Wednesday 16 September

A very exciting day, a visit to the recently re-opened British Museum. I have spent a great deal of time there in the past, researching Mesopotamian lyres and cuneiform tablets, and as a member, I have visited all the major blockbuster exhibitions many times. It was a cruel blow that it was closed for 6 months. Even now, the visit is very restricted, with timed entry. This is the usually thronging Great Hall entrance.

There is a one way route through parts of the ground floor. No access to the first floor with Mesopotamia, or the Egyptian mummies. I have never seen the Rosetta stone with so few people in front of it. Normally they are about 10 deep.

I suppose to put a positive gloss on this, it was the opportunity to get up close and personal with many exhibits which are frequently overcrowded. I have to confess that I have not spent a huge amount of time in the Egyptian sculpture section and was able to see in detail some amazing carvings. This was a large false portal:

On it was very intricate carving: I was very fascinated by the detail on the face here. It is about the size of a postage stamp.

I really love the Assyrian exhibits on the ground floor, but the famous lion hunt was closed off. It is a shade irritating to be told what you can and cannot see in a museum, but I guess they tried to focus on the highlights like the Rosetta stone and the Parthenon marbles.

This is a massive Assyrian relief. He appears to be holding a pine cone, and a handbag, which is in fact believed to be a bucket of water, and the cone is used to sprinkle a watery blessing on the worshippers.

There was plenty to see really, and the bookshop and the cafe were open, though doing very little business. My favourite cafe across the road from the museum seems to have closed down permanently which is scarcely surprising, given the lack of tourists. However the trains and tube were more busy than the last time I was in London. Some people do seem to be returning to the office. But wearing a mask for an extended period remains an aggravation. I get very hot and feel I want to blow my nose, and it sends everyone into a paroxysm if I sneeze, but it is really only the mask material causing a tickle.

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