1989 1. Great Britain - London and Vicinity <)))

t89a -

0527-02 - Kensington Gardens, boating on The Serpentine.
After finding a hotel in the Bayswater Road area, we set off on a walk through nearby Kensington Gardens. In the middle of London, you can go boating on the Serpentine, the artificial lake that divides Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. English daisies spangle the grass. Back home the dandelions must be out.

0527-03 89 - Kensington Gdns, Merle walking on Rotten Row.
Heading for Buckingham Palace, we stroll down Rotten Row with a bridle path alongside. Merle recalls a scene from some Regency romance novel. We saw a few riders taking the air, but no fashionable ladies and gentlemen. Early in May, the sycamore trees are still in bud.

0527-05 - Equestrian statue of Wellington, near Apsley House.
Continuing on toward the heart of London, we pass Apsley House, containing the Wellington Museum, and pause for a brief look at the Great Man's statue.

0339-36 - Achilles, near Apsley House?
The inscription reads: To Arthur, Duke of Wellington, and his brave companions in arms, this statue of Achilles, cast from cannon taken in the victories of Salamanca, Vittoria, Toulouse and Waterloo, is inscribed by their countrywomen.

0340-01 - Green Park.
In Green Park, the leaves are a bit more advanced on the Sycamores. (Actually, this picture was taken later in the month.)

0527-08 - Palace gate.
We arrive at Buckingham Palace.

0527-09 - Palace front yard.
And peer through the fence. To see the Changing of the Guard you have to get to the Palace by 11:30, or earlier if you expect to find a good position.

0340-13 - Tourist standing on head, waiting.
!What to do while standing around waiting for something to happen. How about yoga excercises on the grass? !Something for the Kilroy book of records. Samantha Kilroy of Scarborough, Ontario, scoops her entire 1989 High School graduating class. The Queen was not amused. Wasn't even told about it, in fact.

0527-07 - Tulips in Queen's Gdns opp. Palace, growing.
Or, you could simply watch the tulips grow in the Queen's Gardens opposite the Palace. !Restful, but not very stimulating.

0340-03 - Changing of the guard, entering the palace.
Finally, a marching band comes down the Mall and the new guard approaches the Palace.

0340-08 - Changing of the guard, leaving the palace.
After considerable stamping to and fro inside the gates -- which you can't see very well because you lost your position beside the fence -- the old guard and their escorts march out again.

0340-07 - Changing of the guard, band, opp Canada gate.
The grand old Duke of York/ He had ten thousand men./ He marched them up to the top of the hill/ And he marched them down again.// Opposite is the Canada gate on Green Park.

0340-11 - Queen Victoria Memorial.
Queen Victoria seems quite content, especially with the weather. I first saw this statue in the 1950s. Victorian taste is not on the agenda here. It's more a matter of meeting a long-lost friend. !Overdressed, perhaps, but jolly good to see the old girl again.

0340-12 - Vict. Mem., detail.
This is not the British Statue of Liberty. That torch may imply the spread of peace, order and good government, but the lion distinctly says, "Don't tread on my tail."

0527-11 - Queen Victoria Memorial, detail, looking up the Mall.
!Looking up the Mall from the steps of Victoria's Memorial. We'll walk on the left side of the street.

0527-12 - Marlborough House.
Here my notes are unclear. Identified this at first as Clarence House, the home of the Queen Mother. Looking through an old travel book from 1889 revealed it to be Marlborough House. In those days, it had chimneys on the roof, just above the oval medallions on the top floor. Show you the picture, if you like.

0527-13 - Nelson's Col., Traf Sq.
We reach Trafalgar Square with St. Martin-in-the-Fields behind it. The "fields" have long since been paved over.

0527-14 - Fountain of Eros, illuminated signs.
!On to Picadilly Circus and the Fountain of Eros. The wingy brat has just pierced Merle with one of his erogenous shafts. Now I'm not sure if she's ga-ga at me, London in general, or just anxious to get somewhere for dinner.

0527-23 - Nelson's Col. and bus, next day.
Another day, we resume our tour back at Trafalgar square. This is morning rush hour. Don't step off the kerb to get a closer picture or you'll have -- in the words of Flanders and Swan -- a 97 horsepower, hold very tight please, London Transport ... omnibus zooming up your zoom lens.

