Superheroes at The Natural History Museum

Today we learn the irony of the Extinction Rebellion demonstration in London disrupting the SuperHeroes who are expanding their quest for knowledge of the climate when they visit the Natural History Museum.

Last night the littlest SuperHero was trying on different outfits, would he be Spiderman or there’s a chance of Scott Tracey or even Kylo Ren himself. Today though they are both incognito and look like two junior school children but the reality, of course, is they’re here to save the Universe.

We’re at Orpington Station and Zip cards have been handed to the SuperHeroes ready to negotiate the gates whilst I‘m impressing the ticket guy with my Apple Watch payment and with a flick of my wrist and a SuperHero touch we’re on to the platform. 

The SuperHeroes are exercising their training and stand against the wall surveying the platform for bad guys. Most of the people milling around look like businessmen but the SuperHeroes trust no-one. They’re carrying ionic scanners that are even better than x-ray machines at seeing through solids. To the rest of the commuters they look like rolled up comics but we know different and eventually, the briefcases, bags and rucksacks are proclaimed free from ‘dodgy devices’! 

As the train draws into the station the whole area is declared a safe zone and we board the carriage taking a seat near the front.

We’re sitting near a circular device with a sliding door activated by buttons appropriately marked “Door Open” and “Door Shut”. Inside it could easily be mistaken for a lavatory complete with throne, sink and toilet roll holder. It even has a working flush mechanism to complete the illusion.

I explain to the SuperHeroes that this is a launch mechanism for a capsule-shaped space exploration vehicle and it’s actually primed and ready to go. Just as I’m detailing the working parts a passenger from the further down the carriage presses the “Door Open” button and the semi-circular barrier acting as a door makes a ‘swissssh’ sound, a bit like a wagon with air brakes but not as loud, and the unit slides silently to the left revealing all of the working parts. I counsel the SuperHeroes that if this passenger is a serious space traveller then the door will close and when re-opened there’ll be no-one there and they go on to full alert and watch the door with professional interest; however, in this case, he’s a normal human and within a couple of minutes the door ‘swishes’ again he steps out rubbing his hands.

SuperZak announces that he needs the toilet. It’s code of course and I explain to him that he needs to take care that he only presses or pulls certain buttons and ropes and that under no circumstances should he pull the one that is coloured red and marked for emergencies and he nods. I ask him where he’s going and he replies, “The Milky Way” and when I ask why? the answer is, “For a ride out”. 

I tell him that it’s quite a long way and under normal circumstances he would need a sandwich but today he could use hyperdrive using the ‘Door Lock’ lever then, when he’d finished, he could return by placing it in its original position followed by a press of the ‘Door Open’ button to release the airlock and he’d be back.

I ask if all this is OK and he nods and presses the ‘Door Open’ button and smiles in satisfaction as the door, errr, I mean airlock does its robotic ‘swish’. I wish him bon voyage and the airlock swishes shut. The train is chattering through some points now and swaying from side to side and I’m thinking that this may be messy; however, within a couple of minutes the door does its swishing noise and the inside is revealed without spillage.

“How was the journey?”, I ask
.“Oh, it was good”, was the positive reply.
“…and the Milky Way?”, I respond.
“Oh, it was white and I didn’t need my sandwich”

SuperHarry is getting quite excited and pointing out “The Shard” on one side then “St Pauls” on the other. The Guard announces London Bridge as the next station and he tells me they’ve been here before and adds that the river comes next, he’s quite a traveller and extremely observant needing only to be told something once, he’ll memorise it ready for re-use in a heartbeat.

We alight at Charing Cross and scoot down Villiers Street to Embankment for the underground as instructed by the SuperHeroes SuperMum who’d been at the briefing as the outing was planned.

The SuperHeroes trigger the gates with their Zip cards and I follow with my watch, quite the technologists we three. We’re just in time for the tube and five stops later we alight at South Kensington and a couple of long, wide corridors later we return to the sunshine of the day near the museums.

There’s a minute or two of orientation and the SuperHeroes check the area for bad guys! None found so we head towards the Natural History Museum only a few minutes away.

