Monthly Archives: March 2016

Gebelein Man

One of the oldest pieces in the museum is not stone or porcelain or metal, but an actual human being – someone who walked around and felt the sun on their back nearly 5,500 years ago.

Looking at the desiccated corpse we can see how wonderfully he is preserved;  the skin is like leather, you can see his fingernails, and can even make out the colour of his hair. He’s known as Gebelein man, from the place in Egypt where he was found, but because of his red hair he was nicknamed ‘ginger’. Continue reading

A stroll along the South Bank

Some snaps from a walk past the National Theatre and RFH yesterday afternoon

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty

Review of the production at Woking Theatre in February 2016. Published in Essential Surrey.

Matthew Bourne’s Sleeping Beauty is a breathtaking visual feast from start to finish, an incredibly rich box of delights that oughtn’t to be missed.

Bourne has reimagined Tchaikovsky’s ballet as a dark gothic tale that starts in a fin de siecle royal household of servants and garden parties, and comes right up to date with its final scenes in a neon-lit nightclub. There are new characters and a new narrative structure that allows Bourne to take the old fairy tale and inject humour, wit, elegance and sex, and combine classical ballet with variations inspired by 20th century dance styles. There are even vampires (yes, really). Continue reading

London Postcodes


Postcodes! Now there’s a topic to get the blood racing.

It was sparked by seeing the sign above, with “W14” tagged onto the original street sign.

We can date this to almost 100 years ago, during the first world war, when London sub-divided the previous postal districts (N, E, SW, SE, W and so on) by adding numbers. This from the Postal Museum website:

[They] were introduced to assist women sorters who had largely taken over sorting work from the men who had gone to war and so did not have the knowledge and experience those men had acquired over the years. The sub-districts were each given a serial number. These formed a suffix to the district’s initials and were allocated in sequence. For example the Eastern District Office was E1, Bethnal Green was E2, Bow was E3, and so on.

Lewis Chessmen

Lewis-chessmen08One of the most famous of the early medieval exhibits from the museum is the Lewis chessmen. 93 separate pieces, in a variety of sizes, were discovered in 1831 on the Isle of Lewis, hidden, presumably, by someone who was trading the sets. These 93 are now split between the British Museum and the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

They’re exquisitely carved, with some wonderful details and are made mainly of walrus ivory – from the tusks of the walrus – with a few that are carved whales’ teeth. Continue reading

The London Society


london-soc-logoFormed in 1912, the London Society works to promote discussion about the architecture and the development of London, whether that’s the cost of housing, the proliferation or high rise buildings or the state of the capital’s infrastructure. You can follow what it does on Twitter or Facebook.

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Tang Grave Figures

DSC_0056The Tang dynasty – 618AD to 907AD –  was one of the golden ages of China. We’re often a bit unspecific about the dates of exhibits in the museum – placing things in a century or even a millennium, but we know that these figures date to 728AD.

They are tomb figures for a general called Liu Tingxan whose funeral was in that year. This type of tomb figure was widely used among high-status individuals from about 700AD. They’re glazed earthenware in a style known as ‘sancai’, which means three colours: white, green and amber/red (they also did blue and black, but let’s not disappear down that rabbit hole).

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