Before ending my series on R’n’R’s’nB’nB’s (Rambles and Reflections in Byways and Broadways of Britain), I’m including a few favorite experiences from other visits. Back in 2005, Alan and I took Kathy and Daniel to the British Isles to celebrate Kathy’s completing her M.A. in literature and Dan’s admission into dental school at the University of Michigan. Kathy and I planned most of the trip, but when we got to London, Alan and I asked Daniel to dream up something special that he wanted to see. When he said, “I’d like to see Madame Tussauds!” I probably wrinkled my nose (only inwardly, I hope) before taking a deep breath and saying, “Okay! That’s what we’ll do first thing tomorrow!”It made me realize that I was a bit of a cultural snob and thought the idea of wasting so much time and money looking at a museum of wax figures depicting movie stars and murderers sounded about as appealing as this guy on the right… and when I saw that the admission line rivaled the one for Rome’s Sistine Chapel (read that 1-2 hours), only my deep love for the nut on the left above and my sense of commitment to word & honor kept me from begging our troops to bail. In fact, we had a great time! 🙂 Madame Tussauds has about 400 different life- sized figures of many of the most famous and infamous personalities in modern western history, not just film and sports stars, but royalty, political leaders, singers…you name it, and you can probably find it…I mean him or her! “Madame Tussaud” was born in Strasbourg, France in 1761, as “Anna Maria Grosholtz.” Her mother worked as the housekeeper for a physician who was skilled in the art or making wax models. Dr. Curtius taught Anna Maria his trade, and when Anna was only 16 she made her first model: a representation of the french philosopher, Voltaire. During the French Revolution Anna collected decapitated heads of dignitaries who had been killed and fashioned death masks of them, making her initial claim to fame in a rather dubious way. In 1802 Dr. Curtius died, leaving his vast collection of models to Anna Maria, and so she spent the next third of a century touring Europe with her wax models. Eventually Anna married (thus the “Madame Tussaud”) and settled down with her museum collection at a permanent location on Baker Street in London, although today it’s nearby on Marylebone Road. We had an awesome time, and Kathy was delighted to note that sometimes small people (like Napoleon Bonaparte) do rule the world. Of course, she also felt dwarfed beside some of the literary greats, but that’s okay! We all need a little inspiration in life, right? Would I recommend Madame Tussauds? Sure, if you’ve got some extra time and bucks for fun…and especially if you have a son who’s been patiently good-humored about all your bright ideas!
“But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature, because I have refused him: for the LORD sees not as man sees, for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart’.” (1 Samuel 16:7)