“You might as well go after the dragon.”
– Dr Jordan B. Peterson

Fifty years to find the treasure

I have lived in London for around 50 years. My only years away have been my first two in Cyprus, and my three years at Birmingham University.
It has taken me that long to discover the Victoria & Albert Museum. I went there for the first time during Easter 2022.
I know exactly why I avoided it for so long. From my youth onwards, I was under the mistaken belief that the V&A was a twee Victorian museum that housed: wallpaper designs, carpets, dolls, dolls houses, dresses, hats, sewing patterns, porcelain, tea sets, embroidery, haberdashery, wooden furniture, lace, handbags and curtains.
None of this appealed to me. It seemed dusty, uninteresting, feminine.
If any of that kind of stuff is in there, I didn’t see it. Instead I found startling exhibits from all ages. It reminded me of the Metropolitan Museum in New York.
Now, going to the V&A feels like getting into a warm bath. It has an exact cast replica of Michelangelo’s David. It was made as a gift for Queen Victoria, from a mould of the original.
It has a Donatello sculpture of St Francis of Assisi. It has magnificent armour and swords. Beautiful, illuminated manuscripts and chant books that are 800 years old.
I go to the British Museum and the Natural History Museum three or four times a year. The V&A will now join them.


Probably the most prevalent figure among the museum’s 2.3 million artefacts is Christ. My guess is that the second most depicted person is the Virgin Mary. Third, is possibly St George.
The George and the Dragon story is one of the oldest in folklore. Stephen Fry says that we should teach children this story. Not because dragons exist, but because they can be vanquished.
Prominent psychologist, author and global speaker Jordan Peterson tells the story of his five year old nephew, who had regular nightmares. Peterson says: “A year after these dreams, his parents were divorced. So there were dragons in the house. The five year old was running around the house all day with a plastic knight’s helmet on and a sword, zipping around killing things with it. And at night he’d place the helmet and sword by his pillow. He’d wake up in the night screaming.”
Peterson asked him what he dreamt about. He said he was in a field, and these creatures like dwarves, were coming up to him. They didn’t have any arms, they just had legs and big beaks, and they were covered in hair and grease, and there were many of them. And in the distance there was a dragon, puffing out fire and smoke, and the fire and smoke turned into these dwarves.
“What are you going to do about these dwarves? Kill one? Big deal. Ten more are coming,” asked Peterson, “Despite this horror, you could do something about it.”
“Ha,” said the kid. “I’ll take my sword, I’ll get my dad, and I’ll go to where the dragon was. I’ll jump on his head, I’ll use my sword to poke both of his eyes out, I’ll go down his throat to where the fire comes out, I’ll cut a piece of that box out, and I’ll use it as a shield.”
“Wow, it’s unbelievable,” thinks Peterson, that this kid knows that the most sure-fire method of overcoming fears is to confront them.
Psychologists agree that stepping outside your comfort zone, is always beneficial.

James Neophytou

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