Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Only in London Part 1: Drinking with Dinosaurs

Often people back home ask me "Why would you live in London? The weather and dentistry are terrible, it's full of poms... sure you can travel, but that's about getting OUT of London. Why would you live IN it?" To those people I reply with this series of 'Only in London' posts, dedicated to fantabulous - it's what the F stands for, remember - events so London-y you couldn't imagine them happening anywhere else. So read the posts, shut up, and go back to dodging sharks.

Last Friday of the month at the Natural History Museum
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You'll know already that I'm quite partial to the occasional museum. The reverence for objects that no longer serve a useful purpose, other than simply having once existed, to be admired, studied, beheld; the collected historical quanta of human life, thought and experience, housed together to shelter from the bustling, Blackberry-wielding world outside; someone occasionally popping in to admire the relics, gaze upon them in awe and wonder, and leave again reminded, in a good way, of your own personal insignificance in the grand scheme of things, without having to resort to inventing a god. Or maybe it's just the mustiness.

But I ramble. Musea are great in their own right, but are usually a little... uptight. Lots of "No participle" signs. So it's great when a museum lets its hair down, takes off the specs, and much like a scene in any cheesy teen movie, with a shake of the head, is suddenly transformed, and you can't help but gasp "Wow, you were awesome all along, and I just didn't realise..."

The big musea in London are free. It might take you a while to get your head around that. And I won't go into the argument about whether that cheapens the museum and its collection, or is an accurate reflection of their pricelessness. Once you've assimilated that fact, assimilate this: once a month, they open their doors late and let you go in and wander around the collections with a glass of red in your hand. I shit you not. (Aside: I didn't realise how quintessentially Sydney that phrase was until I came here... and when I hear someone utter it, it makes me unbearably homesick for no reason I can fathom... I shit you not.) And so I eventually get to the point. Leaving work on a Friday, and heading to the Natural History Museum for a few drinks with friends, seeing the Darwin exhibition in this, the year of Chucky D (200 years since he was born, dontcherknow... which opens up your eyes to both the progress and regress that has occured since then), and also casting an eye over the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition (which opens up your eyes to the plight of some marvellous animals, and also to the fact that there are spoilt 10 year olds out there being given DSLRs and taken on safari trips to Africa)... well, a night like that, it's as close as I get to being a pig in muck.

It was so good I even signed up on the night and became a member. I shit you not.

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