Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Getting Irate So That You Don't Have To

Thursday, 14 February 2008

The Mummy Of All Historical Exhibitions

Womble On Tour (and family) had a visit to Civilisation (otherwise known as London) yesterday.

After a flight on the London Eye, we went to the O2 Arena at Greenwich to take in the Tutankhamun Exhibition.

Let me nail my colours to the mast here. Despite my A-level in History, I am no expert in anything that's happened in the past other than the 1988 FA Cup final, about which I could write a thesis. Apart from, perhaps, the two world wars, history doe-sn't even especially interest me. And I'm no fan of museums or exhibitions either. I find my feet start to ache within five minutes of entry into any room displaying anything even remotely resembling a showcase. I was dragged along to the Tutankhamun Exhibition last time it was in London, over 30 years ago. I distinctly remember being singularly unimpressed.

But even I, Philistine and cultural imbecile that I am, could not fail to have been moved by what I saw yesterday. One exhibit after another, a wondrous monument to a young man who ruled an entire nation as a teenager, almost every one of them in impeccable condition, and all over them over 3,000 years old. One can only guess at the effort and resource it must have cost his subjects to have built the magnificent monuments created in his name, and one can't even begin to imagine the emotions of the English archaeologist Howard Carter as he stumbled across the ancient tomb in 1922.

Anyone who has a chance to visit this exhibition before it closes on 30th August should go. If there is a better opportunity in England to connect to events that happened over 30 centuries ago then I haven't seen it. Grab it, while it's here.

By the way, the O2 Arena is a fine example of the private sector making good a public sector fiasco. Free market-inspired investment has turned a national laughing stock into an exciting, vibrant and varied visitor attraction. There was a great deal going on quite apart from this Exhibition, and what was once a white elephant now clearly has a future. A good day all round.

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