Dorothy’s Red Shoes

Sunday 4 November 2012

After a late night again, it was not easy to get out of bed but we had to. If we were to go to Victoria & Albert Museum and have a chance of getting in to the exhibitions right away, instead of waiting for hours in the souvenir shop, then we had to drag ourselves out. Tomorrow is not an option since that is when they change the guards, only doing it every other day. We rushed off to South Kensington after discovering that the open-till-midnight-Boots in Bayswater, doesn’t open till noon on Sundays. Starting the day without breakfast was not fun, so I was happy when we found a fast food bakery down in the tube at South Kensington. I happily bought these grilled sandwhiches for myself and my daughter and happily munched away on mine, refusing to look at my daughter’s disgusted face. This was not in her liking either!

This morning the tunnel to the museums was open which was a gold lining to the cloud of having to go back, and we got to the tunnel entrance to the museum, well ahead of opening time.  I walked and stood by the door together with “Cookie”, that was taking ant bites out of her sandwich. A mother with two very small children stood there as well and I wondered why she had brought them since they were clearly too young to appreciate anything in this museum, but I guess she wanted to see something and had no baby sitter. Know how that goes! She will get out of there disappointed though. One always does! At 9:59, I told “Cookie” to race to the ticket counter and that I would be right behind her. Not easy to find the ticket counter though, since the tunnel entrance is at the back of the museum and then there are two more entrances, closer to the ticket counter, so we did not get first in to the queue. But we only had a couple of people in front of us, so we could breathe easy after the long run, and we got tickets for 10:15, for the “Hollywood Costume” exhibition and then tickets for 11:45, for the “Ballgowns” exhibition. I decided to see them both when we had gone through so much trouble to get there a second time, wait at the door for the opening and then running a sprinter race.

Unfortunately the hour that the ticket counter staff said was enough to see the exhibition  in, was not enough at all. They were letting far too many people in at a time so it was difficult to see the clothes. And I got in to a fierce argument with an idiot of a man, that had this wild idea, that we all had to queue up for every sign to read, and every dress to look at. He, his wife and mother-in-law was curb crawling, while the rest of us tried to read the signs and look at the clothes, beside them, over their heads, in any way, since these three were I guess dyslectic or something. He read about a word per minute which is what it takes me to read a full sign and I told him that. I also told him angrily, that if everyone takes a step back, ten people can read the same sign and look at the same dress, at the same time! He might have come out that morning to only see this exhibition and nothing else, but a lot of us, had other things to do in appointed times! It was nasty having to have an argument like that and I walked off without saying everything I would have liked to say, since I wanted to see everything before we rushed on to the ballgowns. So I feel disappointed with the exhibition. Too many people and one and a half hour was not enough. I did not get to see the beautiful dresses worn in all films about Elizabeth I, properly, because that man did everything to block my view just to be spiteful. Sick people like him don’t get out very often I guess and the world should turn according to their schedule.

We did back track to them later on but there were too many people still so we had to move on. It is amazing how much thought goes in to every costume, in every film that is made. It’s supposed to create a mood. It’s supposed to explain character. It’s supposed to take you back in time. Be realistic. I would have loved a job like that!!!! One was of course not allowed to take any photos so I have to see what I can find on the net for this blog post. Elizabethan dresses are gorgeous but were not my favourites. If I could have chosen one dress to have walked home with, it would have been this one: Lucy Honeychurch’s dress from “A Room With A View”. She wore it outside Florence when Mr. Emerson comes up and kisses her in the barley field! Or was it corn? Such a romantic scene, Helena Bonham Carter looking like a doll. I just love that film so much. I wanted to have touched the dress, that was made of a far more sturdy fabric than I had envisaged. Showed why women could wear them so long though. They were sturdier than one thinks! It doesn’t look much in the exhibiton, standing so close to Anna Karenina’s dress but when you love the film, you love the dress and all that it represents in the story. My other two favourite dresses were: The dress that Karen Blixen or Meryl Streep, wore in “Out of Africa”, also a film I love very much. Especially the dresses she wore when being on formal business. And the dress that Rose wore in Titanic. I hated that film since they could have used real stories for it instead of a stupid imagined up thing. But the clothes were lovely. I do love that time period in clothes! There was one more dress that really caught my eye and it was the expensive dress that Ginger Rogers got to wear in a film. It cost 35 000 Dollars to make and then we are talking Depression times. And not only that, all these beautiful dresses that were made for films and yet, all we can see on the screen, are black and white dresses, since they did not have colour film yet. In a way, all the money spent was a waste! But of course NOW we can see them, on a mannequin doll, in a museum! Not quite the same thing though! I felt really sorry for my daughter who thought she would recognize so much in the exhibition. She didn’t. Nor did I really since there were a lot of boring men’s clothes from, Ocean’s Eleven and you name all those films I have not bothered with. It still was fun to read the thought behind “Tony’s” clothes in “Saturday Night Fever”, how they came up with “Darth Vader’s” clothes and so on. “Cookie’s” favourites were definately “Harry Potter’s” clothes and “Captain Jack Sparrow’s” clothes. But what she came for was this the pictures shown below:

