Written by Ellis Ian Fields
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Friday, 4 March 2011

image for Book Of The Dead - British Museum. Disappointing Playing Cards.

We are fascinated by the ancient Egyptians and their death cults. Why? Perhaps this exhibition at the British Museum could explain.

Archaeologist Chasuble Mendip-Never writes:

To Bloomsbury, the British Museum. Why, oh why? I detest and loathe these things.

Rubbing along with the great unwashed, the hoi polloi, the mob... oh, the mob! Bonaparte had the right idea...

And why do so many of them bring their small children?

Sigh.

The writing is on the wall, as it were, from the moment we enter the introductory display - entry is by timed tickets, and everyone due to enter at 1.20 has turned up at 1.20 along with late 1.10s. The place is heaving.

I can smell the press of humanity and I find it noisome.

One cannot get close to any part of the display to examine it properly. So tiresome.

Dopey old women and cocky young men stand in front of you while you're reading a caption or examining an exhibit.

I develop a policy of reading each room's introductory 'writing on the wall' and flash-visiting displays that are not too crowded.

In a particularly gruesome space, I stop and look at my fellow viewers. I have just read that souls with whom the gods were displeased would be upended, and thus forced to eat excrement and drink urine...

A thoroughly uncomfortable experience. As was this visit.

And the gift shop playing cards. How dare they?

I have been collecting playing cards for many years and rarely have I been so disappointed by such a souvenir pack.

The court cards repeat the same picture in each suit and the aces are, likewise, all the same. Even the standard pack we all use for patience and bridge manages to display different kings, queens and knaves in each suit.

Lacking foresight and thus oblivious that we would be rubbing salt in my wounds, my wife and I decided to take a late lunch in the Museum Tavern across the road.

Marvellous Timothy Taylor Landlord bitter, really well kept. But a "sharer" plate of nachos is quite enragingly sans jalapenos - although the French lady at the adjacent table had so many she left more than she could have consumed.

No, reader, I was not tempted.

I can't blame the museum for jalapeno deficiency. But I have a mind to.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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