The city’s Natural History Museum is a place of dinosaur bones, shadows, and soft historic murmurings in galleries lined with the glassy stares of animals stuffed before filling an endangered animal full of sawdust was frowned upon.
I can often be found losing myself in its mosaic-floored hallways, shuffling along galleries of ancient undersea skeletons, or watching the soldier ants protect the queen in the insect room, but there is one room in these hallowed beast-full halls that stops my heart and turns my blood to icy seawater. The Whale Room.
In the heart of the whale room lies the blue whale. Heart-squeezingly glorious in his baleen hugeness there will never be a creature, in all of museumdom, whose tiny-eyed gaze fills me with more terror. I know he’s not going anywhere. He’s not going to squeeze from his chamber and swish through the streets of London, flinging his fearsome echo-cry into the city in the hopes of finding me sleeping and swallowing me into his sea-deep innards. But, scornful reader, what if he did…
Facing my fear I stood before this giant of the sea, my camerahands fidgeting with what-if fear, when the other-world hum began in my ears and my fingers itched for my sticks and string.
My eyes fluttered open on the frowning whale. His glare wasn’t on me. My gaze travelled guiltily to a humble museum warning sign above the whale’s great head. My first public knitblast outside the comfort of my home.
Suddenly a part of the Whale Room is mine. The silent singing of cetacean colossus may be silenced for a just a little while…