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...