1.078.1 King Tut, Tate

Tuesday, 2/18/2020

Had a hard time going to sleep, awake past 1am. Too energized by the music, I guess. Sitting in the theater before the show started last night I was hearing cough, cough from several points around me. One gray-haired lady a row back and a few over was definitely coughing openly, not even trying to cover her mouth. This morning: I have a scratchy throat and a runny nostril (only one, go figure). I had been congratulating myself for several days prior on not catching anything; remarkable given how many handrails and door handles I am touching in public places, and riding in crowded train cars. Welp, finally caught something.

Today I was booked for Tutankhamun: treasures of the golden pharaoh (scroll for pictures and info) at the Saatchi Gallery. Centenary of the opening of the tomb, etc. i-wtmlm35-mThis was the first attraction I’ve visited that had a queue to get in. Later in the morning I would learn why.

Fashion digression. Before I came I was a little bit concerned about not bringing any dressy clothes. Just chinos and turtlenecks. Well: no worries, mate. Nobody dresses up, not for the theater, not for a restaurant, mostly not for work, although I see a few commuters in suits or dressy-looking skirts. Jeans go pretty much anywhere.

Also, see picture, people wear ski parkas outdoors in winter. Girls are especially fond of the faux-fur hood lining, and there are lots of wooly hats. (Frankly, this is overkill. The lowest temp I’ve seen is 40F, and my simple windbreaker, zipped up, is fine.) And many people tote backpacks (see picture again) wherever they go.

Back to Tut. There were some pretty things, all nicely presented in glass cases.

But I felt a bit cheated in that some things were not here, in particular the famous gold mask.


I also had bought the “3-D experience” which was interesting. We wore Oculus (I think) VR goggles, but also sat in zippy looking chairs that moved and tilted to assist the feeling of flying or turning. What we saw was a 7-minute documentary “flying” in and around the tomb to see the artifacts in their original positions. Marginally worth the extra ~20$ ticket.

Out at 11:30 and hungry, so had a snack and a soda at a nearby Pret a Manger, a chain of healthy fast-food restaurants that are all over this town. Then: I have time for another museum, which? Well, the Science Museum of course. I decide to cab it, as there was a cab rank right outside. The cab drops me in front of the Natural History museum, next door to the Science museum, and I am amazed to find a massive queue of people, a double serpentine barrier a block long. What’s happening, I say, and the cab driver says, Oh, it’s hoff-term holiday. The UK school system runs three “terms” (we call them “quarters”) and each one is broken by a one-week holiday, mid-October, -February, and -May.

So the massive queue at the Natural History museum and also next door, is mostly parents with grade-school age kids, having a wholesome activity. Booooo!

OK, I do not want to wait in a long queue or share a museum with lots of kids. Where can I go that won’t be as popular with parents? I get out my phone and go into Dropbox and pull up my file of museums and attractions. Pleased to note I’ve been to almost all the A-list. But… oh yeah, Tate Britain. I went to Tate Modern, but Tate Britain is a different building with a focus on British art from 1700 to now. I work out a Tube route and off I go.

Tate Britain also has a school party, but only in one gallery and they are focused and also cute.

After spending an hour wending my way from 1700 to 1850, and not half done, I was feeling a bit tired. It was approaching 2pm and I had a decision. Do I stay and look at “the world’s largest collection of Turners”, or stay and take the docent-led highlights tour, or do I start for home? Turner… I’ve seen enough misty landscapes by him and many others already this trip. Tour was tempting, but it would be at least an hour, and I wouldn’t be home until 3:30, and I have to leave again at 5-ish. So I wimped out and headed back, leaving the Tate only partly tapped. Tut, tut.


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