Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Tate Crime

Last week the Littleboys and I ventured out of Nappy Valley (always a major expedition with the double buggy, which doesn’t do Tubes), a few miles north to the Tate Modern.

We were meeting Fellow Mummy with Little Boys, who lives in North London and who, many years ago, I used to work with. Back then, we bonded over sneaking out for coffee three times a day to moan about our boss, in the guise of having important work discussions (well, it was the kind of place where the salary cheques regularly bounced). Now, we bond over toilet training, fussy eating and the trials of trying to write features from home while looking after manic small men. So life develops.

There are many things about Tate Modern that are fantastic for kids, not least the vast and echoey Turbine Hall, which allows them to indulge in their favourite activity of running about screaming, and the view from the top floor café, which affords them many of their favourite objects– boats, trains and cars – in one go.

There are also some kid-friendly areas in the museum, with objects for them touch and poke and play with. But, as all parents know, children are always most excited by the things that are not designed specifically for them. Walking around the main Tate Collection galleries, the Littleboys loved, in this order:

1) The echo in the airy, cavernous rooms (they both walked around screaming ‘DAH’ in delight and listening to it reverberate off the walls)

2) The exhibits. Which they are, of course, not allowed to touch and desperately want to. Especially the really enticing sculptures, such as the one that looks like a giant Easter egg. Cue lots of frantic chasing by me as they tried in vain to cross the barriers.

3) The video installations. ‘Beebies’ cried Littleboy 1, when we found a darkened room with bank of screens displaying some weird footage of young girls performing telekinesis (he meant CBeebies, so far the only TV channel he knows exists). We watched it loop around for a few minutes, and as we got up to leave, he pronounced loudly: “Mummy, I LIKE that,” to the general amusement of the rest of the audience (who appeared to be totally bemused by it).

Unfortunately, not everyone in the main galleries loved us. Once Fellow Mummy with Little Boys had joined us, there were four over-excited tots running, shouting and shrieking their way through the Tate. I don’t know what he collective noun for small boys is (suggestions welcome) but we were it - and therefore a big, glaring target for child-haters.

“Get those kids out of here, I came here for a bit of peace and quiet,” stormed one middle-aged woman, prompting Fellow Mummy with Little Boys to give her a piece of her mind. Things then escalated; Stroppy Woman stomped over to a telephone and threatened to call the supervisor and get us thrown out. No-one actually did come to forcibly remove us, although we noticed several attendants lingering nearby. But there were other kids there (OK, mainly well-behaved, quiet little girls but hey, you can't choose the gender) and surely you can’t kick children out of an art gallery for making a noise? As Fellow Friend with Little Boys points out, galleries are for everyone, unless you are Jean Paul Getty and have your own private collection...

And, frankly, in my view, most of the ‘art’ in Tate Modern is so utterly ridiculous that running around it shouting ‘DAH’ is surely the most appropriate response?

1 comment:

Virginia smith said...

Funny! And to answer your question, I' d suggest "a scream of boys."