Dungeons & Dragons*

Posted: May 28, 2011 in Photography
Tags: , , , , ,

* prior to their classification as ‘dinosaurs’ in 1842.

I can’t remember if he was ill or just wanted the extra hour in bed, but John had – by this point – given up on coming down to breakfast with me. Returning from one such instance of being that sad loner with no one to eat with, I noticed it was raining pretty heavily, which provided the perfect excuse to finally break out my ironic London hat. “Shoyne ya shooz, guvnah?” By the time Thursday rolled round, we still had one destination left on our super-tourist-multipasses, and headed out to the London Dungeon. Of no assistance whatsoever: the scalpers just outside the tube station, who – once they found out we already had tickets – ditched us before we could even ask directions. Regardless, we soon found our way inside, and – better still – discovered that the combination of crappy weather and visiting on a weekday meant that there were no queues to speak of. These days, the Dungeon is a much more actor-led experience; my last memory of one of these places being in Blackpool when I was six years old. (I begged my mum to take us in and cried so hard we had to leave.) Twenty years later, it was a little easier to hold my nerve – especially when I had John beside me commenting on the inaccuracy of their surgical procedures. (He was also too tall for the Sweeney Todd barber chairs and didn’t understand why everyone else had jumped when they experienced a close shave with Sweeney’s razor). Our gallow-humoured guides took us all the way from medieval torture (where they picked a French woman to demonstrate who turned out not to speak a word of English) to an 18th century courtroom, where I was one of the unlucky few chosen to stand trial. (I was found guilty as soon as they found out I was Scottish, haha.) Far more amusing, however, was the girl standing trial for witchcraft: Prosecution: You created a man to cavort with and a great pink poof appeared… [pointing to John] …and there he is! Nothing, however, could beat the “Drop Ride to Doom”: a gallows-themed thrill ride in the vein of Disney’s Tower of Terror. Not least because it spawned this:

In our 8 years together, this is clearly the best picture of us ever taken.

After escaping the Dungeon, we braved the downpour and made it out to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington. (There wasn’t an entrance fee for this one, but they were trying to charge £5 per bagel in the café.) I think I might have mentioned this at some point before, but I actually went through a huge dinosaur phase as a child. (I swear I was a boy once upon a time.) My favourite toy was an action figure of Ellie Sattler from Jurassic Park. …I suppose that cancels out my previous statement.

YOU’LL NEED ALL THE AMMO YOU CAN FIND. THE RAPTORS IN THE MAIN HALL HAVE A BONE TO PICK WITH YOU.

…I’m suddenly filled with an uncontrollable to desire to watch Jurassic Park again. (I know what I’m doing the minute I’ve posted this entry!) Thankfully John is also a huge dinosaur geek so I didn’t feel like a complete loser. Tangent: I watched The Land Before Time again recently, along with An American Tail and All Dogs Go to Heaven. I now realise Don Bluth was responsible for the most depressing moments of my childhood. The trauma does, however, provide unintentional levity with the added memory of me telling my mum – at six years old – that she sounded exactly like Diana Ross as she sang along to the end credits. My mum is a horrible singer. Buying ten kids’ movies in one day is, however, a solid case for why I shouldn’t be allowed outside with a bank card when I’m feeling nostalgic. Or at all, really. (Among them: WALL-E, which I hadn’t seen since that one Golden Week where Joy and I discovered that everyone else had left the country so spent the entire week in my apartment watching movies. ♥) Having said that…

…I can’t believe I didn’t own this movie until a few months ago! となりのトっトロっ、トっト~ロ♪

Returning to the tale at hand: we soon discovered that the Natural History Museum also has a fully-functional animatronic T-rex! The fact that he terrorised every child who walked through the area only made me love him more. Aaaand onto the mammals. I’ve included this one purely for the purpose of a public service announcement: namely, that lemmings do not commit suicide en masse. It’s an urban legend perpetuated by Disney, who – in their 1958 movie, White Wilderness – launched them off a cliff using a turntable. Someone should really revoke that Oscar.

RED PANDA! ♥♥♥ My favourite animal in the world…second only to Alf.

I kept this picture purely because the expression on that little ginger boys face as he tries to drag his friend out of the shot cracks me up.

Giant Irish Deer – a victim of the Ice Age. This picture actually doesn’t do justice to how singularly enormous this fossil was. Ditto his friend, the prehistoric armadillo.

Pumbaa! Another of my childhood phases: warthogs. No, seriously. I even subscribed to a warthog newsletter.

Frill-necked lizard! Coincidentally, my favourite dinosaur in Jurassic Park was the Dilophosaurus. I even had a toy Dilophosaurus that spat water instead of venom.

Where’s John?

The Central Hall, this time from above.

In 2009, the statue of Charles Darwin on the main staircase replaced that of (creationist) Richard Owen, whose own statue – in spite of him being the driving force behind the establishment of the Natural History Museum itself – has since been relegated to the balcony. Naturally we couldn’t leave without getting a picture with the father of non-fiction evolution. (Owen, by the way, is also the man who gave us the word “dinosaur” – meaning “terrible lizard”.) The section of trunk at the very top there is from a giant sequoia (or Sierran redwood): the largest living thing in the world. This particular tree was over 1,300 years old when it was felled.

Our friend in the middle here, by the way, is a diplodocus.

I took a similar picture taken on Jane Badler.

We stayed right up until closing. Nerd alert!

That night: katsudon and edamame at 夢の木 (Yumenoki: “The Dream Tree”)! I always forget how much I miss Japanese food…despite the fact that I eat it on a near-weekly basis. Encouraged by the fact that they actually had Japanese staff on hand (very rarely the case here in Glasgow), I was a little disappointed to learn that they still didn’t do okonomiyaki. That disappointment was soon forgotten, however, with the discovery of: SAKURA MOCHI! There are no words to express my joy at finding this on the menu. I was once interviewed for a newspaper in Akita, and listed this as my favourite Japanese food. (Bottom left)

Soma‘s doing pretty well for herself in the global lifestyle salon and spa market.

After dinner, we went to the cinema to see Rabbit Hole: where, by freakish coincidence, we ran into the very same guy who’d mistaken John for a rentboy two days earlier. As an aside, the process of finding the nearest cinema gave me a legitimate excuse to use my Blackberry maps for the first time, which a) worked amazingly, and b) made up for the phone’s failure to load the Tube Map app until the day we left London. The film itself (based on the David Lindsay-Abaire play about two grieving parents) was slow-paced but good, and filled with moments on in-spite-of-itself humour. It wasn’t quite what I’d expected from a John Cameron Mitchell project (the man who gave us Hedwig and Shortbus), but not nearly as bad as the two people who walked out of the cinema twenty minutes in would have you believe. Which, now that I think about it, is the second time that’s happened to me during a JCM movie.

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