Monday, 7 June 2010


This has been a week of free phone calls. I've had long talks with lots of the people I love, and I don't feel so bad about being far away. I think I'm understanding the benefit of breaking out on your own, even if you love the things you're breaking away from....of course, I'm cheating in my breaking away - the is a fraction of my old life that I've brought into the new, but in a different way from before.

I think I'm just starting to feel entirely in control of things. Staying in the same place you grew up in and living with the same people you always have done - it lets you divest some of the responsibility for your life and actions to them. It's not a bad thing, but it takes going away for you to find out how all of those parts of yourself work properly.

Also, down here, I'm near to the heaven that is Ben's Cookies.

I ate about a million of them this weekend (real number more life three and a half), and even now I'm wishing I had brought some back from London with me.

The museum for this week was the British Museum. I mostly went for the Enlightenment gallery, because the collection culture of the time still interests me so much. I also went through the Egyptian, Asian and African galleries, and mainly just felt curious about what all that stuff is doing in the British Museum rather than museums in the countries to which it actually belongs. Particularly that applies to the Egyptian stuff, there are these huge room-filling sculptures which used to guard temple gates - they are amazing but so out of place trapped in the controlled environment of the museum. I can certainly see that there would have been an argument for that sort of thing before air travel and the internet, but now I'm not so sure.

One thing that was really interesting there was in the Enlightenment room, it was in the section on collections. There were several examples of the plumage of Birds of Paradise, and next to them was this:

Europeans first became aware of birds of paradise in the sixteenth century, after merchants returned from Indonesia with prepared specimens known as 'trade skins'. These skins were made to display the birds' fabulous plumes, and had the feet and wings cut off. As a result some Europeans thought that the birds did not have feet and spent their lives floating through the air, drinking dew and never touching the earth until their death. It was because of this that they were called birds of paradise. One species was even named Paradisea apoda, meaning 'the footless bird of paradise'.

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