Once you start noticing something in London, suddenly it is everywhere. So, once my Blake-o-metre was set, the man seemed to be stalking me. (Quite an achievement considering he has been dead for so long!) I’ve been working near Waterloo and it turns out he used to live pretty much across the road at 23 Hercules Street. He was here in the 1790s and apparently worked on Songs of Innocence and Experience while living in Lambeth. They’ve knocked the house down, but there is a blue plaque on the council-run William Blake Estate which now occupies the site. More interestingly, for those who, like me, might not have been very familiar with his writing, just across the road from the estate at Centaur Street, SE1, there are some railway tunnels which thanks to local arts project, Project Blake, now have bits of Blake-ish poems and images from the Songs ranged at intervals along them. And you can play back recordings of the poems, too.
At the Archbishop’s Park, which you will come to at the other end of the tunnel, Blake features as one of the stops in the Lambeth Millennial Pathway. (This park is where I went to record some of my fiction with Sam Taradash, and in the soundtrack you can hear trains passing by on the overhead tracks that border the park.) The millennial pathway is a curved path that celebrates big dates in Lambeth history, in an original format reminiscent of manholes! No doubt I have been blindly tripping over this one for some time as I walk around the Archbishop’s Park on my lunch break, but thanks to my internal Blake-o-metre it’s suddenly visible. The Blake Society have produced a map of London places with Blake associations, if you’re interested (though I prefer not to look at this too closely myself, in case it interferes with the chance pop-ups thrown up by the Blakeometre.)
If you happen to be planning a trip to the Secret Cinema while it is at Waterloo, you could do worse than scope in a visit to the Archbishop’s Park and the Blake-ish tunnels while you’re in the area. All this is also not too far from all the official Westminster sights, but it’s just possible you may be giving them a miss, at least until things have quieted down a little, post-nuptials. Ah, here’s where I will be, if I do anything wedding connected in the immediate future: at the Sci-fi London Royal Wedding Allnighter which takes in BRIDE OF THE GORILLA, THE CORPSE VANISHES, I MARRIED A WITCH, BRIDE OF THE MONSTER and of course (if I stay awake that long) BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN.