The Ruffled Crow

Animation, Art, and Other Shiny Things

The Heat Is On

It’s rather warm here in London – 81F today. Here we were expecting low 70s at best for our stay and it only looks like it will get hotter tomorrow before cooling off for the weekend.

In any event, it was a packed day for Mrs Crow and me and we really only went to two places.

First off we bussed over to Clerkenwell near Red Lion Square Gardens to Novelty Automation. When investigating our trip, the place looked interesting and a bit fun. Boy was I right on the latter!

It’s a small space with several automated games. These are not your ordinary games, but ones designed and created by a couple of wonderfully twisted minds. Hand made, they are often surprising in odd and funny ways. I won’t give away the surprises, but I found myself laughing through the entire time we were there. They run on tokens you purchase at the register and the games include loading a nuclear reactor with fuel rods, a two-player divorce game where you pull apart a house (Mrs Crow won that one) an Alien Probe where you probe the alien, a ‘relaxing’ get-away easy chair, a frisking machine, a battle of nerves with an attack dog, bicycle pong (where you cycle backwards and forwards to move the paddles), and my favorite, an altered pachinko game rigged as a Hadron Collider where I won an official embossed Nobel Prize.

My Nobel Prize. Embossed on real metal!

At least I think it’s official, she embossed it right in front of me. When you’ve collided enough hadrons, you take the balls up to the counter (and get any awards you deserve) and load the balls into a small hopper on the counter, hold a switch, and the balls travel via a conduit across the ceiling and back into the game. Almost as fun as the game.

After a quick lunch we wended our way to the British Museum. While they weren’t terribly impressed with my embossed Nobel Prize, they did have an amazing collection. Being one of the premier museums on earth, we kind of expected that, but it was awe inspiring none-the-less. Since we’d burned a bit of day at Novelty Automation (and a bit of shopping) we only had about two hours and spent most of it in the China exhibits on the third floor. I have a thing for Chinese art and I was like a kid in a… well, Novelty Automation arcade.

The Queen of the Night from the Babylonian Period. Recognize her? Her image was one of the ladies performing in the music video You Gotta Believe (Pointer Sisters song) I posted in late November last year.

On the way out we also spent far too much money at the gift shop that rings the central structure in the Great Court. It’s a circular shop with a couple cashier stations along the way. Had we kept walking the circle we undoubtedly would’ve just kept picking up new things on each circuit. Fortunately Mrs Crow directed me to a cashier early along or I would’ve just kept going. Money well spent, methinks.

The British Museum is one of those places like the Smithsonian where you really need to allot several days to it to do it justice. It’s huge, awe inspiring, and well worth any time you can cadge for it.

Impressions after Day Two: To drivers, the lines on the road are merely suggestions.

Fire hydrants are underground.

The ground floor of a building is floor zero.

You must describe your coffee, and even when you ask for a ‘long black’, it might be instant.

Some trucks and busses tell you when they’re turning left.

Contactless payments using ‘wallets’ on your NFC-enabled phone is ubiquitous, except, of course, at the British Museum.

Well, another day tomorrow. I think we’ll go count the holes at Royal Albert Hall.

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