Clowns and Clones?

"The first thing you need to know about me, is that my name is not Nemo.

Man, I hate that guy.

Yes, we were in the same classes at school. Maths and Geography. He even chose the same tech class as me - ‘Underwater Animation’, I think it was. We were never really friends, and we don’t even look that much alike. But everyone thinks I’m him. What, as if every one of us has to be HIM? As if you’d find HIM here? In London? No. He’s probably set up in some enormous tank in Hollywood, complete with its own pool, bar and theatre. Last I heard, he’d pulled out of a purchase of a riverside London flat, in favour of his holiday home on the coast of Queensland. Thames too unclean, apparently.

You can’t imagine what its like, living in his shadow. I left the Reef to escape it all you know. It’s mad with tourists, tacky stalls devoted to overpriced merchandise, loony aficionados strolling around in Nemo swim wear. Teeny, tiny, ill-suited Nemo Speedo. Ten years, they’re all still mad for it. Our beautiful home, a World Heritage Site, seen from space, and what do they all want to talk about? Him. See where he was born. Where he went to school (the place, would you believe, has been renamed in his honour), his favourite hang outs, attend Q&A sessions with Marlin and even some of my old teachers.

Its not just the tourists either. My friends, neighbours, the local paper, even my family. Everyone is Nemo crazy. A small fish with a big, big story, they say. Always had a flair for acting, they claim. Nurtured by the Reef community, they boast.

And the billboard? Yeah, that was too much.  JUST KEEP SWIMMING. You don’t need to tell us that, we’re fish.

This London gig was my ticket out of the madness. I didn’t think Nemo’s shadow could stretch that far. More than 9000 miles, and I still can’t evade that blooming fish. Hidden away, at the very back of the museum, darkly lit, I thought that finally I had escaped.

“Look Mummy, it’s Nemo!”

I was very wrong about that.

I love my job. I truly do. The museum is wonderful. I get to meet all kinds of people, and I’ve met some really wonderful fish here. Nico, he’s like me. He understands the difficulty that Nemo’s fame has left us with – though he is from a different part of the Reef, where the situation hasn’t escalated quite so much. We both though that here, at least, we might get some peace. Sadly, this isn’t the case – to them, we’re just Nemo. They never stop to consider that there are other clownfish out there. With our own personalities, characteristics, careers. Too blinded by his fame, his stardom, and an Academy Award, my visitors fail to see that I can be anything but Nemo. An entire species, pigeonholed by one movie.

I took this job at first to escape. I could escape again – leave the museum, and leave this beautifully clear pond – and try and outrun the shadow cast by that famous orange and white fish.

Just keep swimming.

I’ll stay though – to show our visitors that we clownfish are so much more. There’ll be no Golden Globe nominations for my work – but to me its important. To educate, and to explore with others. Come and see me some time. I’ll show you the way our water ripples, and if you’re kind enough, I may even sit in your hand. But don’t, just don’t, call me Nemo.”

The Science Museum London is home to a pond full of beautiful animated fish that respond to your movements. Find them in the Pattern Pod Gallery.

Tags: fish museums

"So what do YOU do?"

You may all despise me to say it, but in spite of my generation being caught in a Hell Époque, I am happily employed (just to reiterate, employed, as in, paid) in a line of work I enjoy. Museum education, by the way. However, describing my job(s) can prove very difficult. One is always expected to provide an overview of one’s employment at parties and other soirees. “SO, TELL ME WHAT DO YOU DO?” Mostly, my answer makes me sound like a complete loon. People aren’t really sure what to do with the information I have proffered. This then leads to the assertion that I “don’t have a real job.” You know, like an accountant. I mean, that’s a real job isn’t it? My Nan would be pleased if I were an accountant. Later in the party conversation, it will be suggested that I could go in to teaching, as that’s a real job. I don’t want to do that, but thank you for your input.  Fellow party-goers might also assert that they love museums. They went to that big one, you know, in South Kensington, when they were a kid. Great! I’ll say. I actually work at the Science Museum. At this, I might get some form of appreciative noise, which translates as; yes, I have heard of this museum. The most common response is; “Yes! You have all the dinosaurs!”


“The Earthquake Machine?”

Still a no.