0527-18 - M. as Androcles, Traf. Sq.
This lion at the base of Nelson's Column is one of four designed by the artist Edwin Landseer. Merle, the Androcles of the Brock Faculty of Education, pauses to take a thorn out of His Highness' paw.

0527-20 - "Lager lout" in front of N's col.
!One of Britain's famed "lager louts" waking up from an all-night vigil at the base of Nelson's Column. Why they prefer bottled lager beer to a pint of bitter fresh from the tap is beyond me. Less potable, more portable, one supposes.

0527-21 - Porch of National Gallery.
!On the porch of the National Gallery, with St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the background. The church was built in 1724.

0527-25 - Nelson's Ices, ice cream van.
Lord Nelson would rotate on his column if he could see his name being used for crass commercial purposes. Cost about one pound fifty for each of us, if memory serves.

0527-22 - Moore statue outside British Council office.
!A Henry Moore statue outside the British Council offices on the left. From here we set off down Whitehall.

0527-26 - Whitehall, Life Guard.
!Past the Horse Guards Parade with the Queen's Life Guard on duty. Actually, I tried to botch this picture in homage to Paddington Bear who, in a recent children's book, also took a memorable photo on this very spot.

0527-28 - Whitehall, flags overhead.
We are now strolling down Whitehall with flags overhead. !Some sort of European Community building, I believe.

0527-29 - Richmond House, the Cenotaph.
!The Cenotaph in front of Richmond House. This is one of the few places where a piece of recent architecture harmonizes well with the surrounding older buildings.

0527-32 - Big Ben.
!Big Ben, and just about time for mid mid-afternoon refreshment. Hang on to your brolly, it's a popular corner and the sidewalks are thronged with jostling tourists and school-children.

0527-34 - View down the Thames from Westminster Br.
We edge through the crowds to the parapet of Westminster Bridge, here looking down-stream. This is Westminster pier. We begin to get ideas about going on a boat tour.

0527-37 - Boadicea and souvenir sellers.
!A trifle late for today. We turn our attention from the future back to the past where it belongs. Boadicea is exhorting the ancient Britons to defend their country against the pushy Roman Imperialists. Meanwhile, the more sold-out of her subjects are busy with other things.

0527-33 - Boadicea against the sky.
Rise up and fight for cultural integrity, sluggards. Can't you see where all this talk about free trade is leading?

0527-38 - Westminster pier looking across the Thames.
One morning, we do take the boat from Westminster pier. That's County Hall in the background, once the home of the famed London County Council, a municipal government that was probably second only in power to the British Government itself. Now it's a victim of creeping Thatcherism.

0529-23 - Big Ben from the Thames near Westminster Br.
!Au revoir to Big Ben and Boadicea as we slip under Westminster bridge and head upstream.

0529-26 - Battersea Power Station.
!On our left, Battersea Power Station, or what's left of it. !Now out of commission, gutted, and in the process of being converted into a commercial and entertainment development.

0529-28 - Chelsea Br.?
Chelsea Bridge gets lit up at night. We ourselves ended up lit up at this very spot after a pub walk one evening. It was led by a very entertaining American who has lived and worked as a journalist in London for 17 years.

0529-29 - Apartment building, Britain's space effort?
According to the tour boat guide, this is part of Britain's space effort, scheduled for launching very soon.

0529-30 - Approaching Richmond lock.
Nearing Richmond lock, our tour boat prepares to get up in the world. Have your lock fee ready please. Affix pound notes to the end of a boat hook.

0529-31 - In Richmond lock.
!Inside the lock. This particular weekend, every Briton owning a stick of wood big enough to float on seemed to be messing about in boats. !Scenes of cheerful confusion. One of our crewmen was compelled to exchange sharp words with another tour boat that cut across our path. Get out of it! Bloody fool.

0529-32 - Bridge over Richmond lock.
!Elegant Victorian iron-work. !The Industrial Revolution as a popular art form.

0529-33 - Richmond.
!Richmond, a revelation of Georgian facades. Those who were not on boats were either watching boats or standing in line to get onto boats. This is May, not August, remember. Rotten weather, the locals assured us. Things would soon simmer down into the old familiar rain and sleet and fog and hail.

