At the Barbican yesterday I took part in the Open University degree ceremony, at which some of this years’ thousands of OU graduates were conferred. I was sat up onstage like a teachers at Hogwarts, clapping until my hands were sore, and wearing a gown for the first time because I had left town when my own degree ceremony took place. Being new to managing the gown, I got in a tangle when walking around. Next time I’m drafted in to a lecturers’ procession, maybe I’ll wear a tie to serve as anchor.
Later, round the corner on Bunhill Row, I located the building I used to work in when I wrote ‘All Times are London Time’. Quite an achievement considering the company has since been bought up and relocated. I wondered if any of the same people still work there. Here, the foyer of Finsbury Tower was unchanged — the same anti-taste fest of polished marble, spotlit fountains and plants — but up on the 8th floor I remember a dank kitchen where spectacular green mould bloomed in unwashed teacups.
A bit further up the road, Bunhill Fields was looking all pretty in its Spring flowers. A woman asked me for directions to the Angel. She was planning to walk, and thankfully wanted just the kind of directions I am able to give — general pointers, as opposed to detailed route. This is the kind I often want too, when rambling around a strange city. I’m not the most organised of tourists – for me part of the fun lies in getting lost, and in seeing everyday stuff. (Though if I’m ever in Rome again I may make an exception and use a map, as it seems a bit shabby to have been there three times without seeing St Peter’s.)
Something interesting at Blake’s gravestone. Ranged across the top are talismans – coins, hair bobbles, other small trinkets. I add something shiny, take a picture and leave.
If Blake looked remotely like the Gandalf-style character in his illustrations for ‘Songs of Innocence and Experience’, perhaps he would actually have found hair bobbles useful.