And they did not come until the very end of the exhibition, right at the exit which I found very odd. She did enjoy seeing Meryl Streep’s different clothes from different films she has been in, including “Mamma Mia”, but she was waiting and waiting for this dress and the replica shoes. Luckily the real shoes were on display as well and the text that said that from the beginning the shoes were supposed to be out of silver, but red looked better with the yellow brick road. I really hated having to urge “Cookie” to finish because we were late for the ballgown exhibition. I hated to look like this, in a hurry, not being able to admire and suck in the beauty, like I would have liked to. When we walked out the door and there was no point of return, I felt cheated, like I had not got to see everything that I wanted. Thanks to all the people! And V&A museum letting in too many at a time. When British Museum had their terracotta soldier exhibition, they would not have dreamed of letting this many people in. As much as these special exhibitions cost, everybody should be able to see what they’ve paid for. They need to re-think this system!

We had to run to the ballgown exhibition and I was prepared for that the man at the door would raise an eyebrow and tell us we were too late. But we were let in. Most people that wants to see this exhibition, I guess have already seen it. Although that does not make sense either, or we would have got tickets for it when we were there the first time. Then the wait to get in was over two hours. We got in though. I must say that I preferred the exhibition I saw two years ago which was not just ballgowns but regular dresses as well. That time it was “the New Look”, that I went to see. This one had some real monsters of dresses! But on the other hand, some really gorgeous ones as well. I’ll see if any of them are on google. These were “Cookie’s” favourites:ballgown1ballgown2

I understood why she loved the one to the left. It was fantastic in the colouring.  And both of us love pink. But it looked like a quilt so how comfortable would that have been to wear in a warm room with lots of people. Her other favourite was one that I could have seen myself in. This girl had worn it to a debutante ball I think and then when she got engaged, she could not find a fitting dress for the engagement party, so she settled for her Princess Diana Elvis Dress“old” dress which worked great. “Cookie” tried to draw a picture of it since we knew there would not be a post card to buy, of it. But she did not succeed. And one is not allowed to take photos of course, even though there are always a bunch of people that take the risk and do it anyway. And they get found out but the personnel do not erase the photos so in the end, they did get away with what the rest of us law abiding citizens did not dare to do! I would have loved to have had photos of some of these dresses!!! Like my favourite one that was not even on google. Or how about Princess Diana’s Elvis dress. “Cookie” thought it gorgeous. I have ambivalent feelings about it. I admired the hard work that went in to it, with sewing on all those white pearls. But it sort of does have an Elvis feel to it which gives me shivers. (It was google that named it Elvis dress and yes, it does look like his outfits, doesn’t it?)

