UK Trip: Day Seven

Mild weather today. Rushed to Lord’s for their guided tour at 11 AM and made it comfortably.

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We encountered a couple of stuffy old men at the concierge.

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Once we got past them we went to the M.C.C. Museum also at Lord’s. Our tour guide was particularly witty and knowledgeable. Most tour guides and Britons, in general, seem to have a delightfully nuanced sense of humour. He also is a freelance TV sports broadcaster. The most famous exhibit in the museum is ‘The Ashes’ urn.

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This is the real urn which is not taken out of it’s glass case at  Lord’s anymore as it’s very fragile. The winning players lift up replicas which is a good thing because, according to our guide, the replicas have been broken before.

P1040266.JPGThis is the enlarged Waterford crystal Ashes urn which was commissioned in 1999 to be presented to winning teams in lieu of the actual urn. It’s almost a ritual for the winning team to fill it up with liquid stimulants after the match.

This is a display of cricket balls. Also present is the famous pink ball going to be used in the upcoming Day-Night Tests. The big one is a softball meant for comparison. To the right of that is a paper-weight enclosing a piece of turf from the Lord’s ground.

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This is the famous Prudential World Cup which was lifted by Kapil Dev in 1983. This World Cup victory marked the rise of Indian cricket. 1983 triggered high-levels of cricket interest in the masses which persists even today. It electrified a nation content with individual performances rather than real team achievements.

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There are a series of well-written letters written in typically British style. The letters convey real compassion with wry humour. Unfortunately the words can’t be read very well in this picture:

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This is a wax statue of an M.C.C. member seeing the match whilst nursing a glass of cider. He’s wearing a typical straw boater with the red and gold M.C.C. ribbon and the club tie.P1040263.JPG

A University match was going on today so we could see some real members too.

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Membership is rather reasonably priced at 700 pounds and saves you money on ticket seats. However the waiting list is a little over 29 years!

We next went to the actual stands and saw a few overs of the University match:

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This is the historic pavilion. The balcony on the far right is where Sourav Ganguly famously took off his shirt and brandished it in the air.

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These are barrels of cider/beer for the thirsty spectators.

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If you’re wondering who lifts them, the answer is nobody. Forklifts are used to move them where required:

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This small ground is diametrically opposite to the main pavilion. Centuries ago it was a horticultural nursery. Today it is a practice ground. The term “nursery end” is derived from this ground. A Women’s University match was being held today:

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We stopped at the Lord’s tavern adjacent to the ground for lunch. The food was very English and very bland. I had to use loads of pepper to bring it to life.  Fortunately there is no dearth of vegetarian options, at least, in  London.

Our next stop was the Imperial War Museum. This is one of a collection of state-run museums open to the public. Stepping out of the nearest Tube station (Lambeth North) we had no difficulty in finding the place due to the carefully placed signboards.

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This Museum traces the role of Britain in global wars, Cold War espionage and counter-terrorism in the 20th century. The content is fabulously presented with well-lit exhibits, informative placards, interactive display screens and pertinent videos. This was easily the best museum thus far.

Again there were so many exhibitions that I can’t document everything here.  The First World War display brilliantly and simply explained the power struggles leading up to the war. There was even a carefully designed simulation of life in the trenches. First hand accounts brought out the unprecedented horrors of the Battle of Somme on both sides.

What I was really looking forward to was the World War Two display of ” A Family in Wartime.”P1040292

This exhibition presents an in-depth study of a real family which survived the war in London, the Allpresses. This included screen displays of their house and even individual rooms, lengthy sound recordings by the Allpresses themselves and even clips of contemporaneous motion pictures.

This is an Andersen shelter. Over 2.3 million of these were delivered to households as air-raid shelters. The top was packed with thick damp earth on which vegetables were usually grown. The Allpresses grew flowers.

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Clothes and food rationing meant the women of the house had to spend considerable time and energy to see that clothes were in good repair and food was not wasted. “Make do and mend” was the popular war slogan at the time.

Government flyer on children’s clothes:

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This is the famous Rolls Royce Merlin engine. It was used in both the Spitfire and the Hurricane. It was greatly admired by all who worked with it.

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This is a 2000 pound sea torpedo which was the standard bomb for civilian bombings in Britain.

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Probably the most moving exhibition was the one on the Holocaust. Photography was prohibited so I’ve no pictures to show here. It began with a systematic enunciation of the causes of hatred and bigotry towards Jews first on religious lines and later due to race. Later we saw a detailed miniature display of the concentration camp at Auschwitz. There was something pathetically poignant about the snow-clad tiny figures scurrying underground into the gas-chambers.

 

Once we got out of the Museum we spent some time in the delightful park outside the museum. Although it was windy, the sun was shining brightly.

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