0529-35 - Richmond, waterfront park.
!Closer view of the Richmond waterfront. !A suburb of London, really. In the middle of the 18th century, much of this was bosky farmland. Then the toffs moved in, and things went down hill, or rather, up hill. It's the namesake of Richmond Hill, Ontario.

0529-36 - Richmond vicinity.
!Richmond vicinity, further up the Thames.

0529-37 - Entrance.
Soon after Richmond, we reach Hampton Court and stand full of excitement and bubbles at the entrance to the Palace. The warm colours of the brick and the "domestic" look of Tudor architecture give it an agreeable homey feel.

0530-03 - Dragon and portcullis.
The front door is guarded by a dragon and portcullis. !Relatively benign species. !Friendly to tourists.

0529-38 - Inner clock tower.
!The clock tower in the inner court.

0530-02 - Fish court.
!The Fish Court somewhere deep within. The palace is really a tightly-built village of adjoining buildings: wings, chambers, halls, galleries, courtyards, chapels, kitchens and stairwells.

0530-05 - Park and canal.
!Hampton Court park and canal.

0530-06 - Park, benches under avenue of trees.
!Late afternoon. The gardens give you an impression complimentary to the Palace itself, of a series of adjoining and connected spaces. More than just green carpets with trees, each park area has its own mood and the feel of some comfortable outdoor room where you'd like to spend more time ...

0530-07 - Statue in shrubbery.
!Flirting in the shrubbery, for instance.

0530-08 - Window pattern.
!Or strolling along looking at the exterior details of the Palace. Isn't this the very essence of the Age of Reason? Here we have the new wing created by Christopher Wren for William and Mary. Seems like only yesterday.

0530-10 - Walled garden, gate & children.
!One of the more intimate outdoor drawing rooms of the Palace.

0530-09 - Walled garden.
Excuse me, eh? Is that the gardener's lodge over there on the other side of the hedge? I wanna ask a question about the boondockias.

0530-12 - Orangerie.
!The Orangerie with palm trees. Do they take them in for the winter, or is it always this balmy in England?

0530-14 - M & wisteria vine.
!Nearby, a huge wisteria vine.

0530-13 - M & wisteria flowers.
!Bird of Paradise looking for a nesting site.

0530-04 - Lion and shield.
The light is perfect for pictures, but it's closing time. This security guard points us to the exit. Mind you don't tumble into the moat. Don't mind if I don't, thank you.

0530-28 - Front view from gate on Great Russell St.
!The main entrance to the British Museum on Great Russell St. !A pilgrimage to see again the things that seemed so entrancing in the 1950s. Then, the Museum revealed a wider world stretching, somehow, forward into the past. Today, I'm older, tired-er, but the past still seems a guarantee of the future.

0530-19 - Gallery donated by Lord Duveen.
The Elgin Marbles are now beautifully housed in this gallery donated by the art dealer, Lord Duveen. On my first visit, I recall only the dim interiors of temporary post-war galleries. The sculptures round the walls come from the frieze that once encircled the Parthenon.

0530-16 - Elgin Marbles, centaur and fallen man.
!A scene from some ancient battle between men and centaurs.

0530-17 - EM, frieze and schoolgirls.
This sloping group of figures was located on the gable end of the temple, that triangular area above the pillars and under the edge of the roof. At the left side, the chariot horses disappear into the sea on a journey to eternity. Uniformed schoolgirls consult guidebooks and make notes for history class.

0530-18 - EM, reclining figure.
Headless, this figure has a potent, elemental quality. We probably derive ideas from classical art that the original makers never intended. Try to picture this sculpture with arms, feet, head and a coat of garish paint. It'd be much harder to see the artist's mastery of pure form with these distractions.

0530-20 - Schoolchildren seated in front of temple.
Today, we sit quietly in front of monuments like this, doing philosophical meditations on the nature of civilization, the convulsive movements of history. It's a little disquieting to imagine these precincts at festival time, full of the hoopla of religious enthusiasm, and very little philosophy.

0530-21 - Trajan, Roman antiquities.
I first saw this bust in the 50s. And from somewhere else, recall a history textbook with a reproduction of it. The Emperor Trajan stood for the Roman Empire at its height, well organized, secure, universal. But is that a touch of boredom in those blank eyes?

