Papa Bouiloire Goes to London
My dear friends,
Despite my attachment to Oxford, my Esteemed Colleage had encouraged me repeatedly to go for one day to London. I had already been put off the capital after reading about its horrors described so clearly by Jane Austen and other reliable 18th century authors, so it was with reluctance therefore I bit the bullet and boarded the bright red double deckered “Oxford Tube” bus and ventured forth into the great capital.
Armed with a copy of “Top Ten London”, I studied the maps with trepidation, overwhelmed by the labyrinth of streets and fears about itinerant whelk sellers. Suddenly there was traffic all about, the sky turned grey and I was ejected at Marble Arch into a sea of pedestrians. Desperately noting every landmark so that I could find my way back again to the bus I fled directly to that bastion of calm and respectability, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and never left it until it was time to catch the bus home to Oxford again.
I began by carefully examining each precious object in the roman and medieval section, and marvelled at the ivory, silver and gold which filled the cabinets. As I moved through the museum I suddenly realised that the place was absolutely vast and by the end I was almost running through the rooms just to get a glimpse of all the treasures on display. I was horrified to find a section where they house vast quantities of priceless pottery and porcelain in room after room of immensely tall glass cabinets where the precious examples of every type of ceramic produced are stacked liked an old maiden aunt’s Welsh Dresser.
Even I could not cope with such a surfeit of crockery and had to leave in a state of nervous exhaustion contemplating the possible loss of heritage should an earthquake ever strike London.
The jewellery collection was just as overwhelming, with cabinet after cabinet of the most splendid jewels. I was hypnotised by a huge bodice ornament so encrusted with hundreds of huge diamonds that it almost blinded one. The place went on and on and I hardly had a moment to glimpse the Art Nouveau treasures before I had to get back to the coach lest I was to find myself amongst the cut-purses and doxys which prowl this ominous city at night according to Smollett and other reliable sources.
Footworn and mentally exhausted, I eschewed the gaudy temptations of Harrods and trudged back to Marble Arch through Hyde Park and caught the bus home. My Esteemed Colleague had already eaten by the time I got back and so I bought 2 nourishing cheese rolls and a litre of juice from Sainsburys which I enjoyed alone in my cosy Garrett, vowing never to return to that den of vice and iniquity.
Thus ended another profitable day in the Oxford life of your most humble servant,
NEXT: Chapter the Forteenth, in which I accumulate more priceless treasures at the Oxford Antique Fair.
If you enjoyed this adventure you can find all of Papa Bouilloire’s travels in Oxford and its surround by clicking HERE