One of my abiding memories of schoolboy science was the Royal Society of Chemistry’s national campaign to promote their discipline, which urged pupils everywhere to ‘Cuddle a chemist and see the reaction’. You couldn’t do it today. Imagine the lawsuits.
The heady combination of science and love resurfaces again next week, when a number of events around town celebrate Valentine’s Day with a scientific twist.
My friend Annie Mole (not her real name) alerts me to something of a square-peg-round-hole event at the Brunel Museum in Rotherhithe. Museum director Robert Hulse will lead love-themed tours of the Thames tunnel shaft. In his own, rather mysterious words:
The Grand Entrance Hall will once again be crowded in a weekend of engineering foreplay. Love holds the key and the Brunel Museum panders to visitors with a story of love and abandonment, revolution and constancy. As well as an engineer, Brunel was a French naval officer and so his lover was the French Lieutenant’s woman. Come hear their story…
Who doesn’t love a bit of ‘engineering foreplay’? The event costs a fiver and you can apparently just turn up without booking this Saturday, Sunday or Valentine’s itself. Bet it’ll be busy, though.
A little further downriver brings us to Greenwich, where the Royal Observatory will let couples play with their 28-inch telescope (more engineering foreplay?). The evening for star-crossed lovers includes a spot of amateur astronomy, a planetarium show and a glass of bubbly. Tickets are £28.
For those looking for something a little less romantic, the wonderful Hunterian Museum host an ‘anti-Valentines’ evening in which you can ask a cardiac surgeon about mending a broken heart, and learn about the joys of syphilis. It’s a drop-in event on the 14th, and a £2 donation is suggested.
Finally, I have to mention the upcoming play Whose Blood‘, not least because their nice PR people sent me a posh chocolate bar. That always works. The production is billed as ’a tale of desire and despair set in a 19th Century operating theatre’ and, handily, it will be performed in the Old Operating Theatre on St Thomas Street (just below the looming Shard building). Prepare for a tale of ‘gin shops, body snatching and ghosts’ from the pen of Alex Burger and supported by the Wellcome Trust. It’s a little late for Valentine’s (23 Feb-12 March) but, hey, they sent me that chocolate bar.
Further Valentine’s suggestions of a non-scientific bent can be found over on my other site.