I went up to London today. Bloody train from Hove was packed and I couldn’t get a seat. Then they attached some more carriages at Haywoods Heath and I got a seat next to a bloke who insisted on hanging on like he thought we were about to go into free-fall. At Victoria station getting through the ticket barriers was like a bloody football match and then there was an enormous queue to get into the underground. I gave up and got a bus which got as far as Sloane Square and then stopped along with all the other traffic. We waited for about half an hour moving a couple of inches every now and then and I got out and walked.
I haven’t been to the Science Museum in a while and they’ve tarted it up. By this I mean that they have built a restaurant by the entrance, a restaurant at the back and a snack shop and a gift shop on the 1st floor. God forbid anyone should look at the bloody exhibits. In addition they have a lot of this interactive tosh with screens and whatnot. All geared to get the kids and the intellectually lazy into the museum and God it has worked. Pearls before swine. The politically correct appear to have taken over the first floor with exhibits about gender and race. One moronic piece consisted of a pencil drawing animation of a naked man’s torso and then naked woman’s torso. Drawn in simple line drawings. As they rotate faster, according to the bit of text, it becomes harder and harder to differentiate male from female and, again according to the blurb, by extrapolation this proves that men and women are not very different. What absolute bollocks!
OK, that’s got the rant out of the way.
The old cars and lorries were good. I remembered the fantastic Jet 1 from when I was a boy. This is a gas turbine powered old Rover – It’s still there! What a car! There were some interesting exhibits in the trendy section related to psychology. One that you put your hand into a hole which was stroked by a brush while an artificial hand in front of you was also stroked by a brush and just for second I thought that the hand behind the glass was my hand. Which, apparently, was the point.
The space section still has some great stuff. The real Apollo 10 capsule and a lot of rocket engines. All exhibited in a gallery painted black and lit with spot lights. Personally I’d prefer that they just painted the walls white and lit the entire room well so you could have a good look at the exhibits rather than have some bloody designer trying to give you their impressions of the subject……there I go again, ranting.
The aircraft section was good, of course, and they had some excellent very old computers from Babbages mechanical difference engine to a Cray 1. One ancient old valve machine consisted of wardrobe sized cabinets with handles like old car door handles. They built computers with attention to detail in those days. Strangely they had embedded a clock on the front and it amuses me that this old machine probably did not have the capacity to run a clock program yet today we have digital clocks in everywhere.
They also had a lot of consumer goods from the 1940s to 70s including old hand tools like drills, radios, hair dryers, telephones. All very strange to look back at when you’re as old as me. I also had a look around the section for ships with numerous models of old square riggers. Thankfully old ships don’t seem to be very fashionable and the babble of kids died away allowing one time and space to wonder around and appreciate what marvels these machines were.
After leaving the Science Museum I’d more or less had enough but I thought I’d take a quick look in the main half of the Natural History Museum which is around the corner housed in a beautiful gothic building. However, the queue to get in was enormous and one has to ask: Where the hell do all these people come from? When I lived in London it was possible to jump on a bus or a train at weekends and you had the whole city to explore. Now London seems flooded by tourists following each other around in great crowds gawping at the great wonders that exist here like a cow gazes at a tractor.
One of the worst trends of the late 20th and early 21st century is tourism. It floods the wonders of the world with people who really don”t care and just want to buy a book of pictures and drink a bloody latte. I wish they’d all go home.