What a wonderful ‘the wife’ I have! My 40th birthday was 3 months ago and we’ve only just finished celebrating. ‘The wife’ is good at these kinds of things and last night was the final cherry on the top. Humankind has for millennia pondered on the big questions in life and none looms larger than: how can we possibly combine our search for knowledge with regards to dinosaurs AND quench our thirst for sleeping in an enclosed space next to hundreds of strangers? The answer, dear reader, is Dino-snores at The Natural History Museum (NHM), and we’ve just done it. I would never have dreamt something like this up, let alone thought someone else would; but then I don’t need to because I married someone who sorts these kinds of things out without breaking sweat. Top job ‘the wife’.
The basic deal is as follows:
1. Pitch up at NHM.
2. Check in and find a space to sleep in the main hall with the big dinosaur skeleton.
3. Eat a 3 course meal.
4. Go to a few ‘events’.
5. Wander around the galleries at your leisure.
7. Stop sleeping.
8. Have breakfast.
9. Fuck off before the next punters arrive.
Simple really and in the company of Mrs H it was all well worth while BUT (and it’s not just me) you may be interested in a more rounded review from your very level-headed and rational tour guide: me. Let’s look at numbers 1 to 9 again.
1. Good start until we popped into ‘Jane’s Bar’ near ‘Sow Ken’ station. When a small beer and a smaller G’n’T costs 14 quid you know you must look like a tourist. We were then subjected to a ‘chat’ with a lady in leather trousers who didn’t seem to realise that conversations are meant to go more than one way. She was perfectly friendly and harmless but…oh you know. Arrived outside NHM to find large queue building rapidly up into much larger queue. Worrying for a timid little vole like me.
2. As we crept in our bags were searched and then we were given wafer thin camping mats and told to find a space anywhere within the lined areas (denoted by lines of masking tape so wonky they can only have been applied by someone with appalling eyesight, using their toes). Very early on it became apparent that NHM had decided to dispense with comfort and just cram as many customers into their entry hall as was spatially and mathematically possible. Pity the last in the queue, who anxiously fumbled around looking for spaces that simply did not exist. I wasn’t in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit so I have never been forced to relocate to a church hall with hundreds of others but the scene must have come close. Still, we got a drinks voucher so that’s ok and it started to make up for all the walking past twats in dinosaur onesies.
3. Our 3 course meal on big communal tables for maybe 200+ was surprisingly efficient and very, very tasty. Brownie point. Unfortunately our immediate table mates were roughly as engaging as a carrier bag full of broccoli. I’m never great at breaking ice but we did make an effort, several times, but to know avail. I suppose in the end they just couldn’t be bothered so I don’t care what their names are, where they met, what they do for a living or indeed if they’re still alive. Ta-ra.
4. We were clubbed with Mr and Mrs Charmless and about 70 others into ‘Jurassic Team’ (precisely as bad as it sounds) and off we went to ‘event’ #1 which was a science lecture and infinitely superior to some kind of role play fuck-wittery/lets all bond crap that can happen at these things. We learned from a charming science lady that limpets have the largest penis by ratio than any other living organism and that male ducks have corkscrew penises, which must be handy when Mr Duck forgets to pick up a screw cap Chablis. It was fun. It was fucking hot too and without a chilled beverage my clothes felt like they were on fire by the time we left. This was followed by a ‘comedian’ talking about the ugliest animals in the, er, animal kingdom and more generally about how we’re all such a bunch of bastards for killing off so many little creatures. He was half funny in the kind of way that John Bishop makes money from making people laugh without actually being funny. The final ‘event’ was a talk about gin. By this stage most people were parched and achy-legged in a way that only museums can deliver, and I suspect most of ‘Jurassic Team’ spent the whole talk thinking ‘where’s the gin, where’s the gin?’. 15 minutes on gin history by a smoothie at Sipsmith’s and 15 more from a well meaning but rather manic Eastern European botanist only stretched the torture. The final lunge for the samples table at the end was a scene rarely encountered outside of wartime bread lines.
5. Wandering around galleries at your leisure is measurably less leisurely when you’ve already been force marched round once already, with a group of people you’ve already taken as much dislike to as they have to you. That said there is a certain charm and exclusivity to looking at a collection of stuffed animals when most people are just settling into bed. I’m sure if all the lions and tigers and bears that had had their balls blown off for the sake of taxidermy knew then that they would bring joy to so many they would consider their tactless demise something of an honour, rather than a sacrifice. Though I’m guessing there, obviously.
6. As people drifted towards their sleeping bags (ours were brand new that morning and able to offer comfort in -2 degrees and below, which was handy since I still felt like a volcano) a young lady in a dinosaur onesie (seriously) gently strummed out the hits of Coldplay and Robbie Williams on a harp (again, seriously) pausing only between songs to let me drift off to the land of nod before starting a new song and therefore sparking the cycle of sleep loss that ensued. Sleep was also hindered by the sheer, granite solidity of the floor and the slender nature of the tripled up camping mats which is why…….
7. …….stopping sleeping was one of the easiest things I have ever done. Made almost too easy by the lank haired, pencil thin dribble of cold semen on the mat next to me spraying his clammy armpits with deodorant roughly 3 inches from my face. I would go on but oooooh, you wouldn’t like the language!
8. Breakfast was ok but there was definitely an element of ‘well, you’ve paid your money, here’s a big plate of food, now fuck off before the next punters arrive’.
9. We fucked off before the next punters arrived.
Having had about 8 minutes sleep between us we’ve been understandably clapped out all day but, frankly, it was well worth it. You would probably only do it once, and given the cost (I’m not supposed to know, but I do) you’d probably not want to fork out twice. If you like dinosaurs then go. If you like museums then go. If you’re a raging sociopath with a personal space issue then maybe think twice. What you’ll never have is my ‘the wife’ to book it and go with you. She is quite unique and if I had to single out a highlight for Dino-snores at The Natural History Museum she’d be it. By quite some distance. Cheers squirrel!
G B Hewitt. 22.10.2016
Ps, booze expensive but then it’s London, big wow.