Wednesday, 14 September 2016

I've seen the Elephant!

'And not a lotta people know that'

Tuesday 13th September
          After suffering writer's block for a few weeks I decided that it was maybe time to get my nose back to the grindstone and get some practice in before heading to the Land of the Rising Sun to celebrate my thirtieth plus birthday.
           To give me some subjects to write about we headed for Lady Watson's second home namely London.We set of in one of our red and white chariots of diesel and headed south and after being suitably pampered arrived into a very warm Autumnal London day inspiring us to head towards the River Thames in search of a nice watering hole.
An oasis by the Thames
       We found it in the shape of the Rutland Arms hostelery where a few flagons of Twickenham brewery's finest ale were dispatched very quickly complemented by Lady Watson's demolition of a couple of large pinos infused with copious amounts of ice .
Still walking straight after a few wines
 The Rutland Arms is in the shade of Hammersmith bridge and is used as a watering hole in New Tricks tv series  but alas Sandra P wasn't in attendance.Woe is me.
   After being suitably refreshed we sought out somewhere to eat and found it in the form of a Chinese buffet run by Poles-nuff said. I was half expecting stuffed cabbage with a sweet and sour sauce.
From there we headed back towards our accommodation in the Elephant and Castle area of south London.This area was chosen due to it being in the neighbourhood  of tomorrow's first destination-Imperial War museum.The Elephant and Castle is a diverse area of London,home to a multitude of races living together without any outward show of hostility towards each other.During the day it is not the quietest place around with a combination of underground trains running into the station complimenting the sounds of aircraft coming into land at nearby Heathrow airport.It can be a bit nervy walking under these landing planes praying that they don't stall.
After a suitably night of rest -not!it was still over twenty decrees during the night,,we walked along towards the museum which emerged into view after about fifteen minutes with the view of the fifteen inch naval guns to the fore.
                  I had last been at the Imperial War museum about five years ago and then it reminded me of a giant Airfix catalogue.After much needed renovations it has evolved into a nice open plan museum with more displays and more exhibits to keep one and all amused.
Especially for Bill
                     We arrived at the museum passing a monument to all the Soviet dead in the second world war in the process and after Lady Watson took a couple of hundred pictures in the peace garden
.Acting as a form of gateguard are two 15inch gun barrels.One from HMS Ramillies and one from HMS Resolution. We ventured into the museum itself being met by the sight of a Spitfire hangjng from the ceiling side by side with a Harrier.
Just like Airfix kits
Complementing these two aircraft were V1 And V2 rockets.As we moved further into the museum I caught sight of a T34 peering out from behind a pillar.Nowadays the sight of a T34 tends to make me think of our Shug who sadly passed away in April.His coffin was covered in picturesof T34s and at his eulogy it was stated that he wished everything in life was as simple as a T34.On the ground level also was a 13lb Qf gun complete with limber which has been around this museum since the end of the First World War and with the help of the occasional lick of paint still stands out.
This has been here for ever
                           As always Lady Watson and I went our own way and I first headed up towards the second world war exhibits which also included films and newsreels from both sides showing the difference in the propaganda issued by all involved.
                            There was plenty of equipment from both sides on view backed up with documentation and original maps.
Wreck of a Japanese aircraft
                                  Moving on through the exhibit we ended up in the modern exhibits portraying conflict both external and internal.
The 'Humble' Pig
                              There were exhibitions about the home front during the second world war showing life in London during the blitz centred around the Allpress family and their existence throughout the war.
The Allpress family
                  On the ground floor were exhibits from the First World War and when I was there it was infested with school kids drawing pictures and filling in question sheets.I think it's a good idea to let the kids learn about past conflicts but sometimes the way the kids are educated demeans the actual events and gives the children a false impression of the seriousness of these conflicts.
The Kaiser's coat given to him by his cousin the Tsar-ironic.

