One of my favourite things, as long-term blue cat readers will know, is being shouted at in museums. As part of my long-held ambition to be shouted at in every museum in the UK, I was able to top being shouted at in the V&A, by being shouted at in the Natural History Museum, but, and this is the cool bit, going in the Earth Gallery (rocks and that). It takes a special kind of person to get shouted at for upsetting Mostly Rocks, I feel.
In Cornwall, going into a museum with a bag is a simple, everyday matter. No-one thinks twice about it. In London of course, it becomes Going Into A Museum With A Bag. In my defence, the layout where you're supposed to go past large blokes who rifle through your stuff is off to one side, so appears to be entirely optional. Also, I had my earphones on, and was listening to Lemon Jelly, who I haven't heard for ages. I saw the side entrance for people in wheechairs, thought 'aha, this might be a cunning way of sneaking past the inevitable hordes at the main entrance', and smiled slightly at my own cunningness. Perhaps at that moment my hair was ruffled slightly by the London breeze as if in affirmation of my carpe dieming, perhaps it wasn't. *
Anyway, I made my entrance, in the style of a young foreign prince, and swished past a lady in a red t-shirt, who let me go just slightly past, then shouted at me. To show that I don't take being shouted at by anybody, I then stuck my nose in the air, turned on my heel and flounced back out onto the street.
Unfortunately, by the time I got the main entrance, it was jam-packed with approximately nineteen million different groups of excited foreign people, and so with a heavy heart I realised I was going to have to attempt re-entry via the ill-tempered entrance to the world of minerals.
Fortunately, I didn't have to use my prepared story about being the body double for the actual young prince that I now really was, coming in properly for the first time (like Keira Knightly being a body double for Thingy Padme in Episode One, which was like a glace cherry of a confusing moment on a specially-made Confusing Trifle), as in the mere moments since I had swished out, the woman in the red-t-shirt had been demoted guarding some cupboards to one side. Clearly someone had noticed how royalty had been treated moments before and placed her in some kind of holding pattern before her eventual dismissal, and I like to think, public stoning. She glared at me balefully as I passed, my bag now checked, but was unable to do any shouting at all.
The rocks and that bit is very nice, and if you ask another attendant for directions to where the 'animals bit' is (oh words, why do you desert me when I need you most?), he will sigh only very briefly before sending you the right way, bypassing the hordes. I did spend ages looking at pebbles though, just so he didn't think I was using his special bit of the museum as a time-saving way of seeing dinosaurs, which of course I was.
I also had to research giant centipedes. If you see a centipede with a rounded body, armour plating and two legs sticking out of either body section, munching placidly on some leaf mould, then you have been set up. What you have actually seen is a millipede. The centipede, who is carnivorous, is probably just been behind you, jaws (which are actually modified legs) quivering in anticipation. No good jumping over a stream as well, because he can swim. Eek.
Later I went back into the V&A - the Modernism exhibition is, as Patroclus has already stated, quite marvellous. Once I'd got past the two teenage girls on the tickety bit, worthy of double act to be named, inevitably, 'Dappy and French', I then walked past a bored-looking large man, whose job it clearly was to stop cornish lunatics coming in carrying bags.
I held my bag up at him in an encouraging, playing along sort of way, only for him to shrug.
ME: Do you need to see my bag?
Very long pause. Finally:
LARGE MAN: Nah.
Clearly word had got around: the tall chap, with the great hair? Impede him at your peril.
* It was though.