0530-22 - Granite figure, Egyptian.
The Egyptians pharaohs were not like we classical Greeks, Adoni. More than a touch of smug barbarism still sneers down at us today. Thutmose III was not a humanist. He didn't believe, like the Greeks, that man was the measure of all things. He, already, was chief cubit in the land.

0530-24 - Granite figure, Egyptian.
They were not interested in portraying character or emotion, in playing games with ideas or politics, in creating art for art's sake. This cool, unruffled figure represents pure, monolithic power, handed down from inscrutable gods, who did not have human faces.

0530-27 - Porch and guard.
!The porch of the British Museum. !A shady place to sit and feel disconcerted about the contrast in mood between inside and out. These are real stone pillars, as genuine as anything inside. But one step out the door and you're up to your knees in ordinary life: pigeons littering, kids gobbling ice-lollies.

0530-32 - Cleopatra's needle.
We skip across town to another famous antiquity: Cleopatra's Needle on the Victoria embankment. Fodor's guidebook says it has nothing to do with Cleopatra, was carved ca 1450 B.C. for Thutmose III, and presented to Britain by Mohammed Ali in 1819. Postal sevice was slow. Delivery took place 59 years later in 1878.

0530-33 - St. Paul's from the Thames embankment.
Due to traffic noise, the Victoria Embankment on the north side of the Thames is not the best place for strolling, at least till you get past Blackfriars Bridge. There, you have a side view of St. Paul's Cathedral from the river.

0530-34 - SP, buses from Ludgate Hill.
Ludgate Hill leads to the front entrance. Contrary to what travellers said in the past about the huge size of the building, today you get an impression of it being increasingly jammed-in between its neighbours. Designed by Christopher Wren, St. Paul's was completed in 1708.

0530-35 - SP, closer.
Advancing closer, it's difficult to get a good sight of the dome. In the 1950s, it cost a few shillings admission to climb to the gallery round the middle. From there you ascended more stairs and looked vertically down through a port hole in the very centre of the ceiling.

0531-01 - SP, interior.
We arrive just as the afternoon service is concluding. The priest is delivering the last lines of his sermon in an amplified voice. !Some quite incongruous piece of scripture about "a dog returning to its vomit." Prayers were offered for the Royal Family.

0531-10 - Elevator shaft to Thames subway.
The trail of my alter ego- James Fielding, leads to side trips through Greenwich and Woolwich. Take the Docklands Light Railway from Tower Hill. At the terminus, descend this Victorian elevator shaft. You then follow a narrow tunnel under the Thames mud. !At the far side, another elevator ride back up to daylight.

0531-02 - Royal Observatory.
At the top of the hill is the Royal Observatory. The red time ball drops at noon, allowing ships in the river to set their chronometers.

0531-03 - Prime meridian.
You stand on the Prime Meridian with one monkey gland in the western hemisphere and the other in the eastern. From this spot the Greenwich time signal went out over the world via BBC shortwave. "At the beginning of the long dash it will be exactly one o'clock, Greenwich mean time. ... beep ... beep ... beeeeep."

0531-05 - Old telescope.
The old telescope still points heavenward.

0531-06 - "New" telescope.
Here is the new replacement. At least, it was new before the days of atomic clocks and computers.

0531-04 - View from the hill.
!A view of Greenwich Common and the Maritime Museum from the top of observatory hill. On the far side of the Thames, you can see signs of the massive redevelopment of London's old dock area.

0531-08 - Cutty Sark, tour coaches.
The Cutty Sark is laid up in permanent drydock at Greenwich. It's a popular tourist spot because, like Nelson's Victory, the ship symbolises Britain's mastery of the seas.

0531-12 - CS, deck.
!View from the wheel looking forrard ... me hearties.

0531-14 - CS, panelling on deck.
Actually, that kind of accent is a bit too ancient for a seaman of the Cutty Sark. This ship is almost modern (check the trendy panelling). She was launched in 1869, serving in the Australian trade, and in our own time as a cadet training ship. She was finally laid up here in 1957.

0531-15 - CS, ropes.
For the landlubber, it's a nightmare of look-alike cordage. !The downhaul this and the uphaul that, not to mention tacks and sheets, buntlines, clewlines, ratlines, haliards, warps, cables and braces. !Enough to drive you to drink. Thanks, don't mind if I do. !Rum, neat, if you please.

