The weirdest museum we ever went to was the shoe museum in Toronto. I remember they had the world’s earliest shoe and it looked like a bunch of twigs wrapped in a bit of hessian. They also had a turquoise pair of Princess Diana’s shoes. They were slip-on with a modest heel and were kept in a glass case with a big picture of her face looming behind it. It was the display that lots of people stopped to take pictures of. She must have had massive feet because the shoes looked like boats. They were at least a size eight or nine, large for a woman.
My favourite shoes were the 16th century Italian court shoes. They had platforms shaped like the Mad Hatter’s hat with laced, open-toed mules on the top. They were covered in red velvet with a gold trim. Impractical for clopping around Venice. I thought about walking over all those bridges and getting into a gondola with them on.
The smallest museum was probably the one in Sitges. It was in the house of a dead writer and it was near the beach. It was open plan and on two levels, just one big room with a view of the sea through a large window in one of the walls. The other walls were decorated with plates and ironwork. One was completely covered in doorknobs and knockers. What a thing to collect. As we were laughing at all the knobs and knockers a guide came over to us and you flushed red. She spoke to us in Spanish and I tried to reply. She thrust a Catalan leaflet into my hand.
Everyone who goes to York goes to the Viking museum. By the time we left the city we had accompanied scores of visitors through the mock-Viking street with the mock-Viking smells sitting in the mini roller-coaster carts. One time we went it was packed with families. It must have been summer or half term and our Viking guide explained that the exit was through the crowded gift shop. She was called Friga.
‘Why would she pick that name?’ you said, choking back tears.
Then a tall woman in a Laura Ashley print dress who was just ahead of us turned around and screeched, ‘Petronella, no! Put it down.’
We followed the tall woman’s gaze to a girl over by a rack of pens and bookmarks. She huffed and threw down a multi-coloured Yorvik pen that had been in her hands. I don’t know if it would be worse to be called Friga or Petronella.
Then there was the Museum of Communism, in Prague. It was on the first floor of a building above a McDonalds. Apparently they’ve moved it now.
We’ve been discussing possible holiday destinations for this year. There’s a museum of hair in Turkey and a carrot museum in Belgium. We’re going to have to flip for it.
Wales Arts Review will be publishing exclusive new Flash Fiction pieces this week in celebration of National Flash Fiction Day on Saturday 27th June.