Some Things About Vikings

Last Sunday I went to the Vikings exhibition at the British Museum. This isn’t about myeloma, or my arse, and I’m conscious that I don’t want to start writing up the whole of my life on the internet, which would be frankly weird – but the sub-title of the blog is ‘my life in spite of myeloma’ so I guess it’s that. And it’s about Vikings! Plus the BM is an incredible building, so very easily provides striking photos to add to my ‘London is amazing’ PR mission. Here is the more classic (and Classical) view which I had on arrival, and I’ll close with the 21st Century aspect:


As I’ve been fairly cloistered at home recently for much of the time, part of the fascination for me was seeing the sheer number and diversity of people. Even getting the tube there was fun (all those people! doing stuff and saying stuff!) and the influx of visitors to the Brisith Museum is quite something to watch: the world comes to London.

I’m a little against the clock in writing this post as I have to go out shortly: a rare Saturday night out on the town involving dressing up and cocktails (or rather cocktail singular in my case). Thankfully, Dex is my friend here as I’ve had two doses in the last twenty-four hours so generating words is not a problem, even if the coherence and focus may be. But this will be pretty brief: I was also pretty dopey when I went round the exhibition and can therefore tell you more about the cake and coffee we had beforehand and how great the Members’ Room turns out to be than I could tell you anything comprehensive and/or factual about the Vikings. Still, I did take a few (illegal, shh) photos and retained a few things in my head which may or may not be true and accurate, so here they are, Some Things About Vikings as gleaned by a drugged up Helga the Great. If you’d like to know something with a higher factual content, I highly recommend the exhibition. Or, indeed, wikipedia.

Thing One:

They got about a bit, in both senses of the phrase. Or a lot, really. As far as North Africa, Caucasusy sort of places, and stuff. Lots of maps in the exhibition, and arrows, and series of images showing all the arrows moving over time. Impressive stuff. And yes, the unfortunate phrase that comes to mind with Vikings is ‘raping and pillaging’ but this guy who went to Dublin sounds a little more romantic than that:


Poor old women of Trondheim eh? Or maybe a lucky escape.

Thing Two:

As is already clear above, they had some brilliant names (Magnus ‘Barelegs’ Olafsson, King of Norway, if you can’t read the tiny print: I guess that signifies he was well’ard in view of Norway’s climate). Other fine examples included Einar Belly-Shaker. On the other hand, what we used to spell as Canute in the UK is nowadays transliterated as Cnut, which you have to be very careful in typing.

I’m going to have to get more creative with my aliases for friends on this blog…

Thing Three:

They also loved metaphors! See below. A little fuzzy due to a combination of my over-excitement and the roving museum police who quite rightly tell you off for taking photos: if you can’t read it, the gist is that they had things called ‘kennings’ which were metaphors.


I  love  the ‘wolf-gracious’..

Thing Four:

Shock horror:  helmets may not have had horns on, or rarely. This may be a   romanticised  misconception promulgated in the 1800s and perpetuated since then. Their helmets looked a little more Norman:


I’m still not changing my profile pic.

Thing Five:

They had massive swords and liked fighting. This bodes well for me, and ill for Myeloma the Puny:


They sometimes went a bit mental and fought naked. This turns out to be the derivation of the phrase ‘berserk’. See below, if it’s not too small to read.


On dex, I do a good berserk, although I don’t think I’ll go as far as nakedness and shield-chewing. I don’t even have a shield.

I think that’s it, in terms of Things About Vikings.

To close, here is the Normal Foster roof which now sits over the Great Court, completed in 2000 for the Millennium celebrations. It’s absolutely stunning, and I’m no skilled photographer but simply pointing your iphone at it in the late evening sun gives you images like this:




If  you’re  really lucky, hanging out  in the Great Court you can also observe the creme de la creme of London  society having animated intellectual conversations:


OK, so ”brief” hasn’t really happened.  I blame the Dex. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

I also now have19 minutes to eat,  wrap  a present and glam up before getting the bus and tube.

Oh  Cnut.

Helga the Late x