Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Only a couple left now.

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.

Ho yuss.




* It was though.


50 comments:

cello said...

Isn't rock-upsetting part of the standard curriculum for Cornish schools?

And centipedes sound terrifying. Which makes them dead certs for appearing any day now on Dr Who in CG form.

James, I got a bounce-back from your normal email(have you gone underground because of the death-threats?) but I was wondering whether you'd like me to post you 2 of those things with pictures on from Friday.

Aimee said...

I fully intend to be a disgruntled museum worker one day. And when I am, I will do my utmost to find people to shout at, regardless of fault. So just you watch out.

james henry said...

Cello - have emailed you.

aimee - I used to love shouting at people when I worked in a bookshop. Only reason for going to work in the morning.

Kirses said...

clearly you a wild card, a breaker of rules ...I could never walk in the entrance designated for disabled folk. I have a major fear of getting in trouble and being shouted out - especially in public.

edzmen said...

lol - that was hilarious little yarn James, thanks for that little ‘moment of merriment’.

You have a similar way with words to a certain ‘Mr T’. Pratchett [this is intended as a compliment, you understand!]...

Elfgirl said...

I admire your grace. If I stuck my nose in the air and turned on my heel before waking away I'd probably make contact with a door/wall/big scary person. I' more of a keep-my-head-down-and-don't-make-eye-contact sort of girl.

jayne said...

Hah! Can you go to New York, just so we can read what happens when you try taking any bag bigger than a peanut into a museum? I don't want to mention Homeland Security but it'd make a damn good entry on your blog (when they eventually let you out).

leonie said...

you have a strange fascination, not to say narcicisstic (how do you spell that again?) obsession, with your own hair, don't you?

at least you've talked about your hair before on this blog.

james henry said...

Sometimes it's all I talk about.

Anonymous said...

Well it is such lovely hair.

jk said...

I'd be careful about the "Mr T. Pratchett" references if I were you. When I worked in a bookshop, I was warned about "that man" by a colleague. Apparently his speciality is inducing tears from Waterstones workers; he - and I quote here - "puts the 'prat' in Pratchett".




Writes rather good books though...

Aimee said...

Ah, I worked in a cinema, so I had plenty of opportunities to shout at the public there. Usually in the middle of busy films. It was brilliant.
Bookshop shouting would be fun. A library would be even better.

I'm curious, what makes your hair so wonderful?

belladona said...

Yay! I am that person who shouts at inoffensive visitors to museums. My day is here!

Actually James, you should help us out by pretending to be mad - we're always very happy to meet a new sort of nutter.

I was very jealous of one of the other museums I work in today - they had a lady who was the sister of the Queen. Apparently she was kidnapped by a taxi driver from Buckingham Palace during the War. Later she decided she was also the daughter of Glen Miller. She sounded even better than my personal favourite: man-who-thought-he-was-a-celt.

He was very classy - after berating us at length for having killed Boudica, he leant (frankly a little too far) over the counter and said in a portentious voice:
'I know where the beech tree is,
I know where the bee's tree is;
I know where YOUR tree is'.
All with a nice manic glint in his eye. Happy days...

taigathefox said...

Oh, I used to love shouting at people when I worked in the museums, too. One of the few joys of being an evil art historian. [sigh]

belladona said...

P.S - I've held an enormous millipede. Not a centipede obviously - too scary. They feel strange yet lovely. I passed on holding a scorpian, for some reason. I can recommend hissing cockroaches though.
Ok, if I'm honest, I prefer owls.

Are You Mad? said...

it become clear
Tut-tut, it seems Mr Henry's grammar/spelling has deteriorated after being violently assaulted by the young lady in the red T-Shirt...

james henry said...

Oops, well spotted.

'donna, at the end of a long day, we all prefer owls.

patroclus said...

Dammit, when I worked in a museum (actually, a castle), I never shouted at anyone. Missed opportunities, sigh. But we did put arms that had broken off statues up our sleeves and go around shaking hands with unsuspecting people with our cold, dead, stony hands. Does that count?

patroclus said...

P.S. My, that was an inelegant sentence.

james henry said...

Actually I liked the repetition of 'hands'. You were just too chicken to use it a third time...

I'm spotting a high number of current or ex museum workers hanging about here today. I thought it looked tidy.

leonie said...

gaahh! I finally realised who
a) Martin's ho was and
b) who the liberal democrat was who interviewed Alan.
They were of course both in The Office as the people who employed David Brent as an inspirational speaker (or whatever) and lived to regret it.
Who could forget David picking up the vibrator and asking the woman, "is this yours?".
ahh, memories.

I wonder if they only agree to work on a series if the other one is cast as well...?
interesting.


I myself have never worked in a museum and don't intend to.

Squarah said...

I feel so left out - I've only ever worked in Tescos...although yelling at customers in there is equally fulfilling!

frangelita said...

I went round the Oxford University Museum of Natural History on Monday with the sole aims of splitting up couples by walking in between the, and finding shrunken heads. Both were a great success.

Jennifer said...

Don't you just hate it when bouncers don't humour you?

That must be how middle-aged women feel when they ask drunkenly and pleadingly for the doormen to check their ID. Sad state of affairs, that.

woot said...

