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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 35, September 3, 2007, Article 13

WAYNE'S LONDON DIARY 31 AUGUST, 2007

Friday came for me like the movie Groundhog Day - the alarm
rang at the same time, met my colleagues in the lobby (again)
and took a cab to Euston station (again).  The only difference
was that we went to Leavesden this time.  Once we arrived,
while the others had breakfast I started working on The E-Sylum
- better all around than having another sausage sandwich.

It was a busy and productive day, and I was back at my hotel
at the very decent hour of 5:30.  Some of the others were
going boozing, but I passed on the chance to go along.  I
stopped in my room briefly to shed my jacket, tie and computer.
Out I went into the nice London evening.  I walked past one
of the neighborhood churches, where I see weddings taking place
regularly.  One time there was a white Rolls Royce parked out
front.  I made my way across the main road into Hyde Park.
Tonight's destination: the Victoria & Albert Museum, among
the world's greatest museums of art and design.

But I was sidetracked a bit while passing Kensington Palace.
The crowds at the gates were much larger than the night before.
Princes William and Harry had held a memorial service for their
mother earlier in the day elsewhere in London.  There were 500
attendees, but I understand the event was televised.  I mingled
with the crowd and saw that many more people had added cards,
photos and flower bouquets to the palace gates.  It was very
touching, yet on a smaller scale than the spontaneous outpouring
of ten years ago, when the walk where I stood had been
literally knee-deep in flowers.

I noticed that the palace gates were open tonight, and I walked
onto the grounds and stood about ten feet from the building.
A short local man dressed in a wild Union Jack outfit with the
word "DIANA" written across his forehead came over to ask me
about the flowers.  It was an awkward-looking, but pleasant
conversation.  Later I caught up with him and he let me take
his picture.  I told my wife about the encounter, and she
later told me that she'd seen the same man on television.

I kept walking and stopped at an Italian restaurant for dinner.
I'd had a cold since Wednesday and had run out of tissues.  I
asked my waitress for some paper napkins. She looked puzzled
and asked "Paper?" in an Eastern-European accent. "Yes", I
said - "paper".  She came back with a pepper mill and put
pepper on my spaghetti.  I finally got some paper napkins
from my Italian-accented (but English-speaking) waiter.

When I got to the V&A the place was rockin'.  A DJ was playing
loud Reggae music in the cavernous lobby.  A bar was serving
drinks.  What would Queen Victoria think?  I walked through
to the gift shop and took a look at the books for sale.  Topics
included 70's fashion, camouflage, sculpture, and ceramics.
Nothing on coins or medals.

I began walking through the galleries and came across a beautiful,
life-like, serene sculpture.  It was a monument to Emily Georgiana
by Lawrence MacDonald, 1850.  The hall was filled with great
sculptural works on British and classical subjects.  I continued
on through several galleries and did encounter some numismatic
items interspersed through the exhibits.

In the Northern Europe gallery I saw portrait medallions of George
Frederick Handel and Dr Conyers Middleton by Louis Francois Roubilic
(1702-62).  Nearby I saw boxwood medallions from around 1550
representing the seasons, and large silver medals by Hans Krafft
the Elder dated 1521, 1537 and 1539.

I passed a doorway that would make any bibliophile drool - the
National Art Library.  Closed for the evening, I could see
through the huge glass doors a tantalizing glimpse of a classic
two-story library of tens of thousands of volumes - a bibliophile's
dream.

In the Sacred Stained Glass and Silver room I spotted three
communion tokens of Birmingham or London dated 1803, ~1850 and
1871 (in silver, nickel and nickel, respectively).  In the
Renaissance 1400-1600 Europe room I saw three coins of Emperor
Trajan (98-117AD).  The text read: "ancient Roman coins were
very popular with Renaissance collectors.  By owning them, and
copying aspects of them in their own commissions, patrons could
acquire some of the glory of the classical world."

In another hall I saw what looked to be cemetery monuments of
dead medieval knights in chain mail.  I imagined the questions
I’d be asked if my kids were with me.  “Daddy, why are their
legs crossed like that?”   I would thoughtfully reply, “Because
eternity is a long to go without getting up to use a toilet.”

Before leaving the museum I stepped out into the courtyard,
which was delightfully lit.  Another bar was set up and crowds
of people stood around drinking and talking.  It was a really
lovely night.  My work friends had gone out drinking, but I'd
had my own fun this evening (and two glasses of wine with
dinner to ease into the weekend).  The V&A was very enjoyable,
and I'd recommend it to anyone visiting London.

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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