Ever since beginning a career (an unpaid one, initially) in museum education, this blog has been sort of forming in my mind. I had to write it when it became apparent that my own mother isn’t really sure what I do for a living. Though she is certain that whatever it is I currently do, it will translate into a Tony-Robinson-esque career; holding up old stuff in front of TV cameras. Which I don’t mind doing, by the way, if any one is offering

No more confused little faces at parties. No more shouting “INTERACTIVE GALLERIES” at strangers in noisy bars. I’m bringing a print out of this blog with me to every social event. I’ll push it into your hand when you inevitably ask me what it is I do. I’m shedding a little light on to my weekly work. My 9 to 5. And you get a ten point break down. 

Part One – Science.

  1. Exploding paint tins. Flour, oxygen, and FLAMES. Easy. Lots of clapping usually follows.
  2. Wee on the floor! Stand over it so no-one slips.
  3. No dinosaurs. Look, they live next door. Stop asking me about them.
  4. Earthquakes. See above.
  5. German. Translating. Did you know that Explosion in German is Explosion? Say it with the right accent though. Yeah, not like that. That’s French.
  6. What’s the Bubble Show about? UM I DON’T KNOW
  7. Actually, its about Bubbles. Put carbon dioxide in them, and take them home. Great pets. You don’t have to feed them.
  8. Oh, but their life span is approximately 78 seconds. Don’t get too attached. Clap though.
  9. Crush the dry ice. Crush crush crush.
  10. “I’m afraid that is the end of the show, my name is Danie, thank you for watching, and have a great day at the museum!” LIVE FOR WAY YOU CHEER AND SCREAM FOR ME THE APPLAUSE APPLAUSE APPLAUSE

Part Two – Victorian School

  1. Write the date on the board, Thursday 20th February 1884.
  2. Scrub clothes on a washboard. Scrub scrub scrub.
  3. Yoghurt. EVERYWHERE
  4. Make umbrella hat. Wear umbrella hat.
  5. Enjoy cup of tea with Victorian teacher. She doesn’t like my nail polish.
  7. “M-i-i-i-i-s-s-s-s? Were you born in the Victorian times?”
  8. “Yes. Yes I was.”
  9. Stares from strangers on the tube. Orange paint on left cheek. Clay smudge on ear.
  10. There will be NO talking. NO laughing, or giggling. NO fidgeting. And absolutely NO raising your hand, speaking to your teacher, or asking her any questions. She will be expecting only the very best Victorian behaviour from you ALL.”   SCARED THE BEEJUS OUT OF YOU KIDS

 Look, if that doesn’t help you, I give up.

If its easier, I can tell you I’m an accountant.

Yummy morning goodness

Yummy morning goodness

The One With the One Day Diary

Sordid as this may sound, I’m a big fan of magazines. Just the usual glossy fashion magazine, not the other kind. We smart women, we’re not supposed to admit to enjoying turning the pages of those shiny, consumerist, advert-filled little books. But I do. In fact, I have one arrive every month, which I caress and devour, from the very first Dior ad to the stockist lists at the back.

Each magazine works to its own aims, its own purpose. I cannot claim to know what they are. I simply enjoy the final piece. However, the (presumably unintended) consequence of these often wonderful books being put together and distributed across the country, is that with reading, we feel terrible about ourselves.

The idea that women’s magazines have been making women feel awful is not revolutionary. We have become accustomed to our roles as magazine masochists, deriving pleasure from those beautiful photo-shoots and adverts that subsequently cause us pain. Our bodies are not as slim, wrinkle-free, or as well-dressed as those in front of us. But we love to look. 

Increasing awareness of the agonies and aches invoked by the tricks of airbrushing can only serve women for the better. But there’s another trend in women’s fashion magazines that stings us as readers. New articles and features, designed to highlight interesting and remarkable women, are inadvertently poking fun at those of us who are much less remarkable. Featuring a new kind of airbrush system (one that does not attack your thigh gap or lack thereof), the Glossies now contain stories about run of the mill women - meant to represent you and me - who are absolutely NOT run of the mill. Whereas the Dolce girl, we know, is subject to technological tricks and a designer wardrobe to die for, the just-like-you-and-me-but-yet-amazing-flaxseed-smoothie-drinking-superstar is subject to absolutely no flashy trickery. Ergo, her lifestyle is attainable/desirable/the benchmark. 

The ‘run of the mill’ women that I know, are all of course independently wonderful and incredible in their own right. My mother is the most notable. She would never feature in the glossy pages as an inspiration to womankind. But she should. Despite never having made a flaxseed smoothie. 

I’ve written this article, because on my daily commute to work, flicking through those glitzy pages, I found myself feeling inadequate. And though all human beings suffer from feelings of self imposed inadequacy from time to time, I recognised that this mind-set was being nurtured by the Gloss. And it wasn’t because the Gloss was saying that my skin is scaly, or my eyelashes stumpy, or my legs short, or my clothes too mediocre. It wasn’t because the Gloss had listed all the things that would fix my many imperfections. Now, the Gloss was (albeit unintentionally) criticising my breakfast, my career choice, my home, my single status and my lack of exercise regime. My life. The Gloss was telling me that I had not met the benchmark. 

Yes, it is absurd to compare my life with that of another woman’s, and to feel bad about the areas that I am supposedly ‘lacking in’. And I do not wish to attack those magazines which I so adore myself. But the resulting blog was written with the following in mind; you, and me, and all the other ladies out there, we’re brilliant. Whatever we do, whatever we wear, and whatever we have for breakfast, we are all still brilliant. And we’re notable. We’re notable enough to appear in those glossy pages, if they would have us. I’d like to be able to devour a wonderfully written magazine article about a fellow fabulous female who I can actually feel akin to. Until that happens, below is my own one-day diary. A completely, run of the mill, boring, smoothie-free day, in which a seemingly unimpressive woman goes about her seemingly unimpressive day.

Daniella Hadley, 23, is museum educator and junior bar manager. She lives in London, with her two flatmates Hayley and Laura.

“I always thought that I would become a teacher. As a child, weekends were spent delivering English, Maths and History lessons to my younger sister, who would cry and complain that she would rather be out playing on the go-kart. During my time at University, I became involved with a local interactive science centre, and realised that learning need not always take place in a classroom. It took me two more years to think up a career in museum education. I don’t remember how I came to that decision, but after a year of study, internships and placements, it all slotted into place. 

I get up at 7am. I’m supposed to get up at 6:30am, but the extra half an hour in bed is worth not having clean hair for. Though I am truly, madly, and deeply in love with fashion, my weekly budget for clothes usually amounts to about thirty pence. As a result, I’ll throw on a basic black skirt and an old mustard blouse (I’d rather not say how old).  After a session with the dry shampoo, and a little time with BBC Breakfast, I am ready to leave my 3 bed flat. As for my actual breakfast, I don’t have the time or patience for starting the day healthily with a smoothie, nor the extra cash for a luxurious start to the day with a croissant, so I stick to a cup of tea when I get in to work and a couple of biscuits. 

From home, I head straight to either Work Number One, Two or Three. Unlike other, more fabulous women, I skip a morning gym session altogether. Work Number One is a beautiful old school that has now been transformed into a museum. I get to work at 9am, like the rest of humanity, and after turning on the lights, I write the day’s date on the blackboard; ‘Monday 18th November 1883’. I then spend the day working with schools, talking to them about life in Victorian London. My work is brilliant but lacking entirely in glamour. It has been known for the children to fall sick, make an enormous mess with carbolic soap and ask me if I was born in Victorian times.  At Work Number Two, I’ll spend the day chatting with school groups and families in the interactive areas. There are days when an audience of more than one hundred people will watch me deliver a science show full of brilliant and show-stopping experiments. But there are also days when I am asked to guard urine, to make sure that no one slips and falls in it while someone else rushes for a cleaner.

Lunch will ultimately involve leftovers and a yoghurt. Not together, obviously. I’d like to say that I go somewhere fabulous for my lunch, like Pret or Nandos. But my homemade lasagne isn’t half bad, even if the cheese sauce does initially enter the kitchen in the form of granules. I don’t know what quinoa is and I’ve never been to Ottolenghi. If I’m lucky, there will be doughnuts on the table at Work Number Two, which I can scoff during my lunch break. If I have enough time, I’ll try to get two in.

Work Number Three begins at 6pm. I rush from one end of London to the other, for my manager shift at a student bar. The first thing I do when I arrive is devour a bag of crisps and change into a pair of really grotty converse. Our patrons really love their Sambuca, and I’d rather not have it getting on my Topshop ankle boots. I’ve been doing this job for more than two years and customers never cease to surprise me. The closest thing we’ve had to a celeb in our bar is the kid from Junior Apprentice, but we do get several crying blokes and even a head-butter. At the end of the night, while I’m cashing up or helping clean down the bar, I’ll imagine that I will one day write a brilliant novel, or get spotted singing at Thursday’s karaoke by a talent scout, or own a property, or will receive a sudden lottery windfall and spend the entire thing in Zara.

My busy, boring and yet brilliant working day reaches it’s end at midnight, when I collapse into bed without having been to the gym, or having drunk a smoothie, or having worn anything remotely designer all day. I’ll soothe myself to sleep with a fizzy drink, some more biscuits and an episode of Friends. I’m on Series 6 at the moment. Rachel is dating Bruce Willis.”

My own photographs taken at the Museum of London

My own photographs taken at the Museum of London

A Life in the Day of a Science Museum Bubble

I’m flying! Flying!




A Life in the Day of Another Science Museum Bubble.


I follow my brothers and sisters out into the open air, wobbling up, and up, and up…




A Life in the Day of a Third Science Museum Bubble.


Oooh, I’m smaller than the others. As I make my way across the room, I see lots of giant grinning faces follow my teeny sphere shape. Chubby arms reach out. Dangerous fingers pointing. A gust of wind pulls me away from their malevolent grasp, and I float unwittingly into a…




A Life in the Day of the Greatest Science Museum Bubble


Yay! With a wave of a wand, I’m ENORMOUS. The biggest bubble of the day. I slowly wobble into a perfectly round sphere. I hear a chorus of “oohs” and “aaahs”. They love me. I’m a star! I saunter towards the crowd, and I see their arms raise up. A sweet puff of air tickles my belly, and I lift even higher. The crowd beneath me wave their arms, round, and round, and round again in circles. I climb higher into the air. Again, a puff of air. I look down, and see their faces raised, mouths open, arms waving frantically. If I go on lifting, I’ll be sure to reach the heavens.

I’ve almost made it to the back of the room – the distance I have travelled is astonishing. And still they keep on blowing, flapping, even cheering. I’m high; I’m alive. I can no longer see the floor. Instead, the vast ceiling extends before me. I reach out for it, I’ve made it, I’m at the top, I’m…






Adding Glycerol to your bubble mix will help your bubbles last longer – as will wafting.


A technique invented by humans centuries ago, wafting involves the waving of the arms and hands in a circular motion to move the air underneath a bubble, allowing it to float higher, and preventing it from popping on the floor. Blowing also adds to this effect.


Bubble thrill seekers should visit the Science Museum this Summer for the amazing Bubble Show. Please note that Bubble Saboteurs are not welcome.


No bubble lasts forever. Delight in them when you can, and as much as you can.

Giving life to new baby Bubbles.

Giving life to new baby Bubbles.

Bubbles at the Science Museum, London

Bubbles at the Science Museum, London

Use Your Outside Voice: A Guide to Public Speaking

Whilst my friends may hold me in esteem for my Minaj-rapping abilities, my in-depth knowledge of Spielberg’s ‘93 dino classic and my slap-up shepherd’s pie, in my professional life, none of these rather outstanding talents are of use. An enormous problem faced by my generation’s graduates, we leave university with a host of fantastic abilities, quirks and experiences, which, to our friends, are inexplicably valuable. Our personal CV’s practically glitter. Interviews that focussed upon our private and downright peculiar reminiscences rather than our professional biography would be a snitch. And HILARIOUS. ‘Can you think of a time in which you experienced conflict and how you dealt with it?’ ‘Describe a situation when you worked as part of a team?’

Anyone who has spent the last two years job hunting, job applying, and job crying will know that those beautiful memories of ‘the time so-and-so broke a radiator/had an allergic reaction/set chip pan on fire/lost dignity to toffee vodka’ are rendered largely useless and pretty futile when it comes to convincing an employer that you professionally rock (those things still make you who you are though, m’kay?). Your private skill set – dinosaurs, rap, pie – is not your winning hand.

But what might be?

I want to focus on one particular skill. One winning ability that is highly valued (citation needed – it must be though, mustn’t it?) not only by employers, but also by Lordsugar himself. One that, in my line of work, is pretty bloomin’ crucial. One that – almost – straddles the line between what you’ve engaged in professionally and personally.  One that might get you the job. One that might keep you out of the boardroom. One, that could earn you a handful of change along the Southbank on a Saturday. It is of course; the art of public speaking.

