Fairyland 2

Tuesday, November 8

About 30,000 steps yesterday. I slept hard.

My flight is not til 4:30 pm, and I awoke about 5 am.

I rolled back over and rested but couldn’t sleep.

I went down for what I would call breakfast.

Coffee. A tiny bottle of diet coke. A greasy sausage atop a hollowed heel of bread. A few slices of cucumber to keep me honest. A few bites of chocolate-filled croissant.

I was seated before a long wall of glass—a mezzanine above Paddington Stations trains and ticketing. I watched the vast train station wakening below.

Up to my room to rest a bit more before heading to Harrods for souvenirs.

A tin of loose tea certainly. I’m running low at home. I will wander a bit, searching for something I cannot live without.

I think I will have plenty of time to walk back, crossing Hyde Park and then onto the path along the Serpentine.

I will watch the waterfowl. And the people walking here and there.

Then back up to Paddington, where I will pack—leisurely, I hope—and then catch the Express to Heathrow to be on time to wait and wait—better early than late.

I love this city.

My last stop yesterday was the British Library, where I picked up an exhibition guide and a map to Fairyland matted on linen and rolled in a protective tube.

The British Library Guide and Map

I will likely hang it up at home.

One should have a reference on getting around there. It could be a dreadful place to get lost. Even worse, a wrong turn could prove… problematic.

I know because I have been there. If you have read any of the recent Round and Round stories, I offer them as proof. Although, damned if I can remember a single blade of grass there.

But better safe than sorry should I return to Fairyland.

I am a “guide” guy when it comes to strange and novel places.

I took the Hammersmith Line back from the Library. It lets out at the very back of Paddington Station. I wandered back the aisles and halls, steps and walkways, turns and bends until I was at the front—where the trains let out.

I took a long hot bath. Soaking the city and soreness out.

Then I rested a bit on clouds of white cotton sheets. Then darkness came, and I rose to face the evening.

One last night in London. Was I bold enough to go to L’Escargot? Odd to be there alone?

I took the Bakerloo to Piccadilly. Oddly, the streets weren’t crammed with kids and tourists. I made my way to Greek Street through Chinatown. The thousands of red paper lanterns strung above. Impossible food smells to wander through.

“What’s that?”


Up Greek to a dark L’Escargot. Closed Monday. Maybe out catching snails?

Down, down Charing Cross. Always gently downhill—the slope to the river.

Past lights and sounds and people and vehicles. Watching my step. Protecting my space.

No place interested me.

Too commercial. Too touristy. Too weird. Closed on Monday.

Well, a walk to celebrate my last night is not dreadful. Rather, it is joyful and better than risking a strange table.

I sought what I know. Below Trafalgar is the Sherlock Holmes. Not too packed, but no open table to stake my claim and whose number to use as a drop off for food ordered at the bar.

A nice young woman suggested I could check upstairs. She had a metal ring swinging from her septum.

“You can get that removed,” I wanted to say, trying not to look only there, as if it were a pendulum moving back and forth—hypnotizing me.

I ordered a pint to ponder what to do. She pulled the handle 3, 4, 5 times—pumping the ale up from the basement barrel below.

She smiled, and my gaze went from eyes to mouth to the shiny bauble in between. I turned my gaze down to the pint lest I become mesmerized.

I carried my glass outside. I could eat at one of the sidewalk tables. Too weird to be the only one out in the dark and cold though.

Setting my empty glass down, I walked down the alley and through the Arches. No pub or bistro is irresistible. Over to Embankment Place—the wide pedestrian street often filled with walkers going to and from the stations. (On Saturday, that was where I encountered thousands and thousands heading to Trafalgar for a Palestinian protest.)

Gordon’s Wine Bar. I know that place. The garden entrance is closed by construction. I stepped in the street entrance and down very, very narrow steps to the cavern.

At the ancient bar, I asked if they were still serving food.


I ordered a pate and a scotch egg. Health food.

Pate and Scotch Egg

“Amontillado, please.”


How often do you get to sample a sip from an old cask of Amontillado?

I stepped away to a narrow unoccupied wall shelf to put my drink and an elbow upon.

“Well, it could be better. It could be worse.”

Two plates arrived and then a third with bread. Too many things! I splayed my hands at the inanimate things with the dual meanings of “why?” and “what should I do?”

I picked at the things on the narrow plank and soon gave up.

Back up and out into the chill blackness. I wandered a couple of streets and headed downhill to the Embankment Underground station.

The train rolled and shook and scraped and screeched until I was back at Paddington.

“To a pub to watch football?”

No. Too many steps today already.

Up to the room to write and rest and then sleep.

A good long day. A train journey to the Tower. A foot journey back through churches, St Paul’s, the Bank Of England, the British Museum, the British Library and many stops and sidebars along the way.


A free day—kind of. The flight isn’t until 4:30. Heathrow is only 15 minutes away via the Express.

I check my phone to see what time Harrods opens. I want to get a tin of loose tea. My tin at home is running low.

10 a.m.

The tube to South Kensington and a short walk. 30 minutes to Knightsbridge from the hotel.

Of course I leave early. And I arrive early. It is an interesting neighborhood to wander around.

Outside the store, there’s a man with a hawk on his arm.

Man with Harris Hawk

He explains it is to keep the pigeons away from Harrods.

“Does it work?” a guy asked.

