Love for Victoria (& Albert too)
Wednesday we (ie: self and daughter’s family with two small persons) reluctantly extracted ourselves from the farmyard near Thame where we’ve been talking to cows and magpies the past couple of weeks and flung ourselves at London, to insert said daughter’s family onto an aeroplane Thursday morning. A process that proved rather more troublesome than any reasonable individual might expect. United having thrown its hands up and had the vapors like a Victorian heiress, said family grabbed at the opportunity to transfer onto British Airlines. Which, despite the late notice, at least managed to a) get them four seats together, only three of which they had paid for since one member is less than two years old and b) succeeded in presenting them with two (count them: two) car seats upon their arrival at San Francisco.
None of their other luggage, mind, those suitcases being somewhere in the bowels of Heathrow, but at least they could drive home without having to duct tape the kids to the seats. (And in case you’re wondering, the daughter’s husband being an engineer, yes they do travel with duct tape. In more than one color.)
While all this was going on, I was attempting to let Avis have their car back, Avis being singularly uninterested in having their car back, and by the time I had traded a ton or so of motor for a three-inch length of printed paper, my family had been sucked into the security vortex. So I boarded the tube to London.
I adore the Victoria & Albert museum, one of my two favorite grandmother’s attic sorts of places (the other being the Pitt Rivers, which is anthropology to the V&A’s art and textile focus.) My first visit to London, in the winter of 1977 (during such a bitter cold spell the gas fires in sitting rooms burned a sullen orange, the evening roasts were not cooked through until midnight, and a genuine London cab driver admitted defeat and pointed out the entrance to the tube station) my husband took me to the V&A to meet Tipu’s Tiger.
I said hello to the fellow again this time (have you seen the Youtube video of what the tiger’s internal organ–ooh, punny joke!–sounds like? It’s here. ) and then went to look at all the Victoriana I could find (have I mentioned that The Murder of Mary Russell will spend a great deal of time in the half-century before Russell is born? Although I’m pretty good on the Twenties, when it comes to 1860-1880, much research is involved…)
And then I wandered over to the best part of any museum visit: the cafe. What is it about museum cafes? An endless source of delight, stimulation, and interest both visual and gastronomical. Of course, being set in William Morris rooms makes the V&A even more of a treat.
However, I have decided that museum visits to London really ought to be done using a base of central London: clawing one’s way into the Underground in the late afternoon shatters any sense of peace and uplift a museum might have given one.