How could more than 1,500 items be taken from the British Museum over 20 years without anyone noticing? Partly because the museum does not have an adequate record of what is in its collection, according to an academic.
Professor Dan Hicks of the University of Oxford tells us: “It will shock many people to learn what everyone in the museum sector knows, that the databases are not complete.” He says the recent incident, where vast numbers of items seem to have been stolen, missing or damaged, may not have been possible if bosses had properly invested in cataloguing, and that the oversight is an example of “arrogance and exceptionalism” at the BM.
“How can you care for something if you don’t know what you have?” Professor Hicks asked, adding: “This incredibly unfortunate incident is something that it wouldn’t be possible if you had a comprehensive database of everything in the museum”. He called for all bigger museums to publish formal domcuments in the same way that smaller museums have to. “Why is it that these incredibly rich organsiations have so much worse a collection’s oversight than smaller university museums or city museums?” he wondered.
The British Museum says the majority of its items are registered, and that five million of its eight million artefacts are available to look at on a public database. Less than one per cent of its collection is on public display.
A curator of Greek items has been sacked in the furore, leading to renewed debate over the Parthenon marbles. The Greek Minister of Culture said yesterday that the theft “reinforces the just demand… for their definitive return”.
Stone me! Is this Jagger’s cryptic Cockney clue?
Mick Jagger loves the sound of breaking glass, it seems, as the Rolling Stones appear to have announced the title of their new album with a cryptic advertisement in a local newspaper. And the band are enjoying returning to their London roots, as we notice that the title is a clever nod to Cockney slang.
The ad for “Hackney Diamonds”, a fake glass repair company, is in the latest edition of the Hackney Gazette, an east London paper. It features a small version of the Stones’ lips logo. The mocked-up company was, according to the ad, established in 1962, when the Stones were founded. “Our friendly team promises you Satisfaction,” reads the ad, “when you say Gimme Shelter we’ll fix your Shattered windows”, playing on Stones songs.
But what does the name mean? The Londoner notes that Hackney Diamonds is a nod to an old east London slang phrase for broken glass. Specifically, it refers to shards of glass from broken car windows and windows as a result of robbery. East Londoners often also use the phrase “Dalston Diamonds”, after the area of Hackney.
The phone number listed on the ad goes through to a pre-recorded message. A man with a Cockney accent says: “Hackney Diamonds, specialists in glass repair. Don’t get angry, get it fixed.”
The Stones are releasing more info next month, where they are said to be leaning into the east London theme. A new record would be the band’s 31st studio album and their first without drummer Charlie Watts, who died in 2021. It seems the publicity campaign has been in the making for a while. A related website which also carries the ad, hackneydiamonds.com, was registered as a domain in April.
Dua’s cool hangover cure
She’s an international popstar, but Dua Lipa still suffers from hangovers like the rest of us. The singer turned 28 yesterday, and woke up with a headache, having downed shots in a Ibiza club with friends the night before. To get over the sore head, she got submerged in a paddling pool full of ice, posting this picture online. She captioned it: “This is 28! Shaking off a hangover with an ice bath.”
Dua was taking a dip in the Lumi “recovery pod”, a fully portable ice bath, which promises to “harness the body’s natural healing powers through cold water immersion”. Has she tried a Bloody Mary?