From dictators to Darcy, great public speaking has won over nations, employers, the voting public, even women. It can prove a useful tool for you both in the office and at the bar/open mic night/golfing range. But for those not born naturally into the highly coveted and extremely elite group of mind blowing public speakers, the whole thing is flipping daunting.

However, there are methods of teaching yourself this ancient art, much like teaching yourself how to make the perfect meringue. First, there will be mistakes. Your speech might turn out limp, or chewy, and imperfect for dessert. Persevere, and there will be success. Once a snivelling and shy character, I myself now work within environments that require talking to OHMYGOD THE PUBLIC everyday. I’ve done the Macarena to a one hundred strong audience. I’ve dodged difficult questions from super inquisitive school groups. I’ve pointed out where on my body my rectum goes (somewhat obvious). I’ve tripped over. I’ve shouted the word ‘poo’ (and accidentally said the word ‘turd’). And, thanks to my work as a public speaking hero, I’ve even been asked to pose for photos. Big thumbs up. It felt only natural that I should collate my advice and experiences, along with that of others, in order to provide a comprehensive guide to public speaking.



Don’t bother using it. It is probably safe to assume that it is not working, in which case, simply yell at your audience.

“OI! Yeaah, OIII. Mics not working…”

The microphone is in essence a show piece – its your prop. Cuddle it, and it will make you feel safer. Use it even, to hide your face. You’ll see that Shy Ronnie uses this technique wonderfully. In addition, by holding the microphone, you will give your hands an object to play with, thus distracting you from your attempts to speak to a crowd.


Compliments are great – and your audience will love them. Say the right thing, and those guys will be eating out of the palm of your hand. Wonderful examples include Kanye’s kind words about Bey’s music video, back at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, and Bridge’s sweet attempts to list the top thirty Books of Our Time.

Kanye in particular, has had such a successful record with public speaking that during filming Shy Ronnie I for SNL, Rihanna lamented that King Yeezy would have been a better choice to star alongside her.


Pretty important, don’t you think? You want your words to form witty and interesting sentences, that have the audience hanging on your every mouthful. Movie stars have a wonderful back catalogue of inspiring, well thought out and frankly, RIP ROARING acceptance speeches that could provide you with some much needed inspiration. Shy Ronnie also has a beautiful way with words, so long as you can hear them. Swear freely, reference your you know what and throw out one wisecrack after another, and you’ll be a star.

In my line of work, we often invite volunteers to take the stage alongside us. Its polite to get their names. Perhaps you could even offer them a nickname (you should probably keep it PG13), which will certainly bring humour to your discourse; “And here’s the man we all call…

…Mister Fitzherbert. Because that, is his name.”

And finally, on the subject of words, it is important to note that there will simply be times when you won’t need to use them. Allow the audience to think on the topic, and offer breaks in your speaking so that they may applause, cheer, and even whoop. It is often the case that expressions and emotion can convey so much – Halle Berry was once so wonderfully overcome with gratitude that her tears spoke to the audience for a good minute and a half. If it works for Halle, it can work for you too.


Even the best public speaker needs to ensure that they are nice to look at. Enthrall your audience with a loose nasal crater, a fun beret, an exotic piece by Gucci, chocolate stains or even a one-liner jumper.

You might find that your body language speaks more than you do. Hunched over shoulders are a mark of subtle confidence. Ron has the body language thing locked down; looking down as you speak will enable you to check that your feet are not only looking delectable, but also that you are standing in the right spot for maximum comfort.



 Clap. In fact, if the audience won’t oblige you, clap yourself. Start the clapping off. They’ll soon follow your suit.

 Tell them who you were.

“Thank you very much for listening, my name was Steve.”

Because now the show/speech is over, that is no longer your name. The person you are in the present, well, that never even mattered. You were Steve, and now that you – and they – are clapping, you’re not.


And there you have it. Steve probably read this guide before embarking upon a successful career in public speaking. And now, you will be able to do it too. Whether its in interviews, at book launches, in Lord Sugar’s boardroom, during bank robberies, or as part of an educational team in a museum, your ability to speak publically will rock an audience’s world. Make your professional CV glitter, and throw yourself into public humiliation discourse.