When we were done, we decided to go to the museum shop and then have something to eat in the cafeteria. “Cookie” talked me in to buying the souvenir book that went with the “Hollywood Costumes”. It weighs a TON. I told her that we will have to pay overweight for it, at the airport but she pleaded. Finally I gave in when she promised to carry it around today and that she will have it under her arm when we are checking our luggage in. Maybe it will not have to go that far but boy is that book heavy!!! “Dollie” will love looking in it too. And it is a fun book with all the clothes and stories. They had the book still on the New Look exhibition and of course on the ballgown one. But three books that size and weight!!! I had to choose not to get one on Cecil Beaton’s war photos at the Imperial War Museum, because that one was as bad!

“Cookie” looked all over the cafeteria and the only thing she didn’t find disgusting looking, was an orange. So she finally settled on that and I got another piece of carrot cake but Hamley’s carrot cake was ten times better tasting! When we left V&A museum we had a big choice to make. “Cookie” had to face a choice. Head to the tower of London on this rainy, very windy and colder than cold day and walk around that place, getting more and more chilled to the bones. Or try for it tomorrow perhaps? After the changing of the guards? Second option was to try to find the rubber stamp shop close to British Museum. Go in to the latter so she could see the Easter Island statue that looks like the one in the “Night at the Museum” that says “Dum Dum got gum gum?”. And then head off to Harrods since she has always thought the film with “Mr. Bean” playing with the nativity scene at Harrods, so much fun.  I did take Daniel and Johannes to see it, when we went to London, since it feels like a must. It’s not an ordinary store at all!!!

We headed for the rubber stamp shop but of course I had no map with me. Had to send an SMS home to ask for directions and the only thing T. told me was, walk to the British Museum. Sure! We got out from the tube and had no idea where to walk, being so cold and getting crankier by the minute. Finally we got to some map bill boards. We still managed to get lost, till I suddenly saw the well known sign of the rubber stamp shop! We had run straight in to that, not the museum. So we were very pleased! Talk about stamp heaven!rubberblade The sad part was that while they have unmounted stamps on their web site, they are all wood mounted in the shop and wood means weight, and as you now know, we were carrying a heavy book that we worried about. So I had to control myself. “Cookie” fell in love with these cuter than cute Penny Black London stamps. I did end up buying two since the lady at the shop could not guarantee that they were available on the web site. But I did not buy the ones that I had planned to buy. I will have to do that when I get home instead. When we got out again, I noticed the British Museum walls further up the street so we headed that way and were soon indoors again. We went to see the “Gum Gum” statue. “Cookie” showed signs of wanting to see more things but I had to remind her that if she wanted to see Harrods, we had to leave. She wanted to look in the museum shop though so we stayed a WHILE. Longer than I thought or wished. She went hysterical. They had these pretty souvenir tin boxes and she could not choose which one that she wanted. She loves double-deckers but also the phone boxes. One was like a tiny little suitcase with a black and white Whitehall photo but the bus being red. She could keep her little tiny knickknacks in it. But then there was a tall standing phone box one with one child inside it and one outside, with an old fashioned look to them. I loved that one but wasn’t going to influence her. I got mad at her whining so I walked off and found a tie for T. that had all London sites in dark grey on light grey back ground. He was so jealous for not getting to go, that I thought, perfect, I’ll bring a little London home for him. And I found the cutest pencil case with the sites for “Kitty”. Now when I think about it, I should have bought those for the others as well, since it was a really, really fun and nice looking one. I who hate tacky looking souvenirs, liked it, so it says a lot. “Cookie” finally made me decide for her, so I grabbed the phone box so we could get out of there.

