Return to the Horniman

Following my successful book signing at Hayaam Belly Dance Showcase in London, I took the day off work.  Wrist fatigue from all that signing, you know.  I decided to spend the day at the Horniman Museum.  Last time I was at the Horniman I didn’t actually get to look around all that much because we spent such a large part of the evening in the taco queue, so I promised myself a return visit sometime.  Mostly I wanted to see the gardens but partly I wanted to see the walrus.

A friend of mine, upon reading my tales of adventure from my previous Horniman visit, asked if I had become acquainted with the Horniman walrus (assuring me that was not a euphemism, as I now assure you, gentle reader.)  I had not had the pleasure.  My friend explained, and the Horniman Twitter account confirmed, that their famous walrus specimen was brought to England before most people had seen a walrus in the wild.  The confounded taxidermists were therefore unaware the poor thing was supposed to have wrinkles, and so kept stuffing and stuffing it until it looked a bit like a walrus-blimp.  The Horniman Twitter account further informed me that the walrus was on holiday at the seaside until September, which I took to be the glib sort of thing that one would say were one in charge of the Horniman Museum twitter account.

But alas no, when I finally arrived at the spot where the walrus should be no walrus was, for indeed, he is at the seaside.  The walrus is currently on loan to an art gallery in Margate and he won’t be back for another couple of weeks.  Lesson: do not doubt the true and earnest sincerity of the Horniman Twitter feed.

It was too nice a day to stay inside so I pottered around the grounds for a bit–there’s a lovely view of the London skyline from the top of the hill.  Also a brilliant sound-based playground which makes rather pleasing background noise to a wander around the gardens.

In truth part of the reason I made today Horniman day is because the Londonist daily listings couldn’t suggest anything more enticing.  It seems that every time I have the day off work the Londonist listings are always sparse.  The only thing that piqued my curiosity was an evening event, an erotic literary soiree called ‘Velvet Tongue’ in Shoreditch.

But then I thought I’d have to go on my own and it would be horrible because some beardy with a waxed mustache in an undersized porkpie hat wearing boat shoes and no socks would probably try to sit next to me and make small talk.  (I have little experience of erotic literary soirees, dear reader, but plenty of experience of Shoreditch.)  And then I’d have to explain that I went to the Horniman Museum and an erotic literary soiree all on the same day, one after the other, and…well…there might be talk about some people having a one-track mind.

Though just to be clear, the Horniman isn’t a grotto of grownup pleasures.  I saw on a sign that they’d won family-friendly museum of the year, though with all the shrieking kids being chased around by harried parents you didn’t really need a sign.  I suppose you could make the argument that one prerequisite for the creation of children (and thus by extension families) is a Horniman and thus the award for family-friendly museum should sort of be theirs by natural law.  But that is neither here nor there.

Update: The dear Horniman Walrus very kindly responded to my tale via Twitter.  Here’s what the good walrus had to say: