Monthly Archives: June 2013

First off the starting blocks is The Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret.

It’s a ridiculously cool place – you have to climb a rickety winding staircase to get to it.

Really interestingly, the site had been untouched for nearly 100 years, until it was discovered in 1962 by a curious fellow who asked the question ‘where does that door up there actually go?!’
After getting a ladder and having a look, he found the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret – untouched and unconverted.

The staircase was partially rebuilt to allow access, with the first stop being the herb garret – a place that was used to dry out herbs for use in medicine.
Garret’s just another word for attic, but it sounds so much cooler – like a funk singer’s first name… ‘Herb Garret Harris’ perhaps.

The entire place is full of wonderful curiosities.

On a wall, they’d presented the ‘Resolutions passed for the good of the house’ – which I love. I think you could have ‘Resolutions passed for the good of the house’ for an agency. To be honest, I’m sure some of these wouldn’t even need to be adapted.
In the next room stands the Old Operating Theatre – an amazing space that would have housed surgeons, dressers and students as some poor old sod gets a limb amputated without any anesthetic.
I loved reading one quote (below) about just how enthused the students sounded – they really did want to learn. Maybe this was because it was such uncharted territory – surgery education was incredibly exciting because it was venturing into the unknown.
“Behind a second partition stood the pupils, packed like herrings in a barrel but not so quiet… The confusion and crushing was indeed at all times very great, especially when any operatoin of importance was to be performed, and I have often known even the floor so crowded that the surgeon could not operate until it had been partially cleared.” St Thomas surgeon John Flint South 1884.
The museum offered up some incredible facts – my favourites being:
#1. Most good surgeons (like Robert Liston and John Hunter) could remove a limb in around 30 seconds. The best surgeon in Europe could remove an arm in 17 seconds.
#2. Pasteur didn’t discover germs – he discovered a causal link between germs and disease. Robert Hooke (England’s Leonardo & all round polymath) was instead one of the first to discover germs – along with developing initial microscopes, telescopes, designing grid city systems and creating many of the buildings in London today.
#3. Wounds were generally sealed through one of two methods – ligatures (tying each individual artery shut with silk or cat gut) or cauterisation (dipping the limb in hot oil or even tar, to burn the wound shut.)
#4. Surgery used to be performed by barber surgeons, members of the Company of Barber Surgeons, who would also cut your hair and perform little operations too. When in 1745, master surgeons broke away from the Company of Barber Surgeons to form the Company of Surgeons – they managed to remove the monopoly barber surgeons had on teaching surgery – allowing students to finally work on corpses themselves as part of a group (rather than simply watching and learning.)
#5. John Keats trained as a apprentice Surgeon-apothecary at St Thomas between 1815-1817. He abandoned surgical practice, telling a friend ‘My last operation was completed with the utmost nicety. but reflecting on what passed through my mind at the time, my dexterity seemed a miracle, and I never took up the lancet again.’ Perhaps the most amazing thing though, was that he died at the age of 25 – having already trained as a surgeon-apothecary and writing some rather nice poetry.
1. Cartoon Museum 

2. Churchill War Rooms 
3. Cinema Museum 
4. Dennis Sever’s House 
5. Dr Johnson’s house 
6. Design Museum 
7. Down House 
8. The Geffrye Museum 
9. London Film Museum 
10. London Transport Museum 
11. Mansion House 
12. Brunel Museum 
13. Museum of the Order of St John 
14. Musical Museum 
15. Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
16. Pollock’s Toy Museum 
17. Rose Theatre exhibition 
18. Fashion and Textile Museum 
19. Royal College of Music Archives and Museum of Instruments 
20. Sherlock Holmes Museum 
21. Twinings Museum 
22. V&A Museum of Childhood 
23. Bank of England museum 
24. The Stephens Museum 

So I’m now 24.

There are quite a few things I want to do before I’m 25 – let’s see how many I can get through.

Last year, I missed the numbers game a bit, so I’ve put it back into most of the challenges this year, in one way or another.

