When the sun began to set, London took on a new look and gave me some new experiences. I had lingered too long at Trafalgar Square late in the day and was making my way back toward Buckingham Palace over a half mile away.
I followed the tree-lined street of The Mall not really knowing what I was passing. I selected my first stop along the way because I responded to the invitation for “free admission” at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) and it really wasn’t all that late. This break exposed me to Šuillakku, an exhibition by Italian artist Roberto Cuoghi. According to the information at the ICA, Cuoghi spent two years immersed in the language, rituals, and superstitions of the ancient Assyrians to create a sound installation. He created music, voices and other sounds suggesting an imaginative journey back to Mesopotamia in the seventh century BC. After my brief exposure to this exhibition, I made a quick return to the present century. I continued on my walk enjoying the comfortable sounds of taxis, cars, jets, and passing groups of tourists versus the ram’s horn, lutes, elephant bell, and other Assyrian recreations.
Next, a cluster of tourists snapping photos caught my attention. I discovered they were posing for photos with two armed guards. “What are they guarding?”I asked. The place happened to be St. James’s Palace, the Royal residence of Prince Charles. Through the gate I could see the magnificent palace illuminated by lantern-like lights. The guards carried threatening guns yet seemed positioned at their sentry more for the enjoyment of tourists who edged close for souvenir photos. Intermittently, the guards would march stiff legged with the gun slung over their shoulders then return to stand for more photos.
Eventually, I crossed to the Queen Victoria Memorial. Here I paused to ponder on my own thoughts reflected in the tribute to Victoria: Truth, Motherhood, and Justice.
From the Memorial, Buckingham Palace looked aglow. Moonlight gave the royal residence and inviting look, an enchantment reserved for fairy tales and royalty.
November 8, 2009