The underground's foibles meant that we stuck to a safe bet of visiting the Tate Modern for an hour or so before taking lunch there. This gave us time to see most of floor 3, including the Dali lobster telephone, a replica of Duchamp's toilet (apparently the original is "lost", which does remind me of the cleaners dealing with Tracy Emmin's unmade bed), one or two works by Roy Lichtenstein, and Yves Klein's IKB 79. Is it art? Well, it's certainly a nice colour.
The Tate Modern's "cafe" offers rather more food than necessary for a snack (just as well we didn't try the restaurant, then), and was probably fair value though it was more than you'd tend to want to spend on a snack at lunch time. I had a cheese and ham focaccia; kharin went for the smoked eel.
Returning on the Circle Line to Westminster, we circumnavigated the Houses of Parliament on our way to Tate Britain and tried to ignore the alarm that was coming from its underground car park on the assumption that it was more probable that it goes off every time the barrier opens, than that al-Qaeda, or Fathers for Justice, had succeeded in perpetrating some outrage with an impending apocalypse.
The Turner, Whistler, Monet exhibition is deservedly popular. One reason for going on a weekday was to try to avoid the crowds; we met with only modest success, though I would say that the behaviour of the punters was generally more moderated and considerate than when I visited the Turks exhibition at the Royal Academy. I can't understand why, but these exhibitions always seem to have a very busy opening room, and the crowd generally thins out as you progress through the exhibition. Of the three artists, my gut feeling is that Turner was under-represented, though maybe that's just because of the number of his paintings in permanent collections in London. The picture of Napoleon's exile to St Helena was particularly interesting in showing that Turner had no great ability for portaiture: the figure was somewhat caricatured, though there was no evidence this was intended as anything other than a "straight" artwork. The "series" works by all three artists were interesting: Turner at Lake Lucene, Whistler on the Thames, Monet on the Seine. It's curious that the harsh industrialisation of the nineteenth century that played such an important role in the urban skies of these works nevertheless seems so tranquil now.
We returned in time for our off-peak tickets to remain valid, despite First Great Western's cunning plan of running a number of services out of Paddington that do not stop at Reading.