                                  There were more exhibitions concerning post war conflicts including an exhibit entitled Ebola to Isis telling of the threats our lads face today.
Ebola to Isis
A nice wee Ferret
                                   My favourite exhibit was the one devoted to our secret wars from our involvement with the French resistance through the SOE,helping out in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Aegean,with mention of the kidnapping of General Kriepe by Patrick Leigh Fermor,W Stanley Moss and the lads of the Cretan resistance which inspired the book and the film 'Ill met by Moonlight'.
Popski's Private army's antics in the Western desert also get a deserved mention.
Before moving on to the antics of the post war secret forces there were exhibits about SOE in north west Europe and their actions in the far east with a nice little example of a 24 hour ration pack with the standard spam pack.Lovely!
Actually looks ok
                                        Post war actions in southern Arabia right up to the Falkland War were mentioned before the exhibition culminated in a film documentary of the SAS action at the Iranian embassy on Princes Gate in South Kensington in May 1980.
SAS in Southern Arabia
And in the Falklands
 I met up again with Lady Watson and we headed off towards the cafe to indulge in a couple of home made sausage rolls in order to revitalise us before we headed for the last exhibition on our visit which was the 'Real to Reel' a century of war films.Oh baby!Right up my street.
Anyone for popcorn?
               On display were references to films starting with the factual 'Battle of the Somme'right up to the latest 'Eye in the Sky'.There were clips,costumes,memorabilia and souvenirs including a genuine Oscar.All major and a few minor films were represnted.The Great Escape was supported by Steve Mcqueen's motorcycle.Peter o'Toole's costume from Lawrence of Arabia was on display along with David Niven and Clark Gable's actual serving uniforms were on display.All my favourite war films were on display Bridge To Far,Guns of Navarone,Where Eagles Dare(complete with Clint Eastwood's German uniform and model cable car),Battle of Britain and even a mention of The Green Berets which I like and sod the goody goody comments.
                                         A good day was had by one and all and I would thoroughly recommend it for a day's entertainment especially as its free with a nominal charge for the 'Reel to Real'exhibit.
Monument to the WW2 fireman
                         After leaving the museum Lady Watson decided that she wanted to see the Great fire of London exhibit at the London Museum so we headed for the nearest Underground station and made our way to the museum situated near the Barbican.
The Great Fire of London exhibit was contained within the museum and was an excellent display showing the origins of the fire through the inactions of the mayor,the hesitancy of both the king and the gentry through to the eventual extinction of the blaze and even thrown into that lot was an invasion scare that the French and Dutch armies were about to invade London.Fantastic exhibition.
When we left the exhibition we were left short of time to visit the rest of the museum so we decided to come back the next day for a longer visit.Any place that has Cromwell's death mask intrigues me.
I wonder if this is where David Hasselhof stays
                  After leaving the London museum we decided that food was on the agenda and Lady Watson surprised me by deciding that we would go for either a KFC or a Macdonalds.I was that stunned that we had to go into a pub to calm my nerves,especially one that sold Doom Bar.Suitably refreshed we headed for St Paul's cathedral before heading for the Millenium bridge stopping off to take a photo of the College of Arms.
Straight out of O.H.M.S.S
Globe Theatre
We crossed the bridge and headed for Southwark passing the Globe theatre in the process and in that time we didn't pass one KFC or Macd's-typical!After a while we ended up back at the Elephant and still couldn't find either joint.We actually ended up with a couple of healthy salads albeit washed down by some Old Speckled Hen,a very nice beer especially at £1 a bottle.
                    Chilled for the rest of the evening by consuming the salads washed down by ale and wine and complemented by two episodes of To The Manor Born-can't beat it!


  1. As good an account of the Imperial War Museum as anyone could hope to read. Very impressive!

  2. I think the new WW1 display is really superb...

  3. I think, that I will be lonely with my opinion i liked it more before the refurbishment. Everything was much more according to the timeline.