Juicy Culture

It’s sucking you in…you can’t resist…the vortex has you…

Ok, so here’s the story. We book a family holiday abroad; the final holiday we’ll probably ever do together, since I am now technically an adult and my brother is now technically too cool. Then my father buys a new mobile phone, a process which apparently nowadays requires you to show your passport, because fraudulently buying a mobile phone is akin to the bootleg alcohol trade in the times of prohibition. He then ostensibly throws the passport into the wind or drops it into an eddying river or ties it to the leg of a dog or SOMETHING which means that the passport is lost. He then has to work for the week leading up to the holiday and as the only person at home I am given the unenviable position of Passport Looker-Forer, a task which involves reaming the house from top to bottom including sifting through enormous boxes of paper recycling and checking the pockets of about thirty pairs of beige chinos. This labour establishes that the passport is not just lost but Lost, and is not coming back – FYI, if your passport is found and handed in at the police station the police will send it straight to IPS without noting the name on the passport, and IPS will then automatically cancel and destroy the passport without telling you, and you are not allowed to find out whether or not this process has indeed happened or not. The passport’s absence confirmed, the final family holiday takes place sans Father and his presence is sorely missed. The Father then books a big special holiday for Mother and Father to walk along the Great Wall of China. In four weeks’ time.

Yet the passport is still lost. And so begins the arduous process of getting an emergency speedy passport replacement, something that involves an appointment at the central bureau in London as well as a fee so hefty you’d think they would make the passport out of gold. And that brings us to this weekend, when my dad had to go to London for this appointment and invited me along for funsies. I now suspect that he rather invited me to help him navigate the trains, as he is a rich boarding school boy and never really had to lurch about on public transport like the rest of us. I helped him buy his ticket, which he of course promptly folded into a newspaper which he then put back onto the shelf and so we boarded the train without a ticket. SIGH. 

Anyway, after I had talked him through the lost ticket process – only marginally less complicated than the lost passport process – he went off to his appointment and left me to my own devices in London. I thought I’d drop by the V&A.

If you haven’t yet visited the V&A museum,  or you simply want to feed your eyes with glorious things, I urge you to go. It is brilliant, a vast and eclectic collection of artisanal artifacts from all of history; there are the usual Greek statues, but alongside those are real examples of Victorian gowns, fabric preserved from ancient Egypt, cutlery from kings’ tables… Being me, of course, I gravitated straight to the jewellery section. Wait, don’t flick over to Facebook yet! It is one of the most awe-inspiring little rooms you will ever visit.

At the start of the exhibit is a fiery glittering spiral which, on closer inspection, is composed of hundreds of gorgeous gold rings each grasping a huge and blazing gemstone arranged in the order of the colour spectrum, the reds spiralling out into the blues. Even my dad wanted to see this when I told him about it and was impressed; this is a man who falls asleep within the first three minutes of every film unless someone immediately begins a car chase. I have to be lame with my choice of words here, but: oh my god, you guys, this damn thing is amazing. The gemstones are so gorgeous, like tiny blazing lightbulbs encased in richly coloured ice cubes. They are the reason for my love of jewellery: gemstones happen by complete accident but they are the quintessence of colour and light and liquid intensity. 

After the rings there is a timeline of jewellery design from the present to right in the past, and although the cool grey cast-iron jewellery from the Victorian era and the gorgeous golden granulated stuff from Egypt (which is so complicated and intricate that they still can’t figure out how it was made) the contemporary stuff is by far the wildest. That thing in the photo is an acrylic cast of a romanesco CAULIFLOWER – which, by the way, I urge you to eat just once in your life for the sheer pleasure of knowing that you are eating a fractal – mounted on a silver plate, just as a show piece, for the sheer hell of it. There was a belt buckle that was a row of Jack Russell terriers lined up standing straight, wearing hand-crocheted tiny football uniforms, and a necklace made of bits of old crack pipe. There was a diamond pendant that was completely encased in concrete to make a point about something deep and meaningful. I would have taken photos of all of these and more if it weren’t for the fascistic no-photography rule, so you’ll just have to visit the place and see for yourself, but whether you are a jewellery fan or have no interest whatsoever in whores and their trinkets, this will make your eyes bulge even just a tad.

If anything, the Victorian gold skull brooch will get you. It had to be hooked up to a tiny battery in the jacket breast pocket and then the jaw would chatter and the tiny eyeballs swivel in their sockets. What could be more debonair? 

Rose T

Jill of all trades: writer, illustrator, designer, editor, web designer, craft maniac

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