Start by joining thousands of others on the pilgrimage to South Kensington tube station to emerge at the Natural History Museum…and join a huge crowd queuing in the torrential rain. No way! Take an intelligent deviation into the wonderland of the Victoria and Albert Museum just next door.
Hours of pleasure hunting through the gathered treasures of ages, and plenty of interactive stuff too. Feel the goosebumps as you see the first edition of William Shakespeare’s plays, the doodles in Da Vinci’s note-book and the icons to our religious and theatrical past.
From there still avoid the ever-growing, continually drenched queue to the History Museum and take a quick tube to the glorious monument which is St Paul’s Cathedral.
An excellent virtual tour via i phone interprets the architectural glory and rich historical density. Passing by the statue of John Donne you hear his stricken heart crying:
“Batter my heart, three-person’d God, for you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp’d town to another due,
Labor to admit you, but oh, to no end;
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be lov’d fain,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy;
Divorce me, untie or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.”
Such exaltation leads to the elevation of climbing the 528 steps to the Golden Gallery via
the mythic Whispering Gallery with its paintings of St Paul’s life dominating the dome.
Emerging into the lighted altar for evensong, the raised fingers of the risen Christ beckon
worship. Cranmer’s age-old liturgy resounds once again as Mary’s Magnificat and
Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis marry the Jewish Psalmic tradition and humble the heart to the universal DNA of devotion.
Begin the next day, relatively queueless (or even clueless?) and certainly less soaked, at
the unmissable Natural History Museum. Relive “A Night at the Museum” in the famous
entrance hall and then do the dinosaurs with the growling T. Rex. Guy the gorilla – a
stuffed relic from London zoo, brings back childhood memories while the huge model
whale never fails to thrill.
After such a fossilised morning, stimulate the artist in you with a visit to the National
Gallery. Another superb building filled with the masterpieces of history. A synergy of
visual genius unveiled to hungry hearts and eyes.
Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, Van Eyck’s Arnolfini couple, and Rembrandt’s rendition of
Belshazzar’s feast – where the writing is really on the wall, weigh us all in the balance.
Escaping into the dynamic Covent Garden, seeking a more prosaic “Evensong”, the
Novello theatre offers the universal panacea of Abba and the “Mama Mia” musical.
“Dancing Queen” and “Waterloo” herald the end of a brilliant couple of days.
“See that girl, watch that scene…”