It’s like in December everyone you know says ‘We must catch up before Christmas!’ which is swiftly followed by festive cards that read ‘Let’s meet in the New Year!’

The situation today was in a similar vein: Given that the current blockbuster exhibition was ending imminently we thought we’d better get down there to view it – along with the rest of the country.

“We’re definitely amongst those people of a certain age” my cousin noted looking around her at the grey/white haired heads populating the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery.  “Yes – quite!  That’s the joy of not working Rach!” I replied instantly.

A canny move on her part had us signing up to be ‘member and guest’ for the year granting us immediate access to Rembrandt: The Late Works. “Your Mum and mine will love the Impressionists” Rach said.  “I know – and the Goya” I replied as we checked in our coats.

A flurry of activity was all around, as people queued for potentially their first public outing of 2015. “Time for a coffee first?” I asked.  “No, let’s get in there and get it over with” Rach replied quickly.

Unfortunately with the mammoth exhibitions it’s a bit like this – nothing to do with the artist, but rather the prospect of standing five deep to view a picture that gets you sharpening your elbows metaphorically speaking.

We procured a guide and were soon following the headphoned herd though blacked out rooms.  “Where are the lights coming from – all the faces seem to be spotlit?! I exclaimed.  “I know that’s what he’s famous for – but what do you think these paintings would look like without all that illumination!” I continued to some sidelong glances around me.  Rach dryly remarked “Probably just blend into the darkness.”  We moved on.

By room two intense reading of the guide followed by scrutiny of each picture had rendered us somewhat jaded. A ‘loo’ break was explained to the admissions desk as we made for the cafe and the now habit-formed pre-lunch light snack at 12pm that festive eating gives rise to.

We swapped the presents that had sat languishing under our respective Christmas trees until now and discussed the year ahead.

“Let’s make it enjoyable when we get back in there Rach; let’s ditch the guide and do it old skool style.” “Good idea” she replied.  “Mine’s disappeared anyway.”


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