In Canada, a toofer (like ‘two-four’) is a 24 pack of beer.
This year, I want to try 24 new beers – preferably real ale – but anything goes really.

Christopher Howse said real ale fans are just like train-spotters, only drunk.
Like a trainspotter, I’ll document and review them as I go. Providing I can remember them, that is…

24 frames a second
Well, there’s 24 frames a second in your average movie.
And I remember Dylan Williams saying that planners should try and get a strong grounding in the art of storytelling through film – as it can teach you so much about advertising, creativity and life in general.

So off the back of that, I’m going to:

1) Write a short review for 24 films (I’ll do it as I go rather than write a list, but it will be a mixture of newbies and oldies – none of which I’ve seen before.)

2) Start experimenting with film, and have something to show for it at the end of the year.

3) I might try and take a film/writers course at some point too.

24 hour Parties, people
I’ve got this idea in my head that it would be fun to fly out to a city, spend 24 hours there walking the streets then jumping on a plane back.
This year I’m going to try and do 2 of them.
After all, tourism is an adequate substitute for depth.

24 Museums
Finally, I’ve decided I’m going to visit 24 of the lesser known museums in London and review them. Everyone knows about the Science museum, the Natural History museum and the V&A. But what about Pollock’s Toy museum, or The Stephens Collection?
Hopefully I’ll also have some tasty souvenirs to show for the trouble.
I’ll also try and write down the top 5 interesting things I learn in each one.

Here’s the list:

1. Cartoon Museum
2. Churchill War Rooms
3. Cinema Museum
4. Dennis Sever’s House
5. Dr Johnson’s house
6. Design Museum
7. Down House
8. The Geffrye Museum
9. London Film Museum
10. London Transport Museum
11. Mansion House
12. Brunel Museum
13. Museum of the Order of St John
14. Musical Museum
15. Old Operating Theatre Museum & Herb Garret
16. Pollock’s Toy Museum
17. Rose Theatre exhibition
18. Fashion and Textile Museum
19. Royal College of Music Archives and Museum of Instruments
20. Sherlock Holmes Museum
21. Twinings Museum
22. V&A Museum of Childhood
23. Bank of England museum
24. The Stephens Museum


So this year’s challenges are over.
And what a year it’s been.

Complete! I’ve tasted my way through 23 ‘official’ new foods, and many more that weren’t on the list (including those bastard sweet breads.)

1. Jellied Eels
2. Pig Cheeks
3. Sweet Meats (and Sweet Breads)
4. Bubble tea
5. Dried Insects
6. Quails egg
7. Creme de menthe
8. Frogs legs
9. Snails
10. Kangaroo
11. Nettle tea
12. Oysters
13. Steak Tartare
14. Dandelion Wine
15. Gazpacho
16. Pea Soup
17. Root beer float
18. Gnocchi
19. Ox Heart
20. Squirrel
21. Spotted Dick
22. Souffle
23. Kumquat

Mixed… Adramble didn’t go quite so well.
I’ve certainly paced the streets more, and I got the whole thing online but I haven’t thrown all of my effort into getting it off the ground. I’m not sure whether I will this year, but perhaps.

Take more photos
Yes sir! I certainly have taken more photos, mostly thanks to the new phone.
I’ve saved my favourite 23 here.

Take a first aid course
Also complete!
I’ve went on my first ever first aid course, which was great fun.
Hosted by Sally-Anne of St John – it was a right hoot. Highly recommended.
Here’s the certificate to boot:

I should probably now say that all of the above almost certainly wouldn’t have been possible without Wist’s help.
But more than that, it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun either.

And with that, I’m onto Challenge 24…

Zomby – It’s Time

Really like this track. It’s almost a bit Groove Armada in the treble, but the drum and bass tracks are underground and heavy. There’s some nice vocal samples that tides you over between sections, and some decent sci-fi sounds around 1.30 in. It’s perhaps a bit long for my liking, but I assume that’s so it can be mixed easily.

Wax Idols – Dethrone

Nice rail-ride indie music from the Wax idols. The vocals aren’t particularly to my taste, but the drums are tight, the bass thick and the guitar twangly. The chorus has touches of Bono’s wail in it, which is interesting, but overall the vocals let this track down for me.

Olivier Libaux (feat Inara George) – 04 No One Knows

Very different from anything before – a smooth jazz version of Queens of the Stone Age. Strangely it works – the percussion clave pattern fits, and the vibraphone in the middle 8 and pre verse works wonderfully. The vocals are whispy, but in a good way, and almost dance alongside the music track. If I had one gripe, it would be the incessant triangle – but there’s not too much spilt milk – nice track.

Molly Nilsson – Dear Life

The intro for this track sounds very 90s – it reminds me of kids at my old school vamping on the electric strings sound that came as standard with classroom keyboards. The track’s fast tempo, and the kick drum hits four to the floor. It’s a bit disappointing – if I’m brutally honest it sounds like something a young me (and co) used to naively put together in Dance eJay, but with half spoken/half sung vocals overlaid.

Halo Halo – Sunshine Kim

Any song called Sunshine Kim has to feature a cowbell by law, apparently. Thankfully – this one is legally compliant. It’s a mixture of folky instruments and percussion – with some questionable vocals during the verse. Once we reach the chorus – the vocals pick up form and the whole track comes together a bit more. It’s nice enough – I’d like to hear what else they’ve done to make a better assessment on the whole band.

Camera Obscura – Do it again

Really nice indie rock. The guitar intro sounds like it could feature on an episode of the Inbetweeners (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but it probably is.) The female vocals work really nicely – and the harmonies that start during the first chorus are great. There’s a synth track in the background that buzzes around, following the chord roots, which I think works really well. The guitar solo around 2.10 is simple and straight, but fits, and it fades out nicely at the end.

Tunng – The Village

Really like the intro to this track – it’s beautifully layered and there’s an interesting synth sound used. There’s a syncopated rhythm between the clapping and the backing – which sounds a bit like slap back. The chorus is interesting, with male and female vocals. It sounds fairly new and different – and the choice of instrumentation is great.

The Riot Squad – I am waiting for my man

Nice happy harmonica starts this, followed by 60s style guitar. In fact, the whole track sounds like it was recorded in the 60s. A minute ago I wrote it sounded like the vocalist had based himself upon David Bowie. It sounded so much like Bowie I had to google it. It is Bowie, in the 60s.
That explains a lot. The harmonica is probably the best bit. The brass is a bit distracting, almost annoying, but the track’s nice enough.

Iasos – Crystal Petals

Weird and glistening throughout. Sort of like whale song, if said whale was holding some wind chimes. There’s a slight crescendo about three quarters through, and a major crescendo near the end, but overall this track is twinkly incidental music that would probably sound great backing a film. But doesn’t sound so great on it’s own.

Lovett – Black Curtain (2013)

Amazing intro on this track – it sounds like it could be used in a hollywood movie. The verse sounds a bit like a Sean Lennon track I used to listen to – it’s fairly standard pop rock – but it’s nicely treated. There’s a touch of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds about it – no bad thing in my books. The chorus is interesting, and the bass and drums are tight as siblings throughout. Can’t wait to check out what else they’ve done.

Stellar Om Source – Elite Excel

Pretty electronica, but repetitive as hell – my heart sunk after the first minute when I saw it was nearly 7 minutes long. There’s some interesting thoughts in it – there’s a synth pattern around 1.15 that I like, and a sort of deconstructed bass line around 2.40 for a beat or two – but overall it’s not my bag.

Goldheart Assembly – Sad Sad Stage

Beautiful echoey drums back this huge sounding pop song. Vocals laden with chorus, strings and jumpy bass guitar – it’s a nice vintage, laid back track but unfortunately it sounds almost exactly like Guillemots. I love the Guillemots, so that’s no bad thing, but it isn’t original. Creativity is not copying, as they say. Nice track all the same.