May 20, 2007

London: end of a holiday

The final part of our trip saw us resting up in London after a quite hectic short European tour. All that family stuff and historical detours took it out on us so it was time to relax on the last days before we fly back to New Zealand. There were some items still to be ticked off: the New Zealand war memorial in Hyde Park Corner, which looks better up close than from the vehicles on the roundabout, where you can get only an impressionist glimpse. The dozen steel girders sticking out of the ground look like massive arrows which were fired from Kensington Palace aimed at the Duke of Wellington statue and narrowly missed. But it's the detailing on the individual girders which tell quite a broad story of New Zealand, not just about war and commemoration as the British version does in Whitehall ("To The Glorious Dead")
Then off to the Imperial War Museum to check out the World War I coverage, mainly to compare it to the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ieper which we visited earlier, and my hunch was confirmed that the London version of events was far more jingoistic. It wasn't really surprising since the museum really glorifies all the wars Britain has been in in the past, the name of the venue giving a large clue, instead of being a museum about the concept of war through the ages, illuminating the atrocious nature of human conflict. And this despite having German world war artifacts too.

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