So we were wandering through yet another London museum, and by now you’d think we’d seen them all, but apparently London museums are almost literally limitless in number. I suspect that when we’re not in England there’s a committee somewhere (Brits are just bonkers for committees, special committees, panels, boards and working groups), creating new museums so we’ll have something to do when we’re visiting. Well, something besides my idea, which is to conduct a comprehensive survey of pubs and fish and chip shops. Prior to our trips to London, I submit my idea of fun, Mary veto’s it, and we do museums.
So on this last trip, we only had a full day before we were to move onwards, further into the dark heart of Europe. We decided to check out the Tate Museum, which is a depository for hoary old paintings from hoary old artists like Turner, Constable, and Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger. Ah, I know what you’re thinking – you’re thinking now would be a good time to go and have a few of those Little Debbie Snack Cakes that you were saving for the kids, but what they don’t know, they won’t even miss. Go ahead – treat yourself, you deserve it. If you have to justify it, think about the fact that you’re saving the children from a lifelong addiction to sweets, which inevitably lead to obesity, diabetes and eventually confinement to one of those motorized scooter thingys. When you look at that way, you’re a blooming hero! Oh, it wasn’t the snack cakes? Well, if your question is who is Marcus Gheeraert the Senior or Older I can’t help you. I don’t even know who the Younger was, since the only reason he came to our attention is that he painted this.
Yes, this is why we go to art museums. I mean, yes, it’s true that if it were left up to me, all museums we visit would be filled with lots of swords and exotic firearms and big planes. Mary feels, rightly, that I need a little of the old civilizing influences so I go to art museums, and then afterward we can go to the pub and have pint while we discuss why the man in the aforementioned painting is not wearing any pants. Sometimes, like in the case of Captain Thomas Lee we manage to have several pints, while we thrash out his pantslessness.
According to online references and the little note placard next to the painting in the museum, Capt. Lee is wearing the dress of an Irish light infantryman from Medieval times. It’s certainly apparent why they were called ‘light’ infantry, as when you’re going without pants, you’re travelling pretty light. Might I point out though, that Ireland is frequently cold, often rainy, and almost always both, and going without trou is either a sign of great personal hardiness, or just a touch of the insane. So that old saw about ‘mad dogs and Englishmen’, well you have a better idea now how they acquired that particular moniker.