Beautiful London Fog

By Ernie Witham   |   October 1, 2019

I’ve spent a good part of my life in a fog. In my brief stint as a Hippie, the fog was often associated with the inhalation of marijuana or as we referred to it then – grass. Sometimes I think it actually was grass we purchased. “Is that a dandelion?”

“Might be. You feel anything yet?”

“Not sure, man… where are we anyway?”

“Crosswalk, waiting for the light to change again.”

“Cool. There it goes. Wow!” 

Later in life, the fog was often attributed to indecision. “What are you going to do when you graduate?”

“Not sure. Sleep for a while, I guess. You?”

“Try to find a million dollars to pay off my student loans.”

“Totally awesome, Dude.”

Then there was the night I had to drive in Tule fog on our way to China Peak for a family ski vacation. It was so thick and right on the ground so all I could see were the taillights of the only other car on the road.

“You know, I keep thinking about something my mother used to say: ‘If the car in front of you drives off a cliff does that mean you have to drive off a cliff?’ Weird huh?”

“Snore, zzzzzzz, snore.”

Most recently, I was in an artistic fog tunnel created by Olafur Eliasson in an exhibition at the Tate Modern, a museum in London, England. He calls his exhibit “In Real Life.” As Pat and I entered, the fog was bright white and you could barely see the heads of the people in front of you as you walked. “If that lady with the big hair disappears over a cliff, don’t follow her.”

“Cliff! There’s a cliff? You said it was just a fog thing. Everything will be fine, you said.”

The light turned an eerie yellow as we continued walking zombie-like. “Cliff is just a metaphor from another time I was lost in a fog.”

“Oh, you mean like yesterday? Or the day before?”

“Yesterday we were in Churchill’s War Rooms. I was lost in the ‘fog of war.’ And the day before we were in Winchester Cathedral and I was plotting how I was going to get my remains entombed there with all the other famous writers, like Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Alfred Tennyson, and Jane Austen. 

“What’s your plan?”

“I haven’t the foggiest.”

The light changed to a darker orange. It was like we were inside a smoke-filled pumpkin. Eliasson’s other exhibits were also captivating. There was a room with colored lights that projected multiple silhouettes of you in various hues onto a wall.  

“You look good in green,” I told Pat. “If you come back as a space alien in your next life I think you will be quite popular.”

“Great. I’m glad I’ll be happy as an extraterrestrial.”

Another exhibit had a single strobe light in the middle of an otherwise totally dark room. I was only in there for a few minutes but I swore I saw a guy I knew from my Hippie days. “Far out huh, man?” He said something to me in Chinese. “Wow, you took a radical turn from New Hampshire.” One strobe he was there and the next he was gone.

Eliasson also created a tunnel of refracted images and a room with mirrors on the ceiling so you could see what you looked like to seagulls. And he had a room full of mist that made it seem like you were in a storm.

The Tate Modern itself is, well, a bit wonky, as they say. It has two towers. One you can take an elevator to the top and get great views of London and some all-glass apartments so you can admire their… furniture. Most of the 10 floors though are not open to the general public, so you have to go down to the second floor to cross over to the second shorter tower, where many exhibits are open to members only. Fortunately, there were still tickets to the Olafur Eliasson exhibit.

The light turned blue and then a door opened and we were out and headed for the exit. “That was great, but I actually kinda miss being in the fog.”

“Don’t worry,” Pat said. “There’s always tomorrow.”


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