Tate Modern


I’m not keen on museums, galleries, National Trust properties, family days out in general. Too much childhood boredom baggage I carry around. Feeling sick in the car, feeling bored when we get there. I never developed that adult interest in things I was dragged around as a kid.

Instead, I see the whole edifice as an excuse invented, in the early days of motoring, for somewhere to go in the car. Earlier than that, an excuse for a trip on a train.

When not everybody had a car, when it was something special, then people wanted to get in and go. What do you do when you get there? Wander around looking at stuff, have a picnic, then head off home.

The family wanted to go to London. So, having recently refused a walk in the f*cking sn*w, I felt obliged not to object. Kid 2 wanted to go to see the dinosaurs. Nobody else really wanted to. We’d got as far as sitting in the station waiting room without having much of a plan, beyond that I wanted to try some of those fancy London “gourmet” burgers (recession comfort food). Then someone tweeted something about the Tate Modern, and I suggested that.

Kid 2 sulked. We ended up going to the dinosaurs anyway, but she didn’t know it at the time.

We went to The Diner off Carnaby Street and had a burger (though Time Out had complained they were over-cooked and took too long to arrive). It was all right. Not overcooked. And didn’t take half an hour. Place wasn’t too busy (as a family we always eat early). Kids liked it.

We made our way to Southwark. By the time we arrived, my ankles and knee joints were hurting (drug side effects, I think), but we walked around. Amazing to see the number of families there with very young children. I could see my own childhood restless boredom, right there. Kid 2 is 11, and would have appreciated some of what we saw, if she hadn’t been sulking. She’s too old for dinosaurs, fucksake.

I like some of it. Some of it was a load of old wank. Some of it made me laugh. There were too many hipsters around. I mostly enjoyed things I’d seen before, years ago, when there was just the Tate. I didn’t think much of the place, or the space, though that’s probably because you shouldn’t try to see too much in one visit. Or at half-term.

Afterwards, we walked in the rain and then got on the tube to the Natural History Museum. It was half-term. There were 97,000 people in the queue, which was only really a queue to reach the queue to queue to view the dinosaurs. It was a joyless experience of shuffling forward, surrounded by screeching little boys and Russian tourists with a flexible idea about queueing. (They thought they’d spotted a way to cheat, left the queue, got turned back, and then rejoined the queue in exactly the same place. I’m sorry, comrade, but in Britain we have this thing called a sense of fair play.) But I didn’t say anything, not wishing to create a diplomatic incident.

My left shoe was fine. Fitted perfectly, snug and comfortable. My right shoe was slightly too big, and my foot slid around a bit. So I ended up with a bit of a blister.

I bought a pair of jeans, which might be a mistake for someone my age. My daughter, who had her Vespa bag with her, bought a Lambretta bag in the Lambretta shop.


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