**This is about the Body Worlds Exhibition currently on show at the Life Science Centre in Newcastle…Photography is prohibited within the exhibition – there are some pics from my wanderings around the city on my Instagram though**
Alternative title: There’s nothing quite like hiding under a table containing hearts that have undergone plastination to make you realise that one day you’ll pop your clogs and end up as a piece in an exhibition waving your lungs in the air like pom-poms or skipping over your large intestine.
Sagittal slices of brain were displayed on the wall like a morbid art piece…each piece unique. What are we bid for the memories, thoughts and feelings of a deceased human being?
“It’s funny” I said to M “the smell of brains used to remind me of chicken”.
The couple next to us gave me a look that can only be described as horrified before carefully manoeuvring away to look at something less disturbing…I think it was the kidney tumour display.
(I should point out that for a little while I worked in a laboratory setting, I don’t collect brains to sniff or anything…it was just a peculiar whiff that used to emanate from them when slicing them up ready for staining…needless to say it took a long while before I could eat chicken again).
I’m not entirely sure at which point my sense of mortality smacked me square in the face; it could have been when I was observing the brain slide showing the effects of a major haemorrhage, or maybe the swollen heart, or possibly the damaged smoker’s lungs… whatever it was caused me to stop in my tracks and an overwhelming sense of “oh hell” took hold.
“Oh hell I’m 30 next birthday“.
“Oh hell I don’t have a career yet“.
“Oh hell I still haven’t watched ‘Psychoville‘”.
“Oh hell my best friend is a cactus named Pudding“.
Cue Existential Crisis infront of the dude with his dong out (one of the exhibits not a visitor as there are laws against that sort of thing)…seeing a skeleton standing next to it’s muscles and connective tissue is a humbling experience. You find yourself in awe at how complex the human body is, while simultaneously realising just how fragile it is.
It makes you re-evaluate things.
“You need to start running again you lazy sod” my brain said as we glanced at the knee joint display.
“I know I do” resigned to the fact I do lead quite a sedentary lifestyle.
“And maybe go back to Yoga because your balance is awful, you walked into a door frame yesterday” it carried on.
“Well maybe you shouldn’t drink so much gin” I jested.
“This isn’t a laughing matter! While I’m at it we need to read more…and no I don’t mean those trashy magazines that tell you to go on the ‘avocado up the butt’ diet to lose 5 stone in a week” I was starting to dislike it’s tone.
“To be fair, we have been reading ‘Dead Funny’ on our lunch breaks, you enjoy that don’t you?” I reasoned.
“And drink more water…you need to put the coffee down and-”
“Ruebi, coffee isn’t-”
“Shush or I will sign you up to get sliced and you will end up with strangers glaring at your amygdala …you don’t want that do you?!”
Needless to say the conversation ended there (which was probably a good thing as I was drawing attention to myself) and I resolved to make a few lifestyle changes (just don’t tell my brain as I’ll never hear the end of it).
EDIT: ‘Dead Funny‘ is an anthology of short horror stories written by comedians…I giggled at things I probably shouldn’t have giggled at…outloud…in a very quiet open plan office.
PS – If you would like to donate your body to this amazing project, you can sign up here.
Alternatively, if you would like to donate your brain to research into Neurodegenerative diseases, check out The Brain Bank (Kings College London).
I feel like Burke and Hare sharing those links…just without the messy task of murder or grave robbing.