We headed for Harrods this time. What can I say? “Cookie” loved the look of it when we arrived. It really is something in evening light, with all the lights all over. But I was disappointed with the inside! Somehow it has changed. We did not have lots of time to spend there so I headed for the food departments, since they are amazing. But the fish display that I always show people, since it has always been fantastic, WAS GONE. That was disappointing! I showed her Princess Diana’s engagement ring at the lower ground floor but I don’t know. Somehow it has lost it’s appeal or something. When tons of tourists stand at the same time, taking photos of a memorial, it somehow looses it’s memorial feel and only feels like a cheap tourist attraction. We headed for the Christmas department and it has become so pathetic, one could cry. They who used to have several trees set up with different themes. Now it just had a cold, white, commercial feel to it. And it was so small, I would not have called it a Christmas land or whatever it was they called it. People were photographing all over which used to be forbidden. I didn’t know what to do? They had these big teddy bears standing by the lifts and people took photos of themselves, with them. “Cookie” wanted to do that as well and I could not see why the staff would mind? So we waited our turn. We noticed this old man. He was SO strange! He was standing by the soldier teddy with bear skin hat. These people were taking their photos and he was standing beside the bear on it’s right side, raising the bear’s arm in a Hitler salute! My thoughts were “How sick! Why is he doing that? It’s not the slightest funny! Why do they want a photo like that?”. Then the strange thing happened, those people walked off, and he remained, doing the Hitler sign still on the poor teddy bear.  I had thought he was part of their group. My thoughts now were “What if the arm breaks off? And I don’t want ‘Cookie’ in a photo like that.” We had to stand there and wait the stupid man out. After ten minutes, he finally lowered the bear’s arm and walked off. What a weirdo! We got our photos taken by the soldier bear, the bobby bear and all the others. “Cookie” was happy but asked me afterwards, why did he do that? I wish I knew but I told her that perhaps he was the same man that made the Hitler salute when the Germans walked in on the arena at the Olympics opening ceremony. That did not make any sense either!!! The Harrods Hitler-man looked about 75 years old or 80. Too young to have been more than a child during the war.

Did we buy anything at Harrods? Yes, in the only part where we can afford to shop. In the Harrods shop. I got a wax cloth bag which became a good thing to carry our heavy book in! It had the Union Jack all over it and the Harrods name of course. We stayed till closing which was 18:00 and outside “Cookie” got to see a Scot in kilt playing the pipes!!! I got so happy when these chance things happened to her, so that she can go back home and say that she really got to see almost everything. She was very hungry today, after her orange lunch, and she begged me to get to go to McDonald’s. We headed for Bayswater and the big M, ate quickly and then rushed home to pack AND to watch the final episode of “Downton Abbey” that they have shown commercials for every evening here. No, we haven’t seen any of the other episodes of the third season. But we had to see this final one and tomorrow we are heading to a shop that sells the DVD. I am contemplating buying series one and two as well if they have them at a good price. I missed part one of season one and part one of season two, and I really would love to see EVERYTHING. I really love this series no matter what people say about it. The clothes are so wonderful and Maggie Smith is a real gem. I just LOVE her. All her lines are soooooooo funny. I almost wish they would publish a book with just her lines! And they way she says everything, so matter of fact, makes it the more funny. When we got back to the hotel, some new guest must have moved in close by us, because the lavatory/shower was stinking of nicotine. It was absolutely awful. The nice hotel had turned in to a nightmare experience all of a sudden. I who get a migraine from cigarette smoke. We had to keep that door shut and keep the light on all evening so that the fan kept going. Horrible!

I had to do all the packing myself and I was not even half way when Downton Abbey started. In “Cookie’s” phone box tin, we found toffees, so we had something to munch on when we tried to make sense of the last episode. We thought we would get to see adowntonabbey1 wedding but it seems like Matthew and Mary must have married early on in the season. And Mary’s younger sister, Lady Cybil, seemed strangely missing. Dead? If so, how? I’m afraid we felt confused so I am glad we are buying the DVD. A LOT seem to have happened. They announced after the episode that there will be a Christmas special. Typical. I want to see that!!!! So does “Cookie”.

Well, I have weighed our suitcases now and it seems we are within the limits, so “Cookie” does not have to hand carry the book! I also discovered why my suitcase looked so strange when I got it off the luggage conveyor belt at the airport. The whole frame work on the otherwise soft suitcase has been broken in to pieces. So one useless suitcase to go in the garbage when we get home. I doubt insurance will reimburse me since I did not report the damage at the airport. I ought to have done that but we wanted to get to London quickly and starting to look around. We didn’t have a moment to loose. And I did not understand why it looked so strange suddenly. Now when packing, I unzipped the zipper at the bottom to see if I could see anything and that is when I got plastic crumbs in my hand, of all sizes.


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