0531-18 - CS, view up into rigging.
On second thought, Captain, y'r honour, sir, better save the rum till later in the voyage. Now, d'you really want me to claw me way up that ratline on the right, walk tightrope across the horizontal stay in the middle, then shinney down the mizzen mast just for excercise?

0531-09 - CS, stern.
At the end of their tour, a couple of landlubbers speculate on the finer points of marine architecture.

0531-28 - Royal Artillery Barracks.
At Woolwich, 2 miles east of Greenwich, Fielding studied to become an officer in the Royal Artillery. Woolwich is still an artillery town. I walk southward from the market square looking for colourful historic buildings. This is the Royal Artillery barracks -- Victorian. Need something earlier, around 1820.

0531-22 - Old Royal Military Academy.
Ah, here it is, the Old Royal Military Academy, known as "the shop" to inmates. The Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers were technical regiments. Preferrment was slow and generally based on merit and seniority. But a middle-class boy with aptitude and modest means could make his way here.

0531-20 - ORMA, side view.
!A side view of the Academy complex.

0531-21 - ORMA, closer view.
Something tells me one of those second floor windows had a lot to do with young Fielding's stay in Woolwich. !Some confrontation with his fellow cadets or superior officers. Or, perhaps it had something to do with the return to England of Lady Montague in 1820.

0531-23 - Rotunda museum, Nash, 1820.
The Rotunda Museum, originally a tent, was given a permanent roof by the architect Nash in 1820. It houses a complete collection of gunnery from earliest times, including experimental models and Congreve Rockets.

0531-24 - RM, cannons.
!Decorative display of cannons on the outer wall. !Odd how nicely instruments of death and destruction mellow with age. We allow ourselves to be distracted by the intricacies of powder manufacture, rifling, breech mechanisms, gunsights -- all directed to one purpose: killing people and destroying property.

0531-25 - RM, AA guns.
!Modern anti-aircraft guns. !At least, modern in the days before homing missiles. Can you imagine some poor, steel-helmeted conscript, forced to sight down that long barrel through the shuddering cross-hairs while the image of a Stuka dive bomber grows ever larger until ...

0531-26 - RM, view of grounds under cannon barrel.
In the grounds of the museum is a pleasant little park for retired Regimental Sergeant-Majors to meditate on the futility of war. On the eve of Britain's peaceful entry into the European Community, remember that most of the weapons displayed here were developed for use in European-related conflicts.

0531-29 - Biggest bloody mortar in England.
!The biggest bloody mortar in England. !Fired only 19 times and never in anger. In 1858 it lobbed a shell weighing 2359 lbs. a distance of 2759 yds. !In the background, the central part of Woolwich town.

0531-31 - City hall (?)
!The city hall, Woolwich. !A fine piece of baroque something or other.

0531-32 - CH, front or rear (?)
Done by some famous architect. Can't remember his name. Anybody recall?

0338-24 - Big Ben.
Back in London we resume our Thames walk at the Houses of Parliament. This time we'll take the south bank.

0338-25 - Cromwell.
!Oliver Cromwell fought for the supremacy of Parliament and briefly established a republic. Then he succumbed to the temptations of absolute power and became Lord Protector.

0338-26 - Roofline.
The building must have been recently cleaned because these spires never looked so golden in former days. Or is it just the film I'm using? !A new variety of colour negative.

0338-27 - Spires.
!A roof climber's delight. However, to counter roof-climbers and terrorists alike, security has been beefed up. No longer can the public enter the building without special invitation.

0338-28 - Richard Coeur de Lion.
!Not quite sure what Richard Coeur de Lion has to do with Parliament. During his regrettable absence on some ill-conceived crusade, King John became overbearing. The nobles felt compelled to force him to sign the Magna Carta, England's great founding document of constitutional government.

0340-14 - Burghers of Calais .
!At the south end of the building, in the gardens beside the Thames, "The Burghers of Calais" by Rodin. The monument commemorates the English Queen who pursuaded her husband, King Edward III, to show clemency to those who volunteered as hostages in order to raise the seige of Calais in 1347.

