Wednesday, 1 September 2010
Penny for your thoughts
I was in Oxford over the weekend and took the Banshee on a tour of the Bodleian Library. Top tip: tell any young person that Harry Potter was filmed here and they'll be immediately attentive and enthusiastic.
This ruse has worked - with some little success - at The Lawnmower Museum, The Pencil Museum and The Dog Collar Museum - amongst others.
C'mon, you must remember the enchanted lawnmower that Harry, Ron and Hermione use to escape from Voldemort? It's in Harry Potter and Overgrown Lawn.
Banshee (PUZZLED): I don't remember that one ...
Me (AIRILY): O, I read it to you when you were very small.
Banshee: What happens?
Me: Um, the usual stuff ... Plus! There are giant, evil dandelions, some poisonous daisies and an invasion of couch grass, but Sirius posts a Black'n'Decker Strimmer to Hogwarts which doubles - the Strimmer, not Hogwarts - as a, um, Blunderbus 2000 broomstick and -
Banshee: You're making all off this up, aren't you?
I love museums (almost as much as I love libraries). This love was established from an early age as wet half terms and holidays saw me marched around the Kirkstall Abbey Museum.
Before it was refurbished (A.K.A. ruined) one could put a Bun Penny into a Victorian 'penny slot' machine and see Madame Le Guillotine do her bloodiest worst; watch a pretty housemaid fall out of a wardrobe shot through the heart; follow the trial of a murderer up to the point where he is hanged by the neck until dead - and more. Clockwork puppets in fabulous 2D with juddery animation and a very moral message. (Never hide in a wardrobe when an angry husband's brandishing a gun.)
It was a perfectly thrilling place to visit and one could endure the endless display cabinets of Scrimshaw work and edifying embroidered samplers with the promise of a penny for Being Good.
Museums for the Young are not nearly so much fun these days. Small people pretend to be a poo and waddle through a labyrinth of intestines, or dress up in 100% polyester Tudor clothing, or press a lot of buttons. It's all about being interactive.
Curators! There is nothing wrong at all with pressing ones nose against a display cabinet and just looking. Why, it never did me any harm ...