The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Mr Churchill Says

Visited the Cabinet War Rooms on Friday. They’re extremely difficult to find, the entrance being hidden away near St James’ Park, but they’re well worth tracking down. Apparently – and I’m not an expert here – we had some sort of major falling-out with Germany a while back, which blew up into this whole big dramatic fracas and people died. I’m surprised we don’t hear more about it; it would make a really interesting subject for a film.

The main disappointment is that you don’t get to see the lower levels, with the low ceilings and sleeping quarters and that special room where people would go if they wanted to straighten up. They’re closed to the public, I think some of them are flooded. But you do get to see the room where Churchill hobnobbed on the transatlantic telephone, the room where he did his speeches, the room where he had meetings. It’s all as it was the day war ended; even down to the positions of the armies on the wall-maps.

Oddly, it’s not remotely claustrophobic. The corridors are quite narrow, and obviously there are no windows, but the ceilings are high and the rooms are spacious. The main discomfort would seem to be from all the cigarette smoke.

There’s also a Churchill museum, which offered too much information for me to take in. It’s also one of those museums where everything is gloomy and spot-lit and where there are loud tape recordings on loops – basically, they’re doing everything they can to give you a migraine. I don’t know why they can’t light these places properly. It’s as if they’re trying to make it look like CSI.

Other weird thing. I could be wrong, but I swear the guy doing the audio guide was the narrator from Look Around You.

more pics on flickr

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