Saturday, 14 April 2007

Pollution and History

The drive to Hampton Court Palace will take 42 minutes said my Tom Tom. Nearly 2 hours later after a crawl through Clapham and Wandsworth we arrived in time to see Henry VIII play Cardinal Wolsley at bowls. The king was rather good actually. Once I'd coughed up half of London I was amazed at the freshness of the air and country feel of the place. I spose the rich dudes on that side of town pay for all the good oxygen and all us common lot get the crap stuff full of CO2 etc. Like on Total Recall but without the mutants.

When I was a kid I hated the whole stately homes thing. We used to visit them all the time and I reckon it could have been made interesting but somehow one picture looked like another and one stately room was just a vast, uncomfortable room ideal for running a matchbox car across. Thankfully a lot of places have upped the ante a bit and Hampton Court is no exception. OK, the Henry and Cardinal "actors" are a little cheesy and don't teach you much but the guys preparing food in the kitchens are knowledgeable and interesting. I so wanted one of their pies.

Each room has it's own security guard/ guide/ bored person. They can't wait to assault you with their niche knowledge about their room. Mostly it's charming but you have to have an exit strategy. S's strategy is feigning interest in some invisible point in the distance and shuffling towards it. Mine is to listen and nod for an hour until they run out of things to say. I was getting hungry after looking at all the fake pies (it really is worth going just to look at how big pies were then- no wonder Henry was such a fat bastard). I went up to Nigel in the Queen's ballroom: 'Where can I get something to eat here?' I queried amiably. 'Well,' began Nige, quite promisingly, 'this room was used to entertain guests....blah blah...'
'Nooooooooo....,' I thought.
'Really?' I said, nodding enthusiastically as I saw S disappearing into the Queen's bedroom with a hand clasped over her mouth.
An hour later we made it too the tea room on the far side of The Wilderness (posh and hyperbolic they are them rich folk). 'PIE!' I demanded. The nearest they had was a kind of fish finger the size and shape of a tennis ball. I had that with carrots and chips.

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