Pompeii and Herculaneum

At the British Museum

Warning: As I write this, a couple of lines from Funky Cold Medina keep reoccurring in my thoroughly disjointed brain, specifically the lyrics about the dog doing the wild thing on his leg, so please forgive me if I occasionally go off track.

Before I do though, let me take you back two weeks in time, when dressed for a summery day which didn’t materialise, one catfish and her family headed down to London town.  First stop the British Museum.

What a super venue – not just for being blown away by the architectural impressive exterior and interior – but also to wander through Mummy gazing, Sutton Hoo object spying, huge marble and stone admiring and one of my personal favourite pastimes – Museum Shop shopping.

This visit however was all about Pompeii (and Herculaneum), though honestly I wasn’t aware of the in brackets mentioned until I arrived.  So yes, my learn curve was very steep on this particular occasion.

Luckily the information you soak-up as you walk, watch and read inside the exhibition is pitched to the right level, it’s not only interesting but clearly provides you with great take home facts, the kind you can let slip (very subtly) into conversation, over a coffee maybe, when you realise your friends haven’t thought you were bright for a while.

Additionally, the layout of the exhibition is thoughtfully planned and based on the Tragic Poet’s house. However before you make it in there are two areas/pieces I’d like to draw your attention to. First up, and just as you enter, a cast of a dog – unfortunately distorted in pain – though a pretty powerful way to impress upon the visitor the brutality inflicted by the erupting volcano. And secondly, I was naturally drawn to the ‘Street’ corner just outside the Tragic Poet’s home featuring ‘Tavern Life’ – and became quite fond of a fresco depicting two people kissing.

Now to the Atrium, where I took a fancy to an exquisite mosaic portrait of a woman and discovered in the Familia section that ‘The lady of the house is at the centre of things’. Nice.

We also managed to find some respite away from the children on a school excursion in the Cubiculum (bedroom), a place I dashed to the moment I heard their teacher stating “you can’t go in there”. Yes I still possess the juvenile tendency to go against authority – so rushed in to discover some artworks illustrating a little nudity and little bit of grown up behaviour.  Poor kids, how were they really going to come to grips with learning about the Romans if they weren’t allowed to appreciate that they were society not adverse to spreading their love…

We headed then into the Hortus, where you shan’t be let down if you love marble statutes. Further too, you might also find yourself lingering for a couple moments in the side room where I spotted an interesting sculpture of Pan sharing his physical feelings with a Goat.

Then I headed to the Living Room – maybe you could too – where you’ll find a mosaic of a skeleton which appears to have escaped from the pages of an Allan Alhberg book, Funny Bones to be precise. And in the Dining Area look for the notice (and chuckle), found on one the walls of someone’s home after excavation stating, ‘Don’t dirty the couch covers, keep your eyes off other people’s partners and take your quarrels home with you’.

I hope that’s a sufficient taster…it  runs until 29 September 2013.


by Andrew Miller

Looking for a super satisfying read? Well here’s one to consider.

Really?… Why?

It’s plot driven and grips you from Chapter One.

And…Jean-Baptiste, (I’ll refer to him by his first name, as I feel I know him quite well now), is the protagonist and carries out his duty superbly.

He’s a chap taking on the difficult role of Project Manager – responsible for clearing a cemetery and church in central Paris, a couple of years prior to the French Revolution. Not nice, obviously, especially when he is confronted by direct opposition from within the house he lays his head.

Additionally, he’s a complex fellow, not one of those ‘crazy fun guys’, rather serious and unconventional, who’s grateful for his education and former training and desirous (initially at least), on making a sound impression professionally – with the latter, placed constantly under assault.

As you gobble down the pages, you’ll meet a fair variety of characters – no two the same. To illustrate:

  • a 14 year old granddaughter of a sexton , with an excellent work ethic
  • an organ-playing chap whom shares friendly relations with his landlady
  • lots of Flemish grave-clearers who were formerly miners
  • a tough mouthpiece for the Minister
  • a maid who has a peep-hole in her floor
  • a tailor who’s so good at his job that he can sell a pistachio suit to someone who’s had too much drink
  • a shopkeeper who comes close to being taken down by a key

Furthermore dear reader, explore this novel and prepare yourself to experience.  For Mr Miller definitely places you in the action. He masterly fills your nostrils with the stench of the quarter (not nice again); makes you shiver in the cold; perspire in the heat; acquaint yourself with hardcore pity; and read past your bedtime.

It’s truly a good read.