0340-15 - HP from S. end Lambeth bridge?
We cross over Lambeth Bridge and view the Houses of Parliament from the south side of the Thames. You are now looking downstream. On the right, is a scenic walk that will take us all the way to Tower Bridge without the irritation of traffic noise and fumes.

0338-28a - Lambeth Palace.
First point of interest on the right is Lambeth Palace, the seat of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Under the monarch, he is head of the English Church. England, like Isreal, has an established religion, though in practice, few nations (and few churches) could be more dedicated to liberal humanism.

0340-17 - HP from S. embankment walkway.
!A closer view of the Houses of Parliament. Looks like those barges are carrying beer barrels. Not all of them empties from the Houses of Parliament Pub, one hopes.

0338-31 - Cupola, County Hall.
!The cupola of County Hall, a building previously seen from Westminster Pier, across the Thames.

0340-20 - Hungerford Foot Bridge, view from S. emb.
!From the south bank, new construction opposite the Hungerford foot bridge. Sightseeing in London has one difficulty the travel hype doesn't mention. Due to demolition and new construction, the sidewalks of some streets have become almost continuous corridors of hoardings.

0340-22 - St. Paul's, Blackfriar's bridge from S. emb.
!St. Paul's and Blackfriars Bridge. You can see what Prince Charles goes on about. Characterless modern buildings are constantly threatening to encroach on the classic monuments of London architecture. Yes, Charles, there really is a difference between old and new. The new buildings aren't put up for the glory of God, or even for the glory of Commerce, but simply to stack up units of floor space. Urban towers aren't homes for religion, empire or corporate tycoons. They're more like sanitised hives for human bees. The people who design them, as well as the rest of us who have to work in them, are the unwitting agents of a kind of insect-like proliferation.

0340-23 - Inca singers in Gabriel's Wharf Market.
The easy answer to modern urban blight is more boutiques and folksingers. These bewildered conscripts in the war against blah are just off the plane from Peru. They entertain strollers in Gabriel's Market Wharf, a commercial development on the south bank.

0340-26 - Blackfriars bridge.
Now this is a monument to Commerce, Victorian style.

0340-24 - Dragon guarding bridge.
A dragon on the bridge warns traffic entering London from the south: No slowing down for tourists to cross the road.

0340-28 - Pillars of demolished Blackfriars railway bridge.
!The pillars of a demolished bridge leading into Blackfriars Railway station. Some urban development controversy that outsiders are unaware of must have led to the preservation of the pillars after the overhead deck was removed.

0340-29 - Southwark Bridge, Cannon St. Br. in back (?)
!Southwark and Cannon St. Bridges. New buildings have largely replaced the old at this point. A couple of mudlarks can be seen on the riverbank at right. !No, not ornithology, Kayo. They're using a metal detector at low tide to look for treasure.

0340-30 - New development seen from S. emb.
!More new development, with a few bits of tradition left. The medium height buildings seem reasonably appropriate in scale. Glass walls do have an intriguing look, but sure enough, behind that glass, lies the familiar Kaffka-esque wilderness of desks, movable partitions, broadloom and video terminals.

0340-32 - HMS Belfast, tower bridge.
!HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge, near the end of our walk on the south bank. No more bridges cross the Thames between here and the North Sea.

0340-33 - HMS Belfast, closer w. tower of london in back.
!Across the bow, the Tower of London.

0340-34 - Fantastic sculpture, "The Navigators" in Hays Galleria.
!Still on the south bank, a fantastic sulpture: "The Navigators" in the Hays Galleria. !A less destructive form of modernisation. Interesting old commercial buildings have their shells preserved. Developers get their floor space, but also provide a more "public" dimension in their designs.

0340-36 - Tower Bridge.
!Tower Bridge. This view probably wouldn't have existed in earlier days. Old warehouses have been demolished to make a park. The neighbourhood is certainly is more interesting and accessible today, in contrast to the arid commercial alleyways I recall from the 50s.

0340-37 - Tower of London.
!Directly across from the park, the Tower of London. Above the red tanks on the left is a sign that says: "Entry to the Traitors' Gate."

0341-03 - Pillar box and M.
These two sweeties in red chapeaux were standing at the base of Tower Bridge eating gelati.

0341-05 - Tower Bridge, middle link.
!The middle link of Tower Bridge. It's the only thing that keeps the north and the south banks of the Thames from drifting apart.