I used to work in a pub and not only did I get to yell at people allllll the time but I also got them to start fights so I could have 'em chucked out. Ahhhh, great days.

Also held crocodile/ aligator (don't know which) when I was in Egypt, which was scary as it was looking at me in an "I'm gonna bite you the second you stop thinking I'm gonna bite you" sort of way.

Could never work in a museum as I know nothing about new stuff let alone the old and my hair is to untidy...

nanga parbat said...

Maybe they could stone the nasty museum woman with samples from the exhibit, taking care to fulfill the museum's educational mandate at the same time "Granite - igneous - Cumbria" "Ouch!" .That would be so very satisfying.
Also I have v. fond memories from my bookshop days of being able to shout "Don't play on the escalator!" in all the major European languages. Booksellers just don't show that sort of commitment these days.

Maud said...

Ordinarily I'd make a cynical comment about your hair, but it really is marvellous.

Elfgirl said...

It's not shouting as such but I did just raise my voice slightly to someone, admittedly in not so much an authoritive, as a slightly annoyed and grumpy manner. Does that count?

Lettice said...

I once had my handbag searched on the way into the V&A and the guard found my glasses case, opened it and gave me a filthy look. He called his colleague over and they challenged me as to why I was suspiciously carrying an empty glasses case in my bag. I pointed out I was wearing my glasses and they made "huh, you think you're so clever!" gestures and let me in.

Anonymous said...

i was just wondering is there any chance of being able to get a photo of this amazing hair? im now intrigued as to what makes it so brilliant...

james henry said...

Man's Hair Cannot Be Tamed By Any Earthly Camera.

Actually it's not looking so good today - gone a bit curtains.

Minx said...

Truro museum wouldn't throw you out, you're probably their only customer for the week and you could shout, scream and "come in carrying bags" just as much as you want!!

Aimee said...

Ah, foolish vanity. You're just ashamed of having curtains.
I want to see the hair of the bluecat.

love's child said...

This just reminds me of how long its been since I've been in a museum... They're constantly convinced you're going to nick a rock.

I guess there are a lot of crazed rock-stealing people out there.

Lucy said...

aimee, is that you in that picture? I remember you. You were a few people in front of me. Either that or someone that looks just like you posed for a very similar photo with Steve!

*stops spamming James' blog now*

Sorry.

Rose said...

That is possibly the greatest picture ever.

Also, nothing is so much fun as wearing a huge tourist backpack in a Venetian glass museum and watching the official-looking people get more and more nervous.

Aimee said...

Yes it is me. I like to think I'm erring just the right side of cool.
Did you go to the signing then? You may well have seen me. I had my boyfriend with me too, acting as my personal photographer for the day.

Lucy said...

Yeah... I'm pretty sure I remember the photo being taken by a guy. I remember you because it your 'pose' made me smile.

Fat Roland said...

Centipedes are carnivorous? Did I just read that? Shouldn't we be worried?

Just looked it up in a book and that, and apparently they attack lizards.

Lizards!

she said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Het blauwe kat forum is gestorven!

Kalista said...

I was once on an escalator going down to the tube in euston, and a woman in a museum workers uniform picked me up and moved me to one side saying (I kid you not) "we don't stand like that on escalators here dear" It was half 7 fer christs sakes, I was tired from my train journey! I felt very angry and very northern.

Elfgirl said...

Did you also try to put money in the ticket barriers? ;-) I was so happy the first time I went to London on my own because I could actually understand the tube. The buses terrify me though.

BiScUiTs said...

Blimey, how were you standing, and how are you supposed to stand on an escalator? I didn't realise there were rules!!
I had an odd experience at a train station in London where a man asked me how to get into the toilets, there was a turnstile. I showed him how, and then he was challenged by the toilet attendants. it was then I realised it was the ladies.

Kalista said...

Ah no, I didn't make the mistake of trying to put money in the ticket barrier, but my friend did!

Biscuits- I was simply leaning sleepily against the handrail- it wasn't even busy! Not that I'm big on the whole north-south divide thing, but transport is a lot posher down south. In Reading there are little signs at the bus stops telling you when the next bus is. Up here (manchester way) your average bus stop has no seats and some sort of suspicious looking stain on the floor.

Squarah said...

I can assure you that Reading is NOT posh and it's a wonder to us all that those signs haven't been stolen yet!!!

Aimee said...

Reading is horrible. One of the places near me I do my best to avoid. Aldershot coming a close second.
The bus stops are just us Southerners pretending to be posh & (verging on) Lib Dem - to out of towners passing through, Reading appears to give a crap about the environment with its comprehensive public transport system. Its a very elaborate and well thought out lie.

Squarah said...

Aimee - so beautifully said!!

augusta said...

Oh God...I've just had the memory of three years of university in Reading, where the crime was rife and the theft of personal posessions frequent, dredged up like something you hope disappears down the sink forever. I still have nightmares. ...Although the bus service was cracking.

BiScUiTs said...

For some reason a lot of bus stops where I am sort of have a seat but it's so thin it cuts off circulation to the legs. I have to think really hard before I can decide whether it's worth sitting down or not.