Tits and Bums

Currently wondering if Londoners have cellulite, and if they do, how? I was in the city on Thursday and my legs and hips are still yowling about it. It’s weird how even a bumpkin like me falls quickly into lockstep with the urbanites. One minute I’m a scrub-faced dairymaid type with big tits and an encylopaedic knowledge of the diseases of brassicas and the next minute I’m hoofing it at a terrifying pace down the subway fromSouth Kensingtontube. I suppose I have the excuse of having lived inLondonin the previous century but it’s very odd how fast one picks up the pace.

Spent the morning bimbling about theNaturalHistoryMuseum, which was heaving with various school parties of small children. They come for the dinosaurs, naturally, and it’s nice to see in today’s silly fucky if-you’ve-got-the-money-you-can-teach-them-what-you-like climate. Unfortunately there are reasonable odds that a lot of these noisy sproglodytes are going back to schools where they’re told that dinosaurs existed once upon a time – until God killed them all in the flood. And they sank to the bottom of the fossil record because they were heavier than mammals. (I’ve actually heard this one. Creationism means never having to say ‘I’m kidding’.)

I think the NHM should just nail its colours to the mast with a slightly more in-your-face human evolution section. I would suggest a big fuck-off tacky as shit neon sign on the stairs with a big arrow pointing to Charles Darwin. And it should flash on and off and say HE WAS RIGHT. DEAL WITH IT.

Similarly they need to give it a bit more welly upstairs. I mean, I’m impressed by the casts of Lucy and the Turkana Boy but I wasn’t raised by flaming fucking pants-on-fire bullshitters.

So. Something more along the lines of –

YOU’RE A PRIMATE – GET THE FUCK OVER YOURSELF.

The reason we were in London was because we had tickets to the Leonardo exhibition at the National Gallery. So we tubed our way toWestminsterto indulge my Pugin fetish en-route and schlepped alongWhitehall. Didn’t follow Man’s suggestion of running at the gates ofDowning Streetwhile screaming because I couldn’t see that ending well. He was surprised to realise there were so many landmarks in one place, whereas I was jaded having once been halfway educated somewhere up theStrand. (KCL – wash your mind out with soap and water.)

There was a man outside the gallery doing the robot about as well as Fry from Futurama. There was also a young man named Tom who was attempting to ride a giant unicycle while passing his entire body through a busted tennis racket. And he did. We gave Tom some money, told him he was great and went in to look at paintings, whereupon I realised the difference between myself as an undergraduate and myself as a slouching-towards-middle-age idiot. Once I would have hung around studiously attempting to absorb culture by osmosis and probably said something profound in the general direction of whoever I was trying to fuck at the time.

Now I just stand in front of Velasquez’ Rokeby Venus and say “That’s a seriously nice arse.” (Actually, after the fact, but wasn’t that painting heavily vandalised by a nutter? They’ve done an amazing restoration job if it was.)

A lot of those heroic/religious paintings tire the tits off me, I must say. After a while, the National Gallery blurs into a series of melancholy Madonnas and tit-and-arse heavy Judgements of Paris, interspersed with the occasional bum-centric Rape of Ganymede and that lovely Franz Hals painting of the boy with a skull. Unless you seek out the smaller rooms where the FlemishSchoolpaintings are housed it’s pretty much Madonnas and Venuses until the 19th Century, where you finally get a taste of how radical Monet’s now hopelessly cosy Giverny paintings were at the time. And how refreshing. Not an unconvincing pair of titties in sight.

The much-talked about Leonardo exhibition was about as impressive as you’d expect, although I’m not sure the National Gallery’s original plan came off. The idea was that ticketholders would go in every half hour in groups of about 180 people, but I think they were pretty much letting people in when the fuck ever, so it was extremely cramped. And I really don’t think much of the decision to hold the thing in the basement of the Sainsbury Wing. The continuation of the exhibition on the main level was far less painful – bigger rooms and less desire to kill people.

But the paintings. What can you really say about Leonardo Da Vinci that hasn’t already been said? Perhaps the most interesting exhibit was a newly attributed Leonardo, Salvator Mundi, a weird sfumato-heavy portrait of Christ holding an orb of rock crystal. I don’t know why and I can’t shake the feeling, but I can’t help thinking it might be a self-portrait. Leonardo Da Vinci is one of those people who has been heavily caricatured in history, mainly because the only certain self portrait shows him as an elderly man with a flowing white beard. Naturally he wasn’t born a beardy old tinkerer, just asVictoriawasn’t born a tubby widow in a lace cap – Leonardo was once young and extremely handsome, a flamboyant polymath who gave very few fucks. If anyone had the sheer brass nads to paint himself as Christ then it was Leo. This was not a man who feared God in the neurotic, medieval sense, or even in the differently-but-equally neurotic Reformation sense.

It was also pretty special to see the two Madonnas together – The Virgin of the Rocks and The Madonna of the Rocks, on loan from the Louvre. The latter was encased in bullet proof glass, perhaps in order to keep Dan Brown fans away from it. There was talk that the National had entered tentative negotiations with the Louvre to borrow their other Leonardo, but apparently they broke down in mocking laughter and the French response ended in the word ‘yourself’.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s