legs like chinese drain pipes

If, by any chance, you have called by in the last few days and wondered why I had gone all quiet on you (has she been bested by technology? Has she been flattened by a larger than usual piece of furniture?  Has she been finished off by a killer bee?) you may be interested to know that none of your worst fears lay behind the silence.  I have been in London with OV who was on duty at Westminster Abbey.  This is an annual opportunity for OV to pace the ancient cloisters and meet people from all around the world and for myself (plus OV at times) to catch up with the galleries and, on occasion, ‘do’ a show.
This year’s exhibitions included the Millais at Tate Britain, Antiquities at the Royal Acadamy and The Terracotta Warriers at the British Museum. Now, any of you who have wandered the streets of London will know that there is a particular quality to the paving stones thereof which, when combined with rapid walking between venues (hopping on and off the occasional bus) wearing the wrong clothes (too hot indoors, too cold out) and negotiating more steps than usually encountered in a month, leads to a curious condition that I call London Legs.  This ailment, together with Burning Foot-ball somewhat blights the otherwise delightful ‘week in Westminster’.  The foot condition is partly OV’s fault, as he is the fastest walker in the nation and literally runs me off my feet as I plead for mercy. (By the end of the week I produce my daily bus pass and, muttering things like ‘must get full value from this’, am ‘posted’ onto a bus home – to our cloister flat – somewhat like a parcel.)
However, back to the title of this post.  Imagine my delight in the Chinese exhibition as, standing before a case explaining how the soldiers were constructed, I read the following: ‘The technology used to construct the legs was based on that used for making drainpipes’. And there, in the case, was a section of 2000+ year old drainpipe and a half-constructed leg.  The ‘drawing’ sensation in my own legs – the result of fast walking and slow exhibition viewing, had, by then, reached a point where I felt as if they had doubled in circumference below the knee and that their weight had trebled.  I stood looking at the drainpipe (which was very chunky – think elephant’s foot) and light dawned.  Two steps to the right and I could have joined the terracotta army and NO-ONE WOULD HAVE NOTICED!
Small wonder their legs were so thick – they’ve been standing on them for over 2000 years!
The other exhibitions mentioned: Millais – superb (even though I was dogged by a little old lady who would keep walking in front of everyone and, almost pressing her nose on each painting, obscured the view for a dozen people around her – quite oblivious to the fact of course. Grrr.)
I still love the Pre-Raphaelite colours the best – Hookers green is amazing set against rich purple.
Hockney on Turner (also at Tate Britain) was wonderful (and free) and I spent a happy hour there sketching and making notes. The ‘line and light’ section was extremely informative and I shed the years there and had a go at one of the children’s activities!
The history exhibition at the RA was very interesting and explained why some artists (eg Turner) had made such detailed drawings of the insides of cathedrals – commissioned of course, as a historical record, before the advent of photography.
And the Terracotta Warriers – yes, go and see them.  Stand and stare  into their faces and allow the wonderful calm of the ages come upon you. Oh, and don’t miss the bronze birds – particularly the stork, which looks as if it caught its fish two minutes ago.
Before I go – for those of you who asked – I went to see the ‘crack’ at Tate Britain. I came. I saw. I went and had a cup of tea. Enough said.
Back to the domestic tidy up…. where has OV left his stole?

About apthomas

I love books, reading, writing, baking, chocolate, painting, sewing, people and fairtrade - not necessarily in that order. I am a lazy gardener - who loves the garden, and a lazy housewife who likes the place to be warm and welcoming. I live in beautiful Somerset. I am enslaved by Sherpa-the-cat. Saturday mornings find me 'playing shop' in the Honey Pot - a second hand bookshop, run from my garage, where along with the books you'll find fun, friendship and refreshments - all in a good cause.
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3 Responses to legs like chinese drain pipes

  1. Nancy.B.T.MA says:

     There should also have been information offered on the Terracotta Warriors about their individuality  (faces, costuming, height, stance, even varying ethnicities etc.)  They are amazing.   My one visit to the Tate Britain was painful!  The visit came at the end of about ten days of travel – lots of walking and standing – and my joints had already complained days before.  In the first place, it’s not easy to get to if you’re having mobility problems.  Leaving the other Tate, we decided against going by river – too late in the day, plus didn’t want to deal with getting down to the launch or back up again on the other side – so we splurged on a taxi.  The taxi could not get us close at all – had to leave us off several blocks away.  Then, at the end of the day we tried to decide which station was closest – and made the wrong choice.  The other choice would have actually put us at a stop for a bus that would have let us out right at our friends’ house.   Sorry for the long detour – but it explains why I’m not too keen on the Tate Britain.   One memory – a sign on the inside of the door to the ladies restroom:   "Tate relies on benefactors.  The paper in this facility has been donated by an anonymous donor." 

  2. Colin says:

    You have a friend now, Mum. How does it feel?

  3. Anne says:

    Ah Nancy, how things conspire and work against us sometimes!  I’m sorry you had such a bad experience.   Actually the access to the river transport is a gentle ramp with choice of ramp/steps near the bottom. The front (riverview) entrance involves a lot of steps, but walk down the side street to the left (as you look at the building) and you can approach it from the side – which has all the modern disabled accessibility adjustments you could wish for – that’s the end that they always hold the pay-for exhibitions – in the newer part of the building.
    As for the individuality of the warriers – yes, I agree. I wonder whether the ethnicity variety reflected the make-up of the men who made them – many were prisoners and, even then, came from a huge geographical area.  It is strange to think that many of the men who worked on them laboured in chains. Perhaps that accounts for some of the expressions of sad resignation.  OVW

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