It’s still only 1030 so the queues are minimal and we’re waved through security as the staff recognise the SuperHeroes and breath a sigh of relief as they realise that today would be ‘safe’.

The Natural History Museum is a wonderful ‘free’ resource and we spend nearly three hours walking, wobbling, shaking, hearing, sniffing, seeing and feeling our way through the exhibits most of which we are encouraged to touch.

We see dinosaurs, whales, birds (large and small), experience an earth tremor, and see the Universe all in three hours then descend to the picnic area to eat the provisions carefully packed for us by SuperMum Vicky. 

I ask about the best parts and the high spots for SuperZak were earthquake and picnic but not necessarily in that order and for SuperHarry, earthquake and gemstones but he does like ‘all of it’.

We’re out in the sun again now and the SuperHeroes are practising their escape by sitting on some Boris Bikes. They are tethered to stands like cowboys horses but ready for immediate action on presentation of the appropriate fee.

The SuperHeroes have requested a bus journey for part of the way back in an effort to ensure that ‘London – above ground’ is safe so we need to walk to Knightsbridge where Harrods is currently peeping out from under its temporary hijab as building and renovation work is carried out underneath. This is lost on the SuperHeroes who neither know of Harrods nor care to go in, so we don’t. 

We eventually find the bus stop ‘KH” and wait for the number 9 but traffic is at a standstill so I tell the boys what bus we need and ask them to look out for it to give them something to do. We’re overheard by a helpful German lady who informs us of a huge demonstration taking place on this bus route. It means the number 9 is diverted until mid-afternoon, if we’re lucky. I express our gratitude and suggest to the boys that we go by tube. This is met with an element of disappointment so replanning becomes necessary and I suggest we move back to Knightsbridge where we’ll be back in the sun; I get nods of approval.

It’s nice in the sunshine but I’m lurking in the shadow of the bus shelter so that I can see my ‘phone screen. The Transport for London (TfL) website is telling me to go to bus stop ‘KD” and catch a C1 bus to Victoria. So, I peer at the map pinned to the shelter wall and look for where I need to go – Bingo – this stop is ‘KD’ and not only that, there’s the C1 making its way towards us, it’s coming in fits and starts as the bus lane clears but within a couple of minutes we’re on board and seated.

The SuperHeroes are clearly happy and already checking out the bus and all of the surrounding streets for shadowy figures and when none are found they start to discuss the merits of the two ‘gem’ stones that they’d bought at the Museum. Apparently, one of them is lodestone and magnetic and is being tested on any surface that is ferrous (and non-ferrous for that matter, but it doesn’t stick) and the other one is very shiny, smooth and green. They cost a pound and necessitated joining a queue that zigzagged to six tills without the aid of a Granddad.

At Victoria Station, the SuperHeroes spot a mug that would be a great present for SuperMum so another pound is produced to affect the purchase and questions asked as to why it is being wrapped in a magazine and newspaper?

We arrive at the huge screens in Victoria station looking for evidence of a train to Orpington and after a couple of false starts due to the weird way that they’re displayed (by Train Company, not time) we find one leaving in twenty minutes which means there’s just enough time to purchase a giant sausage roll for the little Superhero and a raspberry croissant for the bigger one. I don’t bother getting anything for myself fully expecting to eat the remaining half of the giant one currently being nursed by SuperZak… This is a mistake!

They exercise momentous self-control and no bites are taken until we’re settled on the train, I’m impressed as I would certainly have had at least half of both of these treats down my neck before they cooled down.

The return journey to Orpington is through Brixton and Penge both of which I’ve visited or heard of and various other places that, until today, were just a spot on the map.

All’s quiet and I can only put it down to the fact that the SuperHeroes have been out and about and the bad guys have kept a low profile.

The cherry trees on The Drive are in full bloom and the pink confetti is framed by a sky unbroken blue as we return to pick up the SuperHeroMobile and I reflect on what a lucky man I am as I return my precious cargo to their lair and think about SuperHarley, the tiniest SuperHero, currently protecting the North.

Enjoy the snaps. Love G…x

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