'I love walking in London' said Mrs Dalloway.'Really it's better than walking in the country'
and I felt like Clarissa Dalloway too as I scurried around London on a beautiful day on Friday and revelled in my recent re-read of what may be my favourite Virginia Woolf book.
I also did something I've always wanted to do.
I hailed a taxi and said "The Savoy please"
Prior to this I'd had another Mrs Dalloway moment as the bells chimed midday, the leaden circles did indeed dissolve in the air, enough to make me stop and listen, check for the sign-writing aeroplane and then panic realizing I'd spent far too long in Daunt's Bookshop in Marylebone and was going to be late.
I was even later because "the world wavered and quivered and threatened to burst into flames" and then did just that. Oxford Street closed and the traffic gridlocked because the New Look store had undergone a new look to the tune of a million pounds after a fire.
I was at The Savoy for the Awards lunch for the Romantic Novelist of the Year and meeting up with the Transita authors.Dame Tanni Grey Thompson was the chairman of judges and gave a very funny and entertaining speech.The lunch was splendid and I sat and chatted to Mary Cavanagh, Stella Sykes and Danuta Kean in that sumptuous Art Deco haven that is The Savoy.I had a bit of a spot-the-art-deco prowl around afterwards but my furtive pics came out predictably furtively blurry.
Next I hoofed into Trafalgar Square and the National Portrait Gallery where I wanted to see the exhibition of Women Writers.
I never did find Room 31 and that exhibition because I got distracted by everything else and time was ticking on so I walked up to catch the tube from Covent Garden thus taking in another favourite venue.
More ambling as I listened to the quartet playing there and a young man on the flute who was ever so slightly more accomplished than me.
It was late night opening at the Victoria & Albert Museum and I was on a mission to seek out some textiles, specifically following up some I'd seen in the Penlee Museum in Penzance, hand blocked in St Ives in the 1930's by Crysede and designed by Alec Walker.Never heard of and wanted to find out more but also what a great place to test the "museum" setting on my new camera (silent, no flash...discreet, should have used in Savoy)
Invoking the ancient Law of Sod, textiles was one of the galleries not open late.
In a way closing half of the museum solved my problem because it's vast and easy to waste half a day deciding what to look at first, I had two hours and the shop and a pot of tea to do.
Somehow I ended up in Ecclesiastical.
However I'm never so happy as when I'm gazing at a pot of Earl Grey tea and I suspect the V&A takes the biscuit for nice cafe setting.
By this time I've been on the go for 14 hours so I'm even happier when I arrive here
and put my feet up (sorry, yes that is my shoes resting on the First Great Western soft furnishings) homeward bound for Exeter St Davids for the next 3 hours or so and a peruse of my purchases.
The books to carry me home, Extracts from the Red Notebooks by Matthew Engel,excellent reading.
A new book (to me anyway), The Daphne Du Maurier Companion edited by Helen Taylor and some interesting new writing about an author who is due for a revisit from me.
Finally At the Sign of the Rainbow a book about the 1930's designer Margaret Calkin James who set up The Rainbow Workshops carrying on the ideals of the Omega Workshops and who produced some memorable posters, fabrics, wallpapers and book jackets.An old Woman's Hour piece can be heard here.
On the top there a supply of Moleskine Cahiers which I've decided will be my new Commonplace books.
Yet again I remind myself I must read the instructions for my iPod Shuffle because I had a right old mix and match of Jonie, Annie, Rod, Seth, The Sixteen and a few others I didn't recognize.
But London, I do love you, if only for a day.