Friday, June 15, 2007

Loafing in London - how it turned out

Well for a start, the meeting went on far longer than expected, eventually winding up at around 4pm. This had immediately scuppered my loafing plans as written in my last post. However, things took a different, rather more interesting turn.

The meeting had been at the Foreign Office, located in an amazingly impressive Victorian building that backs onto Downing Street. After the meeting we were given a guided tour of the place! It was amazing. Huge stair wells of marble, intricate carvings and vast amounts of gold leaf. Halls and meeting rooms so richly decorated that it really did make me feel proud to be British, until you stopped to think that the money that originally went into building the place came at the expense of our Imperial subjects. Oh well.

We went into the Foreign Minister's office for a look around, seeing where some amazingly important decisions have been made.

We stood by the fireplace that Nelson and the Duke of Wellington stood by during their only meeting. The fireplace had come from a different building, for those of you who were wondering how these 2 could have met in a Victorian building :-) (Nelson died 70 years before the building was completed).

Then there were the paintings - some huge pictures of famous people from British history. The best picture for me, though, was a mural in one of the stair wells, painted just after the end of the First World War. In the centre was Britannia, looking proud and defiant as always, comforting a naked young girl, representing Belgium. On one side of her was a group of women, each representing a country that had been friendly to Britain during the war - the USA was depicted as a warrior maiden brandishing a sword. On the other side was a group of men, each representing part of the Empire that had fought for the mother country - Canada being represented as a handsome young stud, wearing nothing but a loin cloth made from maple leaves!

However, I think the thing that I will remember most was that when I had to pop to the toilet there was a window right next to where I was standing. Looking out of the window I could see the door of Number 10 Downing Street! How surreal is that?

After leaving this place, my boss insisted on buying us all a beer, which went down very well, and then it was time to get the train home, to find my wife waiting at the station with our dog, so we strolled home and chatted about the day.

So, as you can see, my plan came to nothing, but the day was great anyway.

And I still need a Roman catapult...


Logziella said...

That sounds fantastic! Your post made me want to learn more about History. I didn't really pay attention too much in school...just memorized the info for the test and forgot it. Boy do I regret that one!

I am glad you had a great day John!

John said...

Ah, history is GREAT! I know that Britain is rather spoilt for it, but the USA has some fascinating history - the Revolution, the Wild West with the settlers, Indians, Custer and company, the Civil War with its complex causes (slavery was just a small part of it) events and results, increased industrialisation, the World Wars, the Depression, Vietnam, the Cold War... Enough to keep you going for a while?

amazingbrenda said...

That's awesome! I love being present where history was written or made. I agree with USA having a good history. Now that I live in Europe I really enjoy going to such places & castles etc. We will soon be visiting the consentration camps.

O was in Romania last week & we visited the palace that Caucescu built. I will be posting pictures & talk abt my trip

Thanks for sharing. I always love to imagine what they were doing & saying in such places.

krista said...

Awesome post John! You make me want to explore the hidden and not so hidden history in my city. Ali, Zig and I have been talking about taking a walking tour into and around the old buildings here on one of our lunch hours during the summer. We'll have to get on it! Sorry about your Roman catapult! Glad you had a great day anyway!