As discussed previously, I am not London’s biggest fan. It is big, complex and filled with rush and noise and general unpleasantness. For the first time ever, however, I am actually looking forward to going, as I am next week as part of a wider trip back to Cambridge.
The reasons are twofold. The first is that I have some new places to discover. I hold to the belief that cities are best discovered on foot and I have been given some cracking suggestions of places to walk near the Strand, which I will happily take up, not only out of politeness but because recommendations when given freely and sincerely are the best ones to follow.
The second reason is a rather shocking one. I have decided to give the British Museum a miss this time. Given that every time I have been in London I have made the BM a prominent part of my visit, this is astonishing but to be honest I have other places I would like to see more. Like in a football squad, day trips benefit from a sort of rotation. If the same places keep cropping up, they begin to feel stale and it becomes less enjoyable. So, instead I am going to the Science Museum, which I have never been to before, inspired by watching a documentary this morning on Ada Lovelace, a very early computer programmer. By early, I mean Victorian. The documentary talked about Charles Babbage, a mentor of and collaborator with Ada Lovelace, and his difference engine, which is on display in the Science Museum.
Rather wonderfully, the Science Museum has an exhibition about Ada Lovelace at the moment, along with another about Russian cosmonauts, which should be good too.
My knowledge of science is woefully limited, little snippets from school interspersed with other things I have read. I know a little about evolution and Charles Darwin, a bit about geology since where I grew up is geologically significant and a smidgen about electronics since I have a Higher in Computing. The Science Museum might be a major step into the unknown for me but for a couple of other factors. At the moment, I am studying for an Open University degree in history. One of my course books made quite a profound point the other week, talking about when reaching into a new subject, it is well worth starting with what you know about it already and building on that. Also, as an autistic person, I am beginning to know my limits in handling some situations. Being a seasoned museum visitor, I should be able to gauge when I have seen enough. Research helps, being able to focus my energies on some aspects and seeing what else I can do from there.
The documentary about Ada Lovelace also talked about Alan Turing, who found similarities between his thinking and that of Lovelace in his work during World War II. Alan Turing seems to have become a common feature of my holidays. When I visited Manchester last summer, I found a memorial to him in the Gay Village, a bench with a statue upon it, commemorating this scientist and his tragic end. In Cambridge, meanwhile, I found a plaque to his memory on Trumpington Street near King’s College. I wouldn’t be surprised if Turing appears somewhere this time too. Sometimes, there are connections when you least expect them.
So, that’s the plan. Cambridge will take care of itself. London isn’t frightening this time. I really am looking forward to seeing what I can find, making some sort of vague sense of the vast metropolis, I hope, as I walk and ponder.