Sunday, July 4, 2010

London Miscellaneous (#10)

I found out some miscellaneous information about London that's sort of a potpourri of facts. You never know when they might come in handy over some dinner party.
Here ya go:
** The city of London was founded by the Romans 2000 years ago, I don’t know the exact date, perhaps exactly when they were destroying Jerusalem. London is one square mile and is comprised of London and Westminster. The famous London Bridge was also built for the first time by the Romans as a wooden bridge. It was torn down and rebuilt so many times, hence the song we all know, “London Bridge is falling down….”
** Fleet Street – the street of Charles Dickens and the legendary Barber (more gore) who killed his customers and had his next door neighbor bake them into pies. Yuchsa. Bet you’ll never look at a pie the same after hearing that.
** Many streets in London are named after the produce that was sold there once upon a time – Candle Lane, Garlic Street, etc.
** In the 1660s, the Bubonic plague struck London. Thinking that the dogs and cats of London caused it, the city killed them all, but that set the rats multiplying out of control, and the rats were the ones that carried the plague.
In 1966, the Great Fire of London destroyed 80% of the city, but it also killed all the rats, and the plague was over.
** Big Ben, London’s most famous Kodak picture spot, took two men 32 hours to wind the clock in the old days. Today it’s wound electronically.

The Victoria and Albert Museum

London is packed with museums, and they’re all free.
We visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, built under the reign of Queen Victoria, and financed by one of the Rothschilds. (I am always thrilled to walk around Jerusalem and see all the museums, hospitals, parks, schools and plazas donated by dear Jews from throughout the world. I understand why a Jewish person that is a citizen of whatever country would want to donate to a worthy charity or cultural project in their country, and I hope that he would also help many Jewish causes in the land of his birth, as well as the Land of His People.)
Before the expansion of the Moslem influence in Europe, this was a very Christian place. The Church had the money and funded the arts. In addition, people were very religious. Their artwork was based on their religious beliefs, therefore the museums are filled with rooms of Madonnas and Saints. We skipped those, and opted for the Renoirs and Passaros. Pierre Auguste Renoir’s painting of Gladioli in a Vase from 1874 was magnificent. A crowd stood around the work of art, as did we. Beautiful. Truthfully, it looked like one of the photographs I have from the renowned American photographer Gale Blumenthal.
The Thomas Gainsborough room was too gorgeous with Gainsborough's portraits of the rich and famous.
Our destination was Sun Flower by Vincent Van Gogh. The yellow sun flowers were so beautiful - happy. Van Gogh associated the color yellow with hope and friendship. This and his painting of the Starry Night are his two most famous pieces. But Van Gogh was a tortured man, and his episodes of happiness were not too often.
Next to Van Gogh was Toulouse Lautrec (1864-1901) who died at 36 when he fell into a wine barrel. It seems that several of the artists on display were drunkards, unhappy, tormented people.
Truthfully, this saddened me. It is a little depressing to think that these masters of art could only pain from a tortured soul. In fact, I just read an article about Picasso, and it said that art critics don't pay much attention to the work created during the period of his life when he lived happily in the south of France with his two children and their mother. They believe his unhappy period pieces are his finest.
I have no comment about this.
It's too late to change history for Van Gogh or Lautrec or Picasso, but I hope that artists in the future will be blessed with inspiration through uplifting moments in their lives.

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