Serenity at the British Museum

Amenhotep 111 About 1350 BC
Amenhotep 111 About 1350 BC

The ancient Egyptian sculptors were wonderful at this sort of transcendent beauty.  According to the British Museum info, the original statue was between 7.5 and 8m tall, and stood on the West Bank of the Nile at Thebes.. You can see this fabulous head in the Great Court.

It’s a Fake

Not what it seems
Not what it seems

It looks like a London telephone box but it’s a British Museum construct, full of biscuits and sweets. Quite the best museum shop with a wide variety of artefacts relating to their excellent exhibitions. The signage in their exhibitions is always clear and legible. You don’t have to get close and peer at the labels, which are always situated near the exhibit – unlike the museums where you have to search around to find them and then can’t decide which title belongs to which!!.

How lovely to have a cat

Rupert hugging Josh's shoes
Rupert 2nd hugging Josh’s shoes

I’d love to have a cat again but we live in an apartment on the 9th floor and it would be too dangerous to allow our cat out on the balcony. I’d already had one cat fall from my balcony when I was 7 and living in Petticoat Lane, though that was only from the 3rd floor.

Extract from my memoir Woman in a White Coat
It was wonderful coming home to Rupert. He’d wind himself round and round my ankles, delighted to see me again. I was used to being greeted by a mother who seemed barely to tolerate me.

When I went to the toilet outside on our little balcony, Rupert would follow me and walk along the brick support at the bottom of the protective railings. As he grew bolder, he started climbing over the coal bunker and up to the bar at the top, weaving in and out of the upright spikes. I could hardly bear to watch him. Sometimes he walked along the railings to our neighbour’s balcony. She always had a few scraps for a cat who was always hungry, even when he had just been fed.

‘Be careful,’ I told Rupert. ‘I know you’ve got nine lives, but we’re on the third floor, and it’s a long way down.’

Rupert said nothing and stalked into the kitchen, but when I did my homework he came to sit on my lap, purring loudly.

One terrible day, when I was standing on the balcony watching as Rupert put one careful foot in front of the other on the top bar of the guard rail, my mother called me.

‘Abby, come in at once. What’s all this?’

As I turned back, Rupert lost his footing and fell. I was paralysed; couldn’t move,

‘Mummy, come quickly,’ I screamed. ‘Rupert’s fallen off.’

‘He’ll be dead, for sure, but you’d better go down and see.’

I raced down the six flights of stairs, out into Goulston Street, round into Wentworth Street and into the entrance of our courtyard. Rupert was sitting there, nonchalantly licking a paw, as if falling from the third floor was nothing.

‘You’re a naughty, naughty, kitten,’ I said as I picked him up and hugged him.

The old woman who was always on her first floor balcony, looking out and gossiping about everyone, said:

‘They’ve got nine lives and no mistake. You should look after it better, Abby. You tell your mother I said so.’

Rupert licked my hand with his rough little tongue.

‘You’re to stop walking along the railings,’ I told him, but an hour later he was winding in and out of the spikes, as if to show he wasn’t a scaredy cat, even if I was.

When Josh and i were first married we had a tabby cat we also called Rupert

 From my memoir Woman in a White coat

The New Spitalfields Market

Only this sculpture of a pear. All the fresh fruit and vegetables have gone
Only this sculpture of a pear and a fig remind us that Spitalfields was once a thriving fruit and vegetable market.

My grammar school, Central Foundation School for Girls, was in Spital Square on the edge of Spitalfields Market. On my way to school from our tenement in Petticoat Lane I walked through the market, skirting the squashed produce and horse droppings. While most farmers brought in their fruit and vegetables by lorry, some still used a horse and cart.

From my memoir Woman in a White Coat

I didn’t practise enough to play the cello well, but I enjoyed playing in a quartet. We played with great enthusiasm though not much musicianship. We were rarely quite in tune. Our practice room was next to the sixth form common room. The seniors would come out with their hands over their ears complaining about the noise.

Sarah had a little pitch pipe to give us an A but Jo, the viola player, seemed to have no sense of pitch. Sometimes even we couldn’t stand the sound she made and had to tell her to shut up. When we practised, either we weren’t quite in tune or one or other of us would come in a couple of beats late and we’d all start giggling. Once we started, anything would set us off laughing again.

Blog by Dr Abby J Waterman and her new book, Woman in a White Coat

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