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Mr and Mrs Cook, November 2015.

London

A lot has changed since we last visited London, the wealth of the richest has doubled, the Government has allowed homelessness to rise 47% since 2010, allowed £70Bn of bank tax evasions while chasing the poorest members of society for £1Bn of benefit fraud and has now sold us out to our new Chinese overlords.  It feels like a world apart, walking past London hotels with a Rolls Royce waiting to ferry the privileged elitist establishment so they can pay £13M for a flat.  We can’t afford the cheapest 1 bedroom at £250K.  So it strikes me as somewhat coincidental that the three most powerful men in Britain, all went to the same exclusive school, all were in the same exclusive drinking club and all are exclusively rich and running the country.  All in it together?  And you trust them to represent your views…democracy in action, you lot voted them in again….  No wonder we see junior Doctors striking.  It’s time to visit London and make a stand. Or maybe have a look around.

Mr and Mrs Cook, November 2015.
Mr and Mrs Cook, November 2015.

We’re stood outside Parliament on November the 4th, the day that Guy Fawkes was discovered in 1605 for his part in the gunpowder treason plot.  With my track record of the Police knocking down the door on my threat to steal the Olympic flame, I’d best be careful.  There’s police buzzing everywhere, especially as we move towards Trafalgar Square, they’re preparing for the Million Mask March.  We’ve had a pricey but great week in the big smoke, we’ll be back. Exploits below…

 

First up is the British Museum (£ Free), mainly because its round the corner from the hotel and London is full of museums. Another chance to geek out over “old stuff.” More swords, more skeletons, more relics, more rocks.  Greeted inside by giant skeletons, these were Day of the Dead Festival skeleton puppets from the James Bond film SPECTRE. Which is fine by me, because I’m often mistaken for James Bond…cue music and the gun barrel scene…introducing Nick Cook as James Bond…

The Sutton Hoo helmet.
The Sutton Hoo helmet.

Further inside, the Rosetta Stone, didn’t understand a word of it, full of hieroglyphs, might as well have been written in Greek for all I know… Delving deeper we come across relics and antiquities of Egypt.  The good thing about having a once all-conquering empire is that you just steal somebody else’s stuff and send it back home.  After all, London is already home to a bunch of thieves, the Houses of Parliament, the House of Lords, The Met, The Royal Family.  Then we come on to the magnificent Sutton Hoo helmet, an extra ordinary Anglo-Saxon artefact found in a ship burial chamber from the early 7th century.  This place is huge.  You could get lost but at least you’d be entertained.

Giant Day of the Dead Festival puppets from the James Bond Film SPECTRE.
Giant Day of the Dead Festival puppets from the James Bond film SPECTRE.

 

Tuesday November the 3rd takes us to the Science Museum and a chance for me to really geek out at the stunning Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age exhibition.  Sam knows this is the reason I’ve marched her half way across London for, knackered knee or not.  The Russians were the pioneers of space travel, launching the first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, the first animals and the first man in space, the first woman in space and the first spacewalk.  The Cosmonauts exhibition is billed as once in a lifetime and it is truly an outstanding collection of 150 Russian spacecraft and artefacts to visit the UK.  You can read more about our visit here.

Russian LK-3 Lunar Lander on display at the Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age exhibition
Russian LK-3 Lunar Lander on display at the Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age exhibition

 

Next up on our London tour is Westminster Abbey (£20) where there are more dead Kings and Queens buried here than you can stumble over, well 17 anyway.  The place stinks of skeletons.  Guess what, there’s also no photography allowed either, no doubt the church wants you to pay all your worldly possessions to the gift shop for a souvenir photo. Again I tried some shaky phone footage. Inside is regal, resplendent and it’s not hard to see where all your medieval peasant money went when you passed it to the God squad.

There’s a 1000 years of history here.  William the Conqueror, or that French Norman bastard coming over here and conquering our lands as he’s sometimes known as, was crowned at Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day on 1066, so was his 22nd great-granddaughter, she’s called Queen Elizabeth II and lives down the road at Buckingham Palace. Many more of the land grabbing thieving gits have been crowned and wedded at Westminster Abbey since, some even televised.  The Coronation Chair, minus the Stone of Scone is also on view, all that money and they don’t even pay for a cushion to sit on.

 

On Wednesday, we visited the Tower of London (£24.50).  Murder mayhem and millions of kids. And murdered kids eh King Richard?… Imposing is the word I would use.  Its also exactly the type of thing I would build after I’d conquered a country.  It was resented as a symbol of oppression, especially if you were getting your head cut off or hung, drawn and quartered.  Tales of murder, beheadings and execution in the aptly named Bloody Tower are brought to you by one of the Beefeaters, the Yeoman Warders, as they delight in telling you about botched attempts at lopping heads off and where Ann Boleyn’s body is buried.  If you wonder where the entrance fee went, then go and look at the Crown Jewels, your money went on the Queen Lizzie’s bling.  At least you’re at the tower for a god few hours, or a good few years if you were a prisoner.  People are still being murdered today, except these days the Government kills its undesirables under the term”austerity.”

So while we are at the Tower of London, we get to see the Agincourt 600 exhibition displayed on the top floor in The White Tower. Disappointingly, after having just paid £24.50 each for the Tower of London entrance fee, you’re not allowed to photograph anything on display at the Agincourt 600 exhibition, this theme is becoming familiar.  Sunday the 25th October 2015 marked the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt (St Crispin’s Day, Friday, 25 October 1415), probably the most famous medieval battle in British history and if push came to shove, my specialist subject area on Mastermind. Something quite enduring about Henry V, his army being outnumbered, his St Crispin’s Day speech, the apparent readiness of peasant archers setting to work with bows and bollock daggers to slaughter the French and lots of their royalty.

Battle of Agincourt 600th Anniversary Exhibition at the Tower of London
Battle of Agincourt 600th Anniversary Exhibition at the Tower of London

Organised by the Royal Armouries, it’s’ a fine display of objects relating to the battle, including manuscripts, the actual French battle plan, not that it worked out for them on the day, arms, armour and a detailed scale model of the battlefield. When viewing this, you get the sound of thousands of arrows flying through the air to deadly delivery and look up to see a stylised representation of this.  Objects on display include the stunning pig faced Lyle Basinet, this is normally on display at the fantastic Leeds Royal Armouries, arrows recovered from the Mary Rose, the Warwick Shaffron (head armour for a horse) and many other fine artefacts.  You can find out more about the Battle of Agincourt 600th anniversary exhibition here.

 

The view from our room at the Russell Hotel
The view from our room at the Russell Hotel

Nick Cook

Amateur astronomer, space, history, nerd, extreme dog walker, cat slave, doorstep daytripper, severe tinnitus sufferer. 13.7 billion years in the making - not that much better for it. Knows more about swords than is probably healthy for a man.

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