0341-06 - View toward greenwich from top span.
!View toward Greenwich from the top span. !On the centre horizon, the hills near the observatory. !To the left, the cranes of the Docklands development. !Down the river on the right, a dark brown condo development where John Cleese had a spot of embarrassment in a film about a fish called Wanda.

0341-07 - Boat passing under Tower Bridge.
Tower Bridge is raised or lowered by water-pressure motors on each side. The upper spans carry hydraulic lines from the pumphouse on the south bank to the motors in the north tower. The original steam engines are not longer in use but still on view.

0341-08 - Walking across Tower Bridge.
Walking across the bridge at the traffic level you can feel heavy vehicles make the moveable span bounce and sway.

0341-09 - View of the Albert Memorial.
Toward the end of our stay, we assign priorites for all the things we still hadn't seen yet. The Victoria and Albert Museum comes up number one, for reasons Merle is mysterious about. She's been there already and wants me to see something. On the way, we walk past the Albert Memorial.

0341-14 - Sculpture group, America.
Sculpture groups guard the four corners. With that buffalo and the Indian head-dress, this has to represent America.

0341-13 - Europe.
!And this, Europa on the back of a bull, decently clothed. Hate to quibble, chaps, but Europa is really pre-Christian, unless those crosses on the crowns are only intended as a floral design.

0341-12 - Africa.
Africa has fewer anachronisms. Dreadlocks. Sphinx. Cleopatra on a camel.

0341-15 - Asia.
But it's Asia, mounted on her elephant, who triumphs -- ably supported by a Chinese gentleman bearing crockery, a Babylonian Wise Man and Lawrence of Arabia. I don't know much about art, but I know what I like.

0341-10 - View, Albert in profile.
Albert meditates in profile while we head on toward the Victoria Albert. Can't escape the feeling, this is really a transplanted Oriental temple, perhaps from Burma or Thailand, or even Bali. Note the high, pyramidal form, the rich colours, the god-like manifestation seated within.

0341-19 - General view of plaster cast gallery.
Here's the surprise. Emerging from dim corridors we find two huge sky-lit galleries jammed with a phantasmagoria of sculpture. All fake. Copies in plaster and metal, painstakingly captured via moulds made from the originals and cast in the workshops of the museum.

0341-17 - Cathedral doorway.
This cathedral doorway is a convincing copy of the real one. And is that Donatello's David on the right? First problem to cope with is the un-nerving realism of each piece. How can this be when you know the original is located elsewhere?

0341-18 - Michelangelo's David.
Then, comes the shock of having so much of it flung together like so many pieces of bric-a-brac. !Nowhere else but the V.
A. At other museums, the impulse to acquire lifesize copies of great art has declined with the years. Now, except for gift-shop items, museums seem embarrassed to offer reproductions.

0341-20 - The Gosforth Cross.
We saw the real Gosforth Cross in a churchyard at Gosforth. Stay tuned for our trip to Scotland and the north of England.

0341-22 - Trajan's Column.
Trajan's Column unsettles the mind. Looks like they had to cut it in two to get it under the roof. Staring up, you grope for the nearest handrail. What's on display here isn't just art. It's the whole room: the now obsolete desire to collect 3-D copies as if they where photographs in some holographic encyclopedia.

0341-23 - Various graces, lovelies, etc.
Graces, lovelies, heroes, heroines are so numerous as to be distracting. The road to hades, they say, is lined with great statuary. Well, I say.

0341-16 - Perseus slaying Medusa at the base of Trajan's Column.
!A gory finale to our stay in London: looks like Perseus murdering Medusa at the foot of Trajan's Column. Actually, I'm told the outrage didn't really happen at the foot of Trajan's Column, and not in Rome, but in Greece somewhere. And Trajan had nothing to do with it. But you can imagine the sort of confusion museums unwittingly create in literal minds by jumbling time and space together in one room. Never mind literal minds. The restraint of original context is completely gone. Fantasic new relationships between incompatible ideas blossom like dandelions in the spring grass. The mind leaps tall monuments at a single bound. Isn't tourism wonderful?

The End.

black -
History {hist}

07-05-20: finished picture edits: levels, sharpen. Minimum, no dust picking or masking.
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