John Walsh: I'd visit a museum about kissing at the movies

Notebook

Share
Related Topics

Citizens of Las Vegas are justly proud of its many achievements (putting a city in the middle of a desert, boasting a hotel room where gamblers pay extra to play poker with a $20m Picasso on the wall) and it's interesting to see the city fathers spending £27m of public money to honour a great bunch of guys.

The Mob Museum has just opened – on Valentine's Day, which was the occasion for a celebrated massacre 83 years ago last Tuesday. Apart from offering a loving mock-up of a wall pocked with Tommy gun bullets from that event, the museum tips a fedora to gangsters, mobsters, wise guys and flamboyant killers down the years. Implements of terminal dispatch are on riotous display, as are stove-in heads and body bags, though not, sadly, an exhibit of someone sleeping with the fishes.

Bad taste museums are some of the joys of the leisure industry. Who could resist a trip to the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Washington DC (est 1862), where you can inspect the bullet that killed Lincoln along with fragments of his bone and hair from his skull, and compare a smoker's lung to a coal miner's lung? (It's not a first-date kinda place.) But British museums can hold their heads high among celebrants of the quirky and bizarre: there's the Dog Collar Museum in Maidstone, the insanely groovy Pencil Museum in Keswick, and a by-no-means-tragic Lawnmower Museum in Southport.

What we need, however, are some new British museums for things which, like gangsters in Vegas, were once central to our lives but became outmoded in the last half-century. Sheds, for instance, have become hi-tech home cinemas or multi-MacBook desktop creativity centres, rather than ramshackle hideaway garden retreats for ageing hobbyists. We need a Museum of Real Sheds, exhibiting a range of pipes and deckchairs, complete sets of Health & Efficiency magazine, empty bottles of Wincarnis tonic wine and a whiskery old geezer in the corner saying, "I'll get my soldering iron." A Tape Recorder Museum would show off the vast, imperishable Grundig reel-to-reel machines on which we once recorded "My Generation" and "Flowers in the Rain", machines we thought were the last word in techno-wizardry but which were made redundant by cassettes overnight.

Filmgoers could enjoy a nostalgia trip at the Museum of Peculiar Things You Used to Do In the Cinema. In a specially designed "Odeon" setting, you can experience: a) staring at a single image on the screen for five boring minutes while an orchestra plays the overture to West Side Story or Mutiny on the Bounty; b) the Intermission, when everyone used to buy Kia-Ora orange squash and ask each other, "Why has this movie stopped in the middle?"; and c) the thrill of having everyone beside, behind and in front of you smoking, kissing and sometimes doing both.

Of course, if we want our own Mob Museum, we've got plenty of personnel to fill it with. Teddy Boys from the 1950s, Mods and Rockers from the 1960s, Skinheads from the 1970s. Happy times. When London teens are stabbed to death today for looking disrespectfully at a sociopath in a grey hooded T-shirt, you can feel a warm glow for the days when thugs had the decency to dress up before they thumped you. When 200 skins pursued you across Clapham Common, and kicked you senseless with their Doc Marten boots, at least you could think, "Okay, this isn't Vegas – but it's got a certain style."

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Head Chef

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Garden Centre complex base...

Recruitment Genius: Buyer

£36000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Buyer is required to join thi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45000: SThree: SThree Group have been well es...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Between the covers: Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet, opposite Colin Firth's Mr Darcy, in the acclaimed 1995 BBC adaptation of 'Pride and Prejudice'  

To talk about 'liking' a character may be a literary faux pas, but I don't care

Memphis Barker
Hinkley Point A to the right of development land where the reactors of Hinkley C nuclear power station are due to be built  

Should the UK really be putting its money into nuclear power in 2015?

Chris Green Chris Green
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen