A day off today to celebrate my mother-in-law's birthday. It's not an official public holiday, but it's a good enough excuse for me. Why did 70s comedians dislike their mum-in-laws so much. Thanks to mine I get free cake and a midweek trip to the British Museum. We went to the new exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend, which had some interesting stuff in it, but because it's a fairly new installation was crammed full of the kind of idiot nerds who like going to the British Museum (I hate those pricks). So it made it pretty hard to see anything unless you were prepared to queue and shuffle and wait for all the earnest looking buffoons to read absolutely all of the labels on everything. Didn't these selfish twits realise that I wanted to do that. Get out of my way, nerds.
The Vikings, it seems were obsessed with broaches. They couldn't get enough of them. The bigger the better. I mean some of them were big enough to be practically unwearable. They didn't have iphones back then so they way they had to compete was by upping the broach size, even if that meant that they couldn't walk. There was also a massively impressive, but also impractical gold necklace made of twisted strands of that precious metal, which weighed in at 2 kg. It must have been pretty easy to overcome the top dog in those days. You could have stabbed him and nicked his necklace before he'd even stood up. Though then of course someone would stab you. A little bit of the gold had been twisted off and stolen. Or maybe the bloke who wore it had just gone out without his wallet, been unable to pay for his meal and just unwound a bit of his necklace and said, "Keep the change".
The Vikings don't blow me away like the Romans do, but there's plenty of stuff worth seeing. My favourite thing (and one of my favourite ever archaelogical finds) are the Lewis Chessmen. Even though I am not a massive fan of chess I have long coveted the reproduction boards you can get using these figures, but they're really expensive and our cats would batter them to Hell. So today I contented myself with stealing one of them from the display. Not really, I bought a copy of the King from the gift shop. He can stare down at me with his Noggin the Nog face as I work at my desk.
The Vikings were not always victorious and a boat load of them were beheaded near Weymouth about a 1000 years ago. But their prize is that their skellingtons and skulls are part of the exhibition. As you probably know I have long coveted such a place in the museum (though I'd prefer to be a bog body than just a decapitated head), so although they lost out in the short term, these dead vikings are still heralded 1000 years later, whilst the Somerset men who chopped them up are all forgotten. It's a Pyrrhic victory.
Afterwards we dined at the OXO tower with a beautiful view of the sun setting over the Thames. We were able to regale my in-laws with all the stories we'd learned on our bus ride. Best twenty-eight quid I ever spent.
A change of line-up for Monday, due to a mix up with timings. Harry Shearer will still be my guest, but he will be joined by Susan Calman, as Victoria Coren is now not available (it was my bad, and she will be back in the autumn instead). Book tickets here.
Don't forget we're recording episode 4 of Meaning of Life on Sunday. It's only a tenner! Book here.
And for RHLSTP video and audio subscribers the Helen and Olly podcast is now up at gofasterstripe.com. Only £15 for 12 podcasts in video and audio or only £6 for just the audio. Or you can buy individual episodes. Please support us if you can! Here's a little taster. The free versions should be up on Friday.