Sunday, April 04, 2010

Swimming reindeer, Kingdom of Ife and lady detectives.

1. The entrance of the British Museum is Saturday crowded -- too many people, too many voices, too much to take in. We dive into a darkened side room to collect ourselves and find the swimming reindeer sculpture -- 13,000 years old. There's no rush.

2. We go to the British Museum for an exhibition of sculptures from Ife (a kingdom in what is now Nigeria). Looking at some of the bronze heads, cast between 12th and 15th century, I can see real people staring proudly back at me. Many of the sculptures were lost in times of unrest and then found again and honoured in sacred groves. Among the life-like heads, a granite mudfish stands out for me -- a roughly shaped finger of rock with rusted nail eyes and nostrils. And two terracotta rams heads -- I can see them alive in my, fine fellows standing out from the sharp-scented flock, their heads drawn back, and their lips curled to show their teeth.

3. Waiting at the station, I spot a book that Tim recommended to me some time ago -- two eccentric lady detectives solve mysteries in the gothic seaside town of Whitby. Never the Bride by Paul Magrs involves aliens-on-the-run, a devilish beauty salon and a hotel where eternal Christmas Eve is presided over by a terrifying vision of enforced jollity who calls herself Mrs Claus -- plus a fish and chip shop called Cod Almighty. I've finished it by bedtime.