The Way Things Used to Be

Yesterday was a trip to one of my favourite places of all- the British Museum. We saw a variety of ancient Middle-Eastern and European treasures while we were there. I saw some of my favourites, the Parthenon frieze, which has such amazing carving that you feel the figures are almost alive even after all these years. Nothing else, in my view, captures that living essence so well, not even anything I’ve seen made in my time. Then there are the Sphinx-like creatures from ancient Babylon, which still amaze me with their size, and all the Egyptian treasures. One thing I saw for the first time was the finds from Sutton Who, an ancient Anglo-Saxon burial site with amazing carved belt-buckles that craftsmen today say they couldn’t reproduce. No-one knows who was buried there (no pun intended), but he must have been pretty rich or important, as they included lots of gold coins and even a boat, all of which would have come in pretty handy for the afterlife. It seems like a pretty superstitious custom now, but thanks to it we have all these wonderful remains to admire- which I suppose is a kind of afterlife for them.

An exhibition me and my mum really loved was one on Japanese arts being made today. It seems a bit silly to be seeing it here when I have so many chances there, but the layout and atmosphere was just perfect for them and they are amazing. The dishes and kimonos were about as good as they get, with incredible colours from the glazes used. Seeing videos of how the things were made also helped bring it to life, and you can see that despite being so abstract, the artists feel that their own emotions are being expressed there. Some of the techniques were being used for the first time in centuries, and they felt a strong connection with the past through this.

Seeing how progress is an intermittent thing and not necessarily linear made me think how time is really just an illusion that we think is going forward. In fact, aspects of the past and future can affect the present when you least expect it, if not always in events, at least in your way of thinking. It is great to have these treasuries to browse around in, but what will be even better is when we have some form of time-travel, where you can go and watch events unfold- now that will be educational (though perhaps a little shocking, too!)

We finished up by having some dinner in a nice little Jewish fish restaurant (kind of) near the museum. I say kind of as we ended up dashing through the rain to find it, quite a few streets away. The waitress was lovely and the food was just perfect, as fish and chips is something I have been missing, as always. We finished with some apple crumble and ice-cream, which is something I haven’t had for years. It is nice that some things stay the same.

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