I was eagerly awaiting the post today – expecting an advance copy of Russell Brand’s brilliant autobiography ‘My Booky Wook’. Among its many virtues I think it will enter the canon of great London books – one particular passage where Russell leads a troupe of homeless men down a windswept Oxford Street in search of heroin put me in mind of a latter day Patrick Hamilton.
But along with said book came a slim brown envelope postmarked KT TW & GU. Inside a wonderful hardback Bartholomew’s road map of Britain ‘The Spotless Way’ – undated but most likely early 1950’s. Also a torn page from a book with a picture on one side of an old man of the road (the kind of character that Nick talks about in the video below) a man fused with his environment. On the reverse of the page a poem by William Barnes (the man in the picture?) ‘Aunt’s Tantrums’ written in rich dialect: ‘Why ees aunt Anne’s a little staid/ But kind an’ merry, poor wold maid!’. Also a leaflet advertising ‘Africa Contemporary Record – Available July 1975′.
No note, no name, no return address. I know nobody in that part of the country from where this was posted.
The resonance of the contents is multiple and profound. The Road Atlas and poem in dialect directly relates to a documentary idea I’m developing and yesterday got a call saying that I had a meeting to pitch the idea to a Tv channel. The title of the poem – I have an aunt gravely ill in hospital. The photo relates to the conversation I had with Nick last night.
Who could have sent it? A reader perhaps?
Last night I finally ventured inside Nick Papadimitriou’s ‘Deep Library’. I filmed an hour of Nick talking about his collection, a sample of it you can watch here. We’re polishing off a treatment for a full-length ‘Deep Topography’ documentary that we’ll shoot throughout next year. Please leave comments – we like them.