Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Walking through the RGS

"The learned society & professional body
for geography & geographers."

The Map Room has low cabinets
with shallow drawers.
The temptation to open one
almost overcomes me.

There is a lunch reception and
I see out of the corner of my eye
that the immaculate man on the sofa
is from the Embassy of Azerbaijan.

Tea Room : for use by Fellows and Guests only
Do eminent explorers drink tea?

I am momentarily distracted
by the selection of guidebooks
for the Arctic and Antartica.

Stanley, moustachioed and belligerent,
is hidden behind the swing doors.

The Zanzibar chests
are from the Artefacts collection of the Society.
Please do not sit on them.

A sliver of the Royal Albert Hall
is glimpsed through the tall casement windows.

In the empty lecture theatre
the brass edge to the balcony seats
shines dully in the half-light.

Lavatories on the Minstrels Gallery

Sir Wilfred Thesiger stares back at me,
his hooded bronze eyes exactly on a level with mine.

The leather seats in the corridors
are gold embossed with
the impressive design of the RGS,
crowned and gartered.

Photographs of Sherpas
from the 1936 expedition to Everest
stare solemnly out over the exhibition space.
In this building where great expeditions
have been proposed and planned
they claim their rightful place.


Founded in 1830,
Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
is a world centre for geography:
supporting research, education,
fieldwork & expeditions,
and promoting public engagement
and informed enjoyment of our world.

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