own existence owes much to this period was music to my ears. 

Then on Wednesday, I went to the National Maritime Museum and the Museum of London, Docklands, both places which have been on my list to visit for a very long time and both places which added a huge amount of context to the story of the British Empire that I've been teaching. I think the NMM just pipped the MoL to the favourite spot but I could easily have spent a whole day in either place. Woe that they are so far east, it makes it a tricky place to go to on a day trip. However, I am going to need to go back to NMM because there is a lot I didn't see and at least one other museum that I didn't go into, as part of the complex, so plenty more learning to do.

I think my favourite anecdote from across the museum exhibits was probably this -

The mind boggles at how a man might be so 'ill-used' in a brothel as to occasion his death. I can only assume they meant he caught syphilis. 

On Tuesday night I went to the National Theatre to see Underdog: The Other Other Bronte, which popped up in my Facebook ads while I was in Austria. It was a fantastic piece of theatre. Firstly, the stage/theatre itself was small and I was sat quite near the stage so it felt like I was almost a part of it; secondly, I think the three main actors must have put an incredible amount of time into rehearsing and getting comfortable with each other, because they played sisters really well. Charlotte was played by Gemma Whelan who is fresh in my mind from my rewatch of Game of Thrones and she began the play in the audience, asking people what their favourite of her books was. 'Harry Potter, what?!' she quipped at one point. 

Other notable points of the trip included catching the Uberboat from Greenwich to Embankment, feeling like Elizabeth I; a visit to Liberty for a scarf and some new Jones Road make up (their counter girls were so rude last time, I almost didn't go, but I really wanted to try a face pencil and needed matching. A much better experience this time, thankfully); a haircut; a lunch with Mother Hand and Sib to mark Father Hand's passing; and hanging out with the niblings. I also read two books, finishing Lone Women (creepy and wonderful) and Copper Sun by Sharon M Draper, which offered an interesting perspective on where runaway enslaved people might have journeyed in 18th century America. I've started The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla and Still Life by Sarah Winman. I caught up on lots of recorded TV - how is it already interviews week on The Apprentice and how did I miss a whole series of Sort Your Life Out? - and slept a lot too. 

Family snap.

Now, I suppose, I'm ready to go back to work. 

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