Granddaughter Eleanor and I think it’s about time we had another OMO. As in, Obscure Museums Outing, don’t you know?
We started off this new, exciting (and hopefully improving) initiative last summer with a visit to the Florence Nightingale Museum at St Thomas’s Hospital in London, specifically to see a slightly gruesome and extremely poignant exhibition about
the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. Which, given the current events and the fear of the worldwide spread of the Coronavirus, suddenly seems peculiarly topical, all these many years on.
Whither should we wander now? we are asking each other. I find an advert for a new “immersive exhibition” coming to the V & A museum and forward it to my granddaughter and fellow member of the OMO. Okay, you are protesting
that nobody in their right kind could possibly describe the V & A as an “obscure museum” and you are, of course, quite right. But the exhibition is about Alice in Wonderland and it occurs to me that a trip down a rabbit hole might just fit
the ticket. Eleanor, fortunately, agrees with me and suggests we need to fix a date. There is nobody, I think, with whom I would rather fall down a rabbit hole...
had a bit of time to think, however, I start to worry about the word “immersive.” Exactly what am I letting myself in for, I worry. Here’s the rub - I simply cannot abide anything that describes itself as a “simulator.” I was
a thorn in the side of my family when we visited Disney in 2005 because I was only able to enjoy rides which allowed me to keep both feet on the ground. There aren’t too many of those in the average Thriller Theme Park. I can handle 3D, only shrieking
a little bit when weird and wonderful creatures spring out of a big screen making me duck in terror. I don’t mind too much if some water is shed, or puffs of air blown out around me and I can deal with smells. Mostly. What I can’t handle is when
the seat in which I am sitting starts to rock from side to side, before simulating the experience of travelling on the scariest of roller coasters.
Mr B and I were courting (what a strangely evocative and old-fashioned term that is) he once took me to Southend which boasted, at the time, the largest, longest, scariest roller coaster in the country. Mr B being the persuasive type and me being the easily
persuaded, he helped me onto the Beastly Thing and off we roller coasted. (If there is such a word. If not, then I have just invented it.)
All around us,
girls were screaming in mock terror as we swooped and dived. I, white as a sheet apparently, was too afraid to utter so much as a squeak, speechless with sheer terror. When we finally tumbled off, Mr B - beyond scared at the effect the ride had had on me -
vowed never, ever to put either of us through such a trial again. “When you said you were scared of roller coasters,” he consoled my Quivering Person, “I didn’t think you meant, well, scared...”
He had a taste of his own medicine, many years later, on a trip to Blackpool with some of his golfing friends. One of their number persuaded them all to pay out for a ride on what I believe is called
The Big One. I am given to understand that the rollercoaster at Southend is just a winnow compared with this whale of a ride. Once the friends were all belted in and ready to go, Mr B noticed that Nick, who had persuaded them all to give it a try, was not
with them. Why wasn’t he coming along with them? he called down. “I’ve been on it once,” answered a grinning Nick, “Never again...”
What I am (slowly) getting around to is whether Eleanor and I will actually find ourselves falling headlong down a virtual rabbit hole as we immerse ourselves in Alice’s Wonderland. Will it, do you think, be really scary? I’m not too worried
about the characters we might meet along the way (though I have always found the Cheshire Cat a trifle spooky, now I come to think of it) and I would definitely like to make the acquaintance of the Dodo, never having met (unsurprisingly) anything extinct before.
I check out the museum’s website and discover that the Alice in Wonderland exhibition doesn’t open until June and tickets are not as yet on sale. It seems I have
time to do a little research, to satisfy my concerns.
I’m getting curiouser and curiouser. As Alice would say...