Friday, May 19, 2006

Heavenly Vaults and wonderful Spaces

I visited the British Library the other day to do some research on my next novel, The Crimson Bed. This is to be set in Victorian London with a Pre-Raphaelite background. So I spent a wonderful few hours reading the letters of Dante Gabriel Rossetti to Jane Morris and Fanny Cornforth, two of his great friends and loves as well as the inspiration for many of his later pictures in oils of sensuous, lushly beautiful women. The British Library at Euston is a very modern, spacious building and well worth a visit for the exhibitions and the shop where great goodies are for sale for the book lover.
But oh, how I do miss the Round Room of the old Library that used to be at the very heart and centre of the British Museum at Bloomsbury! There was nothing to compare with the sensation of climbing up the steps of the Museum as if entering a great temple. Then passing through the milling, excited, noisy throng in the hallway and through the barriers and into a peaceful, quiet, spacious room that took one’s breath away. It was totally round, a glorious eggshell-blue in colour, and above one rose the high, gold-decorated dome like some heavenly vault. One sat in a leather chair at a leather covered desk with one’s precious books and the thought was always there…did Dickens sit here, or Karl Marx or any other great writer who has used this hallowed room? It made me think of my author acquaintance, Colin Wilson, who used to spend his time there as a penniless young man, sheltering from the elements and writing The Outsider, his famous book of the 1960’s which earned him the dubious title of “Angry Young Man”.
To be amongst these men and women was to be among the great and surely this would rub off even on me?
Speaking of heavenly vaults makes me remember a dear friend called Bill Bendon whom I knew in my early teens. He was then in his fifties, a real father figure whom I loved very much. One night I dreamt a vivid dream. He came to me in this dream and taking my hand we rose upwards into a beautiful golden vault full of light and beauty. I felt so incredibly happy there. A few days later a friend rang to say Bill had died.

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Favourite Quotes

  • My home is my retreat and resting place from the wars: I try to keep this corner as a haven against the tempest outside, as I do another corner of my soul. Michelle de Montaigne
  • Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony: Mahatma Gandhi
  • Friends are people you can be quiet with. Anon.