Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Street Art and Skeletons

Oh, crikey, did I overdo it on arrival day! My back was really sore yesterday (day 2). Fortunately, I'd planned a pretty low-key day that didn't tax my body or my brain any too much.

I finally got out the door around 11 and took the tube to Embankment. I like to take the bus whenever I can (it's cheaper and I can see where I'm going), but I made up for lost time sleeping, blogging and dawdling by taking the tube most places yesterday. My destination was the Southbank, and I could have ridden one more stop to Waterloo, but I decided to walk over the Jubilee footbridge since it wasn't raining. First stop: Hayward Gallery, where I watched the Appearing Rooms on the terrace and saw a small exhibition called View Basket: Art Bought Online. For a two-week period in August, the person who put the exhibition together purchased things listed on eBay as "art" from UK sellers. As the items arrive at the Hayward, they are added to the exhibition -- there are now nearly 50 items on display. The "art" ranged from a watercolor of a chihuahua to action figures to a limited edition book made by David Hockney. My favorite was the nearly full-size bust of Freddie Mercury made of Legos.

From there, I headed to Leake Street, where there's a disused train tunnel that's been covered in graffiti. It was the site of the Cans Festival of street artists like Banksy this past summer, and much of it has recently been repainted by second (or third?) tier street artists. It was really dark, but I did get a few good photos at either end of the tunnel where there was more light. I'll add a few here when I get home and can upload pix.

For lunch, I got a tuna & sweet corn sandwich and a beverage and sat near the London Eye to eat. When Spooner first got to London 5 years ago, he ate tuna & sweet corn sandwiches for days while he was looking for a place to live. Rosenbeans and I ate them often when we visited him in 2004. Now, I eat one of these delicacies on each trip as an homage to past times with my mates, cos food connects us to our culture and history, right?

Back across the Jubilee Bridge and back on the tube to Oxford Circus. Destination: Getty Images Gallery to see London Through a Lens, a great assemblage of black and white photos of London from the Getty's archives. Lots of images of Brits at work, play and war. One of the best was of a swarm of kiddies rushing en masse into a sweetshop when the rationing of sweets was lifted in 1950 or so.

I saw on my map that I was very near the BBC Shop, so I went over to Margaret Street in hopes of getting some Top Gear tat for rosenbeans for her birthday prezzie. I thought a Richard Hammond action figure would be really nice. But the shop was nowhere to be found, so I walked 2 blocks north to Broadcasting House to see if they had a shop there. Nope. They do all their sales online now. Sorry, rosenbeans. It's the thought that counts.

Back to Oxford Circus to get the tube to Euston. Next stop: the Wellcome Collection to see Skeletons, an exhibition of excavated remains of Londoners -- Romans, medieval folk, and 19th century dead -- done in conjunction with the Museum of London. Whenever there's a building project in London and remains or artifacts are found, construction comes to a screeching halt while the archaeologists take all the bones and bits out of the ground. These 26 skeletons came from 8 different sites around London. Each is laid out in a glass case, with info about their age, gender, injuries or illnesses as diagnosed from the bones, and speculation as to their occupation or social class. Many had rickets, some had syphilis, and some showed signs of a diet of much protein and fat causing obesity. One woman was pregnant at her death, and the little fetus bones were there with hers. Several children had serious rickets or were born with syphilis. Men had broken bones from battle or brawling. A bit creepy, but interesting stuff.

On my way back up the Euston Road, I stopped in at St Pancras Parish Church to see the art exhibit in the crypt. It was various pieces done with light. The crypt is dark and dank, and the art wasn't doing anything for me, so I moved on and caught the 168 bus back to Belsize Park.

Spooner called soon after I got back to his place to tell me to meet him for dinner in Swiss Cottage, in a restaurant he couldn't remember the name of in a street with a name that he didn't know. But I found it without any trouble. We went to the Hampstead Theatre afterwards -- a new production of Brecht's Turandot that left us scratching our heads.

Pedometer readings: 16800 steps, 6.91 miles

  • £3.08 for sandwich and beverage
  • I owe Spooner a tenner for dinner (I paid up before I left)

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  1. ScribeGirl12:51 PM

    I think I'd like the skeletons even better than the aht.

    Also like: "in a restaurant he couldn't remember the name of in a street with a name that he didn't know. But I found it without any trouble." Epitomizes the dynamic there!

    Not much news here. Went to a boat show in Newport. All yachts! Not good for The Swamp. Remodeling has begun at The Swamp -- and good thing, too, since under the old siding was rot, literally, which we were unaware of.

    So on I slog in the mysteries of My New Job while you explore the wonders of the Old Sodde, the economy collapsing around us all.

    -- Scribe

  2. I think for a "slow" day you got quite a lot in! I think you should include transport expenses on your daily info, so that we can appreciate all your trekking from place to place. How did RS describe the restaurant? On the corner with the tree under the blue awning or some such?