Monday, 22 August 2011
A Cultural Afternoon
I had the most lovely afternoon on Friday. I went up to London (how enjoyable that sounds particularly compared to what was a daily grind of commuting!) to have a delicious fish & chip lunch with a friend and then set off for cultural edification.
St Magnus Martyr, one of the two churches mentioned in 'The Wasteland'. The other is St Mary Woolnoth which stands just around the corner from Cornhill, where Eliot worked for Lloyds Bank, in Lombard Street. As the first part of the afternoon plan entailed walking to St Paul's via Cornhill it seemed silly not to take this opportunity to take a look. Apparently this is Nicholas Hawksmoor's only church in the City. I think it looks a bit odd really but it's lucky to have a handsome plot - the umbrella you can see on the front left of the picture is a coffee stand. I had a quick peek inside, it's much plainer than St Magnus Martyr but rather nice in its simplicity. On the wall there is a plaque to Edward Lloyd, proprietor of a coffee shop and founder of Lloyds of London. There is also an odd piece of sculpture at the front of the church which recounts the lines from 'The Wasteland':
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
Doesn't it just celebrate working in an office!!!
St Paul's. The weather was sunny but not too hot or humid and the crowds pretty OK until I got to the cathedral where there were lots and lot of people visiting and taking pictures (hurrah for the British economy!). I would have gone in but I'm trying to be strict with my budget and St Pauls & Westminster Abbey are, I feel, ridiculously expensive. I contented myself with taking lots of pictures from outside and then going down into the shop. I was able to buy a couple of postcards and a bar of chocolate for T (one of those big ones with St Paul's on the outside) so I did do a little bit for the maintenance. It looked as if they had a nice restaurant/cafe in the crypt and the shop was very good so perhaps we can save our pennies and visit properly. By the way if you want to go and pray you can, of course, enter for free.
Then across Paternoster Square, which I thought was quite nice & provided lots of cafes for visitors and into the tube.
Victoria & Albert Museum was required before Week 2 and studying commodities and culture. The V & A has brilliant British Galleries and on the 4th floor one of the rooms celebrates the Great Exhibition of 1851 (the photograph to the left shows an illustration of the Greek/Turkish stand within the Crystal Palace). I had a list of questions to consider in respect of the manufacture of some of the exhibits which are now in the V&A and so I would have a good look and then sit and write the answers on my i-pad. I felt like I was on a school trip and I'm sure the few people who were also wandering through the galleries were wondering what I was doing (particularly one little girl who tried very hard to see what I was writing). By the way I asked one of the staff members about taking photographs and he seemed very relaxed about it! Although it's only one room it's very interesting, from the items that were entered for medals to the souvenirs such as the Great Exhibition wallpaper and the picallili (?) lids. The V&A, and other South Kensington museums, were founded on the profits of the Great Exhibition so it's very appropriate to have an exhibition there and of course, this year is the 160th anniversary. (There is also an exhibition about the 1951 Festival of Britain down at the South Bank that is worth seeing). I was able to answer my questions, have a look in the shop and take time for a drink and rather nice scone in the V&A cafe and still be home for 7p.m. A really good afternoon.
I shall leave it there as I need to listen to a radio programme about Emily Dickinson. I'll update on reading very shortly. Thank you, as always, for reading.