Wearing a gown at the Barbican, and the poet with hair bobbles

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.

Gravestones, Bunhill Fields

paving stones, Bunhill Fields

Squirrel, Bunhill Fields

Moss green things, Bunhill Fields

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.


4 thoughts on “Wearing a gown at the Barbican, and the poet with hair bobbles

  1. I loved imagining the talismans on Blake’s gravestone, and then there they were. Also, the green mould blooming in the unwashed teacups is an immaculte description.


    • Thanks Jill – it keeps me on my toes knowing that you pop in and read from time to time. Perhaps that little detail should perhaps be scooped up and fed in to ‘All Times’. Though my crime writer friend Simon Lewis would tell me off for such behaviour (and does!). He’s a big believer in not holding up the plot.


  2. Pingback: More Blake-ishness and how to avoid the wedding « Lane7

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