Saturday, February 13, 2016

Things people do

Today dawned raw and cold but I felt like doing something so I went up town to look at the museum without the grandchildren. Lovely as they are, their presence isn't conducive to long examination of artefacts. I jumped on a bus which should have taken me all the way, only it didn't because it slowed down and stopped. The driver then got out and returned after a moment to say that the road ahead was closed and we all had to leave the bus. So we did. There was a police car across the road, blocking it, and there were lots of policemen herding everyone to the other side of the road. We were all looking around to try to see what was happening, but there was nothing obvious. Then someone looked up, and then everyone looked up, and there was a girl in a white dressing gown, sitting on top of a dormer window in a roof, four floors above the road. She was hunched against the cold.

She must have been persuaded to go in because when I returned a couple of hours later, all seemed normal. However, it was rather sobering. I imagine that she wanted someone to pay attention to her. Who knows? Maybe she wasn't in a state to think rationally at all. I wonder how it felt to look down and see the traffic jam of buses and cars; and the people hurrying away; and the swarms of policemen in the streets. Attention was certainly being paid.

Since there were no buses to continue my journey, I walked the rest of the way, up past the Castle rock (above), which was looking particularly sombre and unclimbable (so as to repel invaders, which was the idea)...
and on up Castle Terrace. There were a lot of tourists. I can never really understand why tourists come here in winter. I mean, I like my city as much as the next person, but I really wouldn't recommend Scotland in February as a holiday destination, not if you could choose another time. Our winter days are sometimes sunny and mild but on the other hand are sometimes dreich, like today. So come in the spring, summer or autumn, people, that's my advice - when the days are long and the sun may be warm.

Anyway, the museum. I really like - would like to have in my house - this large "blue and white jar of a hundred cranes", Ming dynasty, late 16th to early 17th century. I wonder who painted the cranes in such an intricate pattern, almost like M C Escher, but all slightly different; and what he (I imagine it was a he) would have thought to see me looking at it in a glass case in such a different world from his own. And where has it been in the intervening 300 years?

And this wall tile with tulips, painted in the Netherlands in the 1630s - how did it survive and end up here? And isn't it quite like the tulip wall tile that I bought in the Netherlands in the late 1990s?

This coffin end is a lot older. What Egyptian painted it between the 8th and 4th century BC, and how amazed would he (I assume) be to see me in my waterproof  jacket admiring it 2000+ years later? It's an Apis bull (the incarnation of a god) who was thought to protect the dead on their way to the underworld. It really looks quite modern: bright and clear. Things last such a long time compared to people, who pop in for a few years and then depart.

(Oh, this is big. What is Blogger up to?) Here's Vishnu sleeping on the coils of Ananta, the World Snake, carved in the 14th century. He will awaken for the next cycle of creation which will herald the destruction of all things. Luckily he looked quite peaceful when I took his photo.

So many things, so many people; so impossible, really, to know what's been going on in anyone's head. I hope that girl is all right.


  1. I love that pot, although it looks too big to fit in my house! I intend to come to Scotland in the fall. September?

  2. Beautiful things to contemplate. Good for you to have some time to look and enjoy.

    I hope the Girl in the White Dressing Gown feels better. Things must have been desperate for her yesterday.

  3. Every object would have a story to tell - and how interesting some of them would be, if they could only talk!

  4. I've only been in Edinburgh twice and both times were in June and both were wonderful. But your blog makes me realize that there is so much more to see!

    I really like that jar, too, and thought it reminded me of Escher and tessellations the minute I saw it.

    So sorry about the poor young woman. I hope she will get the help she needs.

  5. I often wonder about the journey an object I'm looking at in a museum has been on.
    Sad about the young woman, we all need someone to care and so many don't have anyone.