On one of my wanderings I decided to go to the V&A, a museum-cum-gallery that I've never visited. Personally, even though I claimed at one point to be a historian, I'm not that fond of museums full of artefacts, preferring art galleries where I can sit in front of a painting and stare at a particular, expertly captured patch of light or the knowing smile in a woman's painted eye for hours. Both museums and galleries are peaceful places, though, and I'd be just as happy sitting on a bench in the middle of a room filled with tourists staring at nothing in particular, just absorbing the peace. Like a church, it's a building designed to house things people have laboured over and held sacred, and the air is filled with that.
But I digress. Enjoying as I did the chronology of the jewellery room and numerous beautifully illuminated manuscripts, I was happy to find that The House of Annie Lennox is still open.
While the exhibition itself is not bountiful, it does have a great selection of Annie's varied costumes, from androgynous suits to more feminine gowns worn for the No More 'I Love Yous' video and the cover of her strangely addictive Christmas album, A Christmas Cornucopia. Annie is 57 (turning so on Christmas Day), has won Grammys, Brits and Oscars, and plaudits for her work as an activist and philanthropist. She has letters after her name. She has been celebrated for her contribution to music and her charity work across the world. She is one of the UK's greatest musical exports, a chameleon of style and sound whose look is never predictable, whose energy is limitless and whose voice is striking, otherworldly, the kind of voice that could sing a battle song with one breath and segue into a lullaby with the next. She is timeless, and an inspiration for our next generation of singer-songwriters. While some of her contemporaries enjoyed their time in the spotlight before departing with grace, Annie continues to make music, critics be damned, and continues to inspire and challenge the perception of lifespan, age and appearance.
Obviously, Annie is an idol of mine. A brave, honest woman, powerful, dynamic and creative, pushing boundaries of beauty and challenging what's feminine, using eccentricity and raw talent to sell her music. She represents everything that's British, and continues to be a benchmark for all our artists.