The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was highly influenced by Italian art and literature. We sent our art historian Proserpine Gainsborough-Halfwit to run an eye over the current exhibition of Pre-Raphaelite art at Oxford's Ashmolean.
"Review the Pre-Raphaelite thing at the Ashmolean," they said. "It finishes next month."
"Of course - great. I love the Pre-Raphs." I said. "Where's the Ashmolean - can I get a taxi?"
"It's in Oxford - and if you get a taxi from London, you're paying. Train fare only on expenses." they said.
After spending hours on the internet, I learned I could get a train (a train! I mean...) from Ealing Broadway without having to traipse into Paddington on a Saturday. Yuck!
So I spent an hour and forty minutes on a horrid little local-type train which stopped at every horrid little halt in those west-of-London suburbs and some other places I'd never heard of. (Didcot Parkway, anyone?)
(Oh yes - and a humungous 'thank you' to everyone in the office for NOT telling me that if I'd changed at Slough I could have got a faster train from there! You really are all so mean.)
So I got a taxi from the station (ugh - hundreds of ordinary people!) and the editor is refusing to pay for that: "It's not five minutes' walk," he says.
"But I was a girl alone in a strange city!"
"It was bloody Oxford on a bloody Saturday in broad bloody daylight you stupid bloody..."
So, 'The Pre-Raphaelites And Italy.' Full of stupid people, of course. I don't know why I bother. You can never get near the pictures at these things. People peering short-sightedly at the brushwork, or some minute detail.
And screaming toddlers bored out of their wits.
And pseudy-arty-looking types standing for simply ages in front of a picture you want to look at, pretending they're pondering the painterliness of the work when really you know they're thinking about what's for dinner. They know you're waiting, but they refuse to budge.
There were some Rossetti water colours and some of his later portraits but in between there was some really (really) dull stuff by Ruskin - his paintings of bits of Italian architecture. Plus, he doesn't really count as a Pre-Raphaelite, does he?
Some of Burne-Jones's designs for some church or other also helped to fill one of the three rooms.
But it's not a very large show and I certainly wondered why they bothered putting it together... Rossetti was the most featured painter here and he never even went to Italy, despite his family background and fascination with Dante!
Anyway, a nice man at the station told me about changing trains on my way back to Ealing Broadway, so my journey home was just an hour (so yah booh to everyone in the office).
I think I will go back to the Ashmolean one day. But someone will have to drive... I'll get Jeremy to take me! Or Ben in his Beamer!