Can you pickle M&Ms?

Well I just witnessed the most disgusting vision I’ve seen all day. This comment would be baseless without mentioning that today’s macabre delights have involved pickled foetuses, mummified corpses and the aftermath of London’s strangely inefficient toilet flushes (I swear, every second time I go to the bathroom it takes three or more flushes to vanquish everything. My record is seven. I don’t know if this is a reflection on my lack of good fibre intake, or if someone has been surreptitiously spiking my food with fizzy lifting drink, cause I’ve had some floaters).

It’s not the first time I’ve beheld such horrors, but no matter how many times I do, it’s no easier to stomach. Toronto has one, New York certainly has one and London is no exception. I found tourist Eden. I found Leicester Square. Lights and crowds everywhere. Garish displays and ostentatious presentations from costumed performers. Why the fuck would an M&Ms store be something people would willingly support? It’s an ugly turgid monolith of an advertisement. A fluorescent eyesore. It’s brand idolatry taken to a farcical extent. Come in, follow the colourful lights like a siren song towards price-jacked products you could easily find elsewhere. Especially in a city with such rich history as London, what are you doing pimping out your city centre with a foreign brand? It’s a shamelessly whitewashed affront to a great city’s heritage. Fuck the M&Ms store and everything it stands for. Mouth melting motherfuckers.

On the other hand, the rest of my day has been fantastic. After washing a pile of clothes, sheepishly doing my own indoor workout to keep active (as the downstairs tenants likely wondered who upstairs was wresting a walrus) and eating 200g of clearance freshly best before ham while drying my washing at the laundromat, my tasks for the day were done. I was free to explore and find new inefficient London toilets. Today was to be my first London museum day. I’m a hard sell with museums. I find then interesting as hell, but I also have a limited enough attention span that suddenly hits around 90 minutes in. The secret, I’ve found, is to visit small, niche collections where there’s fascinating material, but not too much to digest. In short, I’ve learned how to handle my childish self.

First stop was the Wellcome Collection. A showcase of medical technology and art from across time and culture. Bloody. Interesting. A special exhibit, Bedlam, featured a specific mental institution from ages past. It traced particular patients, their art and writing. It looked at methodology and techniques, varying in success. One of the most stunning features was the Madlove project, where designers consulted long term patients on their desires for perfect convalescent care. The result, modeled to scale, was a gorgeous Seuss-ian landscape. With surreal colours and shapes, it allowed for a variety of solo and group experiences, destigmatising mental illness. The collection also held a few galleries revolving around past and future technology, debunking theories and homeopathic approaches. Art, science and history fused into a glorious space.

The Huntarian Museum was housed in England’s Royal College of surgeons. A private collection of medical oddities, diseases and samples. In short, a ton of body parts and foetuses, both human and animal, preserved in vinegar. It was amazing. With many internal organs removed, the preservation was startlingly effective. Also sloth foetuses look eerily like misshapen little humans. There were the results of experimental grafts, such as a chicken’s spurs grafted to its forehead. There was the skeleton of a certain “Irish Giant”, standing at 2.3m. there were a whole row of diseased penises, suffering all manner of afflictions. A display showed early examples of wartime plastic surgery, which really brought home how far we’ve come. The most chilling part was the fully preserved human foetuses ranging from a month or two to the full nine. Umbilical cord still attached, the thought of this perfect specimen derived from stillbirth was horrifying. Amazing, but heartbreaking.

With that said, it’s dinnertime. All this learning has worked up quite the appetite. Not even the M&Ms store is enough to put me off my dinner.

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