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October, 2007

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Smell the roses, and avoid wax museums
My Way by Ursula Feist
I have always avoided visiting Wax Museums, and even though I lived in London for many years, I never went inside the most famous of them all — Madame Tussaud’s.
When I was in Copenhagen recently, looking for the Tivoli Gardens, I found myself instead in the Louis Tussaud Wax Museum next door. In the first room was an exhibit of solemnly dressed politicians: George Bush and his dad, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Margaret Thatcher, Jimmy Carter and others, their skin colour a deathly ghoulish gray. A little further on, Hitler was staring madly into space with Churchill next to him holding his cigar, with a background score of heavy gunfire. I passed Elton John and Michael Jackson, Madonna and Charlie Chaplin, Prince Charles at an antique desk with a listless Lady Di looking the other way, a grinning Queen and dutiful Prince Philip upright behind her chair. It was easy to recognize Elvis and all the Royals of Denmark graciously assembled.
After glancing at Einstein and Leonardo da Vinci, I arrived at a corner room with Ingrid Bergman all in white, Bogey close to the bar, and Sam playing “As Time Goes By.” Then I noticed the sign “Beware of pickpockets.” I suddenly realized that I was totally alone in that eerie place. Never mind pickpockets, I could be murdered here, I thought, and nobody would find me; someone would think I was just a wax sculpture toppled over. I took to my heels, fleeing past Mother Theresa, Gandhi and the Pope, and, panicking, ran down endless stairs out into the street, badly in need of a strong cup of coffee.
What a scenario for a mystery story: a silly woman’s demise on holiday in Copenhagen, on a beautiful sunny June morning, visiting a wax museum that was closing down in August, its building demolished, with bits of my dead body amid the rubble! My imagination was working overtime! Fortunately I was very much alive and swore that this was my one and only visit to a museum of this kind — just too grisly an experience for me to deal with.
The Tivoli Gardens, a green oasis in the middle of the city, are such wonderful fun for young and old: an aquarium, a concert hall, a pantomime theatre, a huge children ’s playground, dozens of different restaurants and many other amusement booths. What a relief to discover an artistically landscaped rose garden and a wide empty bench to sit down on. The sweet perfume of those European-grown roses was overwhelming, and watching the people go by from my vantage point a peaceful and healthy pastime. I observed that only women stopped to smell the roses and was determined to stay put until I saw just one man giving in to the urge. It took more than 20 minutes until I finally had a sighting: an old man, walking with the help of a cane, surreptitiously put his elderly nostrils close to a red rose. I felt like clapping and congratulating him for being so plucky in public but didn’t have the courage because he might have taken it the wrong way.
Why was it mainly women, I wondered, who took the time to actually bend down and smell the roses?  Do men perhaps feel that it isn’t a macho thing to do?  Still, Trudeau didn’t mind – he always wore a red rose in his buttonhole!
Everyone, every day, should stop to smell the roses blooming outside their windows, and maybe the world would be a much better place.


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