Monday, 7 February 2011

The reason to be here

Whatever that is, I say First stop, Banpo Neolithic settlement.

This has to be one of the most completely excavated neolithic sites around, hasn't it? Tell me about the others. I want to visit those too.

Grain pits, burial chambers, defensive ditches, evidence of settlement over a lengthy period of time due to multiple post holes, kilns, fire pits, tools, pottery... The children wish I would shut up as well. They shove their hands in their pockets, scowl, and say it's too cold to stand around.

Here's Squirrel, looking glum by a model of neolithic settlement.

She is probably counting the days when she can leave home to study a degree in Fairyology. That will mark an end to the ancient-tending mama dragging everyone out of warm beds, only to watch me enthusiastically jump up and down and joyfully point at bits of clay while breathlessly over-using the word fantastic!

Granted, the site is freezing, and covered in a thick layer of dust, so I try to be patient. Anyway, I bet she ends up dumping the poxy fairies and studying something useful like history, or rocks. One day it will dawn on her that fairies are not real, but neolithic settlements are and, best of all, this is where your great great grandmother used to live.

Not in the building above, obviously, because this is a terrible outdoor reconstruction in the process of being knocked down.

I hope so. At the moment it looks like the primitive neoliths used it as a dump site for the local builders.

Sorry about that, Banpo Museum, because Dig tells me the exhibits inside the new halls are just great and well worth visiting. Much better, he says, than staggering around outside, complaining about Chairman Mao and what that means for the Chinese marketing of prehistory.

So I didn't get to see the new exhibits. At all. I can only shake my head sorrowfully and know that I've left so many places where I wanted to stay longer that I've had to come to terms with regret and reluctance by saying that anything left undone is a reason to return. That's what I do here, so see you again, Banpo.

Anyway, it's a quick stop en route. The things the kids really want to see? The reason why anyone visits Xi'an at all.

All smiles now. Except Tiger. She is deadly serious. She brings the crowds to a halt with four hours of this.

I don't know what this says about the Chinese visitors, but most of them seem utterly intrigued by Tiger's sketching. They spend some time staring over her shoulders and pointing her out to their friends. Thanks to her, we get requests for photographs, intensive arm stroking, and one gentleman clasps his hands and bows to her.

She is totally oblivious to it all, so it hasn't gone to her head, although it might have gone to mine. Any more of this public attention and I will really become that home ed mother put up by the popular press - the one who is convinced her child is a genius, and maybe even Einstein, or Michelangelo, reincarnated in a frock. Soon I shall be insisting on an art degree by age 14 and invoicing Saint Martins for the privilege of looking at her. Dig, who is more level headed than me, but who didn't receive all the hugging, suggests she might just start with a GCSE in art, but be aware, because whatever the exam question, and whatever the site, she'll only ever draw a horse.


sharon said...

I see an opportunity for some clay modelling to while away the cooler days ;-)

MadameSmokinGun said...

I love it. This used to be me in museums. I have now given up museums as I have devil children. I can't remember (because I am senile) if I posted this before but the last time I was in such a place, (the British Museum to be exact), Minx sighed loudly (echoingly loudly) and stated 'Dad! There is NOTHING of interest here.'

We got our coats.

Ernestine said...


Miss you all loads but very happy to hear of your exciting times.

Love to you all!

Tanti auguri da

Zia Erny & Chiara Luna