Undone in London

I went to London recently, I really needed to get away. When I am there I don’t feel as if I have been ‘home’ unless I visit the V&A, but the walk from the flat opposite the Odeon in Holloway to the tube station was so long that I was worried that I’d get off the tube and have to go straight back home, what with my energy levels being out of my control. I am obstinate though (perhaps this is not always to my benefit because I will make myself do more than I should) but, that determination and ‘sod you M.E.’ attitude got me through the tunnel walkway from South Kensington underground, although slowly and to annoyance of the city folk with their fast feet, and into the museum, where I was immediately faced with the box suggesting a £3 donation. That threw me, I had attained a goal and was immediately faced with the issue of doing the right thing and having to rummage for change. You might think this is pathetic, but I tell you, when one has to fight through aches, pains, sleepiness and a desire to cry, it seems immense. I decided to ignore the nudge for cash, I couldn’t cope, but as I walked I found change, and there was another box a bit further along, cool, duty dispensed, no need for guilt. £3 is a piffling amount, when I have more to give away, I will. I figured the next thing was to sit down, have a break, get some lunch, and take it from there. I felt a bit lonely, no husband to lean on and take care of me (I know, boo hoo waah) and then! I discovered that the restaurant has moved! Outrageous. Nobody consulted me on this change. Huff. Magnificent dining rooms though, truly splendid. Looks like they went with IKEA designers when it came to the massive lights though, which are very pretty but…as soon as I thought ‘IKEA’, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I wandered up and down looking at was available for lunch, I looked at the prices, I looked at the portions. In the end, despite turning my nose up at fish at home where I eat it reluctantly in the name of ‘it’s good for you’ (according to my husband who cares about these things) I went with the fish pie, not expecting that I would fall in love with it and think of it often in the time since I ate it. Oh my word! It was piping hot, with an absolutely delicious, generous filling, a lightly crusty golden brown potato topping, and they hadn’t succumbed to putting cheese on top, for which I was thankful. Decent coffee too. After thoroughly enjoying the meal, I said ‘goodbye’ to the mum who couldn’t manage her two children as well as the nanny did, and with whom I had shared a table, and began wandering around visiting favourite exhibits, and discovering new things due to the stairs to the loos being closed. Rather odd to eventually find a loo where the voluble attendant tried to persuade a queue of disinterested women to go elsewhere when we had already been round and round looking for a restroom. We nearly had a sit in. Hah. No way were we budging when finding this place had involved stairs and lifts. I can hear friends asking why on earth I would mention toilets here, well, one thing I know about museums, go to the loo before before you really need to. Saves a lot of bother. Also, take water with you, museums are thirsty work.I do wish that the V&A hadn’t reduced their postcard selection so radically. Years ago it was such a joy to choose and buy cards, I looked forward to that as much as any other part of the visit, I’m so glad that I bought so many way back when. At the National Gallery one can purchase and print out a huge choice of images, I’m not sure that the V&A offer the same service, I don’t like the shop anymore, it is shiny and colourful, but there’s nothing there that I want to take home. The separate bookshop had some great books, but for the life of me, I saw no need to be selling Darth Vader headgear as well. I mean, really. In fact, puh-LEESE! Still, the exhibits at the V&A are as special and magnificent as ever (the whole point of being there) plus which, the policy on photography is fantastic. A charming uniformed lady down in sculptures told me that conservation glass is used, so even flash is ok in most areas, although there are some exceptions. Of course, there’s no point in taking pictures of a flash reflected in glass, but the photos I took didn’t need a flash and are good enough for my needs. I was especially interested in dragons this time. At the National Gallery they were terribly stern and disapproving about cameras, I am happy to comply, but maybe because a lot of people don’t appreciate why photography isn’t allowed, the two guards at the front door were a bit grumpy about getting the message across. ‘Stick’, ‘bottom’ and ‘remove’ were words that came to mind.I adore looking at the crisp ironwork against the white walls, at the V&A, that gallery is one of my favourites. Check out this detail, that thumb was made for hiking! Remember the book ‘Even Cowgirls Get the Blues’ by Tom Robbins? At one time it was a ‘must read’.

I thought the way that some of the sculptures were displayed was brilliant, even though I didn’t like the columns that some of exhibits were on, I appreciated that one could look up at the sculptures and see them as they were intended to be viewed, that was very good. This guy caught my eye, remember the joke about the wide mouth frog?

So, it did my heart good to see beautiful things, to be back in what feels like my home town, staying with my son, and I returned to Scotland thinking my batteries were charged and I was ready to go, but no, I’m not. I squeezed out a few beads in the last week, quite difficult births they were too, someone must have switched my hands round in the night. When it comes to commissioned work, I just don’t think I can do it. ‘Can’t you go in the shed today and knock it all out in one go?’ enquired my husband, risking his life with abandonment,
‘What? NO! I can’t!’
‘Well, why not? Can you explain?’
‘If you ‘got’ why it doesn’t work like that, you wouldn’t have to ask, and therefore, I don’t think attempting an explanation would be of any value, also, I’m getting really cross right now’
Mentally I was reaching for any kind of weapon with which to beat him, poor chap. Every lampworker I know goes through this, and really, it is OK, one just has to ride it out. Yes, I could go to the shed and make some duff old beads, but it would take me ages just to manage that, it wouldn’t be at all therapeutic and the customer would be disappointed. I’m not doing it.

In the words of Julian of Norwich, a feisty woman, “All shall be well. And all shall be well. And all manner of things will be well.”


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