Friday, 25 March 2016
I always think of Greenwich and the Maritime Museum as an outing for a sunny day but it didn't look as if there were going to be any sunny days before the Pepys exhibition closed. So yesterday afternoon found me sitting on a damp step with my lunch from the man who makes panzerotti on Greenwich market. Today, of course, turned out sunny and would have been a lovely day for it.
Samuel Pepys is my all-time favourite historical character. How can you resist a man who has the presence of mind to bury his Parmesan cheese as London burns? When I started out working in London, it always pleased me to think that I was walking in his footsteps every day.
The exhibition was lively and I enjoyed it, though it was a shame that the diaries can't be loaned. But I hadn't realised that Pepys also kept a diary during his months in Tangier - and that was on display. He still had an eye for the ladies - and for the spiders.
I also liked the copy of the memorial to his wife in St Olave's - she looks as if she's been captured in full flow of conversation ... it must have been a lively house.
I hadn't realised that they were married at St Margaret's, Westminster in 1655. I wandered in there a couple of weeks ago and was struck by the wonderful window commemorating the betrothal of Catherine of Aragon to Henry VIII -and quite astonished that it survived divorce/revolution/blitz. But nice to think of Pepys and Elizabeth kneeling there at the altar - and I hope he didn't misbehave with the bridesmaids. Or at least didn't get caught. (The image is a 19th century watercolour. You'll see it better if you click on it.)