At the Victoria & Albert Museum

Before I go into a whole “Armitage fan experience in London” post, I’m first posting about something else I was able to do there. I had arrived in London last Sunday morning and spent a lovely day just hanging out and chatting with my brother and some with my niece.

Then on Monday I had the day to myself and I decided to finally visit the Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington. I had never been there and had always meant to go there one day. It was a good day to pick that, as it was a cold, dreary and very wet day. Picture taken from the bus I was on; the window was wet, it almost looks like an impressionist painting.

20200224_124333I got to the museum and somehow it seemed much larger than I had thought. I mean, I knew it housed a very diverse collection but this was much bigger than I had expected.

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I wandered around on the ground floor a bit, particularly liking the statues gallery…

… and then went in search of the café for something to eat. The old café was beautiful, but alas there was no space for me to sit there…

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So, I sat in the more modern section and really enjoyed my scone and cup of tea.

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Even going to a bathroom at the café was a museum experience with old tiles and fawcets bearing Georg Vth initials, which indicates they were somewhere from the beginning of the 20th century.

Speaking of royalty, on my way to the medieval section I passed the car Harry and Meghan had used at the end of their wedding day

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It was basically an ad for the vintage cars exhibition that was also on at the V&A but that I didn’t end up visiting.

In the medieval section I was struck by this early 16th century tapestry from Brussels depicting Queen Esther (she after whom I have been named):

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I also love looking at old books, like this early printed book from 1521, not long after the printing press had been invented.

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Some more nice vistas as you walk through the museum:

I have seen lots of medieval art and statues and the like in many museums over the years, so for me the high point of the museum was something I have not seen that much of: an exhibition on early photography. Even just looking at all those cameras before you enter the room was fascinating.

I was in awe seeing an early heliograph image of Christ carrying the cross from 1827. You can barely see the image but it’s there (click to enlarge)…

… and an 1840’s daguerreotype image of a collage of famous faces.

I liked this 1850s image. Imagine keeping that little dog still enough for long enough to create this image!

An early camera was on display…

And there were more fascinating 19th century images, with one image also of Alice Liddell, who was the ‘real’ Alice in Wonderland.

Absolutely fascinating, including some early 3D imagery you could see through this viewer but that I couldn’t take pictures of.

The other section I was fascinated with was the theatre collection (with a little movie glam thrown in).  The horse for the War Horse production was there…

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And other theatre costumes…

There was the Henry V costume as worn by Richard Burton…

And a costume designed by Dior for Vivien Leigh in a movie…

Vivien Leigh seems to have bequeathed some of her memorabilia to the V&A. The Oscar she had won for A Streetcar Named Desire in the 1950s was on display…

… as was a telegram addressed to Laurence Olivier (Vivien Leigh’s husband at the time) from Lillian and Dorothy Gish, movie stars of mainly the silent movie era, congratulating Leigh on her brilliant acting performance in Streetcar.

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There were more awards on display from other actors for other performances:

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And some music related memorabilia of David Bowie…

and Madness…

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This is just a tiny impression of all there is to see at the V&A and I saw way more than I took pictures of. It’s a great museum, very diverse and I by far haven’t seen everything. I may have to return there again sometime.

By the time I finally emerged from the musem at the end of the afternoon, it had stopped raining. I again took a bus, this time to Piccadilly Circus, and the view was somewhat less impressionist:

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I was off to go and meet Hariclea for evening theatre shenanigans at the Harold Pinter Theatre. More on that in my next post. 🙂

Madness, they call it madness!

“Madness, madness, they call it madness! Well if this is madness, then I know I’m filled with gladness!”

Yep, Mr Esther and I went to see Madness live last night, they performed in a quite intimate venue in Utrecht, which made it extra awesome! They are probably most known for their “Our House… in the middle of our street” song. I really like Madness, Mr Esther loves them, so we went and it was a great night out!

Every time I think of Madness, I am reminded of my wedding when at the party (we had a DJ) Madness was played and Mr Esther and his best friend went all, well, mad! They jumped around like crazy on the dancefloor so that everyone dancing had to make room for them. Last night, sure enough, Mr Esther was jumping up and down again! The man never, ever dances but Madness brings something out in him and he just can’t help himself. I absolutely love that!

I preferred to enjoy the concert instead of documenting it faithfully, so I only made videos of bits of songs here and there that I put together in this one video. Like Mr Esther, I couldn’t stand still either, so the camera is all over the place. The sound is not great either, there’s this recurring static noise that is sadly annoying,  but you get the idea. Songs featured in this video are ‘Wings of the Dove’, ‘House of Fun’ (at 1:46 minutes), ‘Baggy Trousers’ (at 2:47 with a brief glimpse of Mr Esther jumping at 2:57 minutes), ‘Our House’ (at 3:42 minutes, the only song I recorded completely) and ‘Night Boat to Cairo’ (at 6:40 minutes). Mr Esther fervently hoped they’d play Cairo’ and they did that as an awesome finale.

They played a lot of their hits like the ones mentioned above and also ‘Madness’, ‘One Step Beyond’ and ‘It Must Be Love’. That last one suddenly reminded me of one of the first fan videos (with screen caps only) that I had made for Silent Witness, using that song for my Harry & Nikki obsession at the time (I’m still not over them never actually getting together on the show).

The band really was great, the singer Suggs (Graham McPherson) sounds really good live, just like you’d hope for him to sound when you know his records, and it was an upbeat, happy evening all round! Suggs interacted nicely with the audience, even accepting a beer from one of them at one point. There was a little boy in the front row (maybe 6 or 7 years old) wearing big headphones and that boy was interacted with several times, which was cute! Suggs thought the venue looked like the bridge of the Starship Enterprise from his point of view, which was worth a few jokes. 🙂

The only down side I could think of was that the concert lasted only 90 minutes; I wouldn’t have minded another half hour or hour on top of that at least…