“Do you see any pigeons?” The man chuckled. “He had one this morning.”

“What does he do with it?”

“Eats it.”

“How old is he?”

“22,” he said. “They can live to 30.”

I wander away and try to time it so I’m back at 10.

At 10:02, I enter Harrods. Amazingly empty. Staff outnumbers me ten to one.

I head to the Food Halls—usually packed with tourists and locals. The former gawking. The latter shopping.

The liveried staff stand at attention behind or in front of their counters expectantly. When I was in here on Thursday, I couldn’t get to the teas. Now I have the whole range to myself.

I choose a tin or Harrods #14. And I can’t resist a “tea book.”

It has four little boxes inside. I can drink each of them. Other “volumes” in the series have varieties I’m not interested in. There are seven in all, I think. I’m sure you could find them online.

Chai? No.

I pick up some coffee for a friend. Actually, the tin is the gift. I don’t imagine the contents merit the effort or expense.

So, I go to “checkout.” I’m the first sale for the three lined up before me.

“Would you like a bag?”

Well, yeah… I’m not juggling three tins back.

“Six pounds.” A canvas tote is held up for my inspection.

“Paper or plastic is fine,” I reply.

“We don’t have them anymore.”

I know when I’m being held up. I know when I’m stymied as well.

Harrods… they do things like this because… they can.

So I head up Knightsbridge til I can cross the street and get to the park.

A tourist toting a Harrods bag. A walking advert.

I cross the wide dirt path where I haven’t seen a horse for decades.

There’s a troop of Horseguards on black steeds—50?—heading towards me—50 yards away.

“You there, sir!” I’m off to the side taking—well—a photo. “You! With the camera! Onto the sidewalk!” One of the police on horseback escorting the soldiers is speaking to me through some kind of amplifier.

I take two steps onto the pavement and await my private parade. There’s no one else in sight.


I love walking. You never know what will cross your path—or whose path you will cross.

The unmistakable sound of—are they “hussars”?

The metal accouterments jangling and clanging. The leather slapping. The hooves clopping. The beasts snorting and blubbering.

It is all very 19th century. The bright low morning sun in my eyes adds to the otherworldly aura. The backlit troopers are surrounded by a vignette of bleaching light.


Horsemen pass by…

I stand and watch the last of them disappear toward… “Horseguards.”


I sigh and turn and head across the park I have crossed so many times before.

It is a fall morning. Cold but bright blue above. I come to the Serpentine—that long narrow pond in the middle of a huge city. Bird life abounds. Swimming, flying, walking about on land.

There are many benches along its perimeter. They start and stop as the path becomes regular and then wanders away from the shore. I am in no rush. Plenty of time to walk back. Rest. Pack. Catch the train. Go through all the airport hurdles.

I stop at a lonely bench and sit down. They all face the water.

When I am too old to wander,
set me on a bench in the park
where I can watch the swans
sail the Serpentine
Sun to my face
An autumn breeze from my lee
I will watch and think and dream
Forgetting and remembering
in this timelessness
The light off the water will warm me
I will doze in comfort
Dream and bid time return
Your head will be upon my shoulder
Your arm inside mine
All those years ago
and I can feel it still
When I sit upon the park bench
forgetting and remembering


Back up and on the path.

I leave the park and wend my way through the neighborhoods.

“Look Left” before crossing.

Back up to Praed Street and the old Great Western Royal Hotel, where so many happy stays have been.

Up to my room. I take off the too warm clothes and fall into clouds of white sheets. I pile the pillows behind my head and write.

It gives me peace.

It gives me solace.

It makes the time pass.

I write in cool soft comfort because I feel I should.

“A writer writes because he must. He ‘needs’ to,” William Meredith told me long ago.

I wish I’d felt that need decades ago. Now I do.

Now it gives some purpose to the times—in between.

Then up and down to the trains.

I whiz through the Heathrow hurdles.

I’m upgraded to the British Air Lounge. Too much fantastic food. I wish I could drink as was my wont.

On board the flight to Dulles.

The plane roars round me.

Hours until I am home.

The painful part of travel.

I don’t do well sitting and watching the minutes creep by. It reminds me of school days and the big round white face clock face hung on the wall above the chalkboard. Its hands crept round so slowly.


Home in bed.

Giles is happily curled up next to me.

When I got to the warehouse about 11 p.m. last night and let him out, he ran circles and bucked and danced for joy—frolicking in his freedom.

I guess the clocks changed while I was gone.

The phone reads that it is just after 5 a.m. The rest of the clocks in the house are inaccurate, I presume.

So, I’m really not sure when I got back to Frederick from Dulles.

I breezed through the new high-tech customs. With Global Entry, I just walk up to a machine and look into. It focuses on my face and then a screen tells me to move on. I walk to the customs agent, and he says, “Welcome back, Charles,” and waves me through. I didn’t have to take my passport out. It took about 30 seconds. The wait for my luggage was much longer.

I suppose the drive back felt like 3 or 4 a.m.

I had just flown over Frederick a couple of hours earlier. The flight path is not too far from my home. The vast forest was a dark spot extending far to the west.

It was good to get back into the warehouse. It looked pretty good. Merry and Pippin were dozing in their pen. I had to wake them up. We went out into the dockyard to let Giles out of the big pen. He yowled in a combination of pain and pleasure. All three enjoyed their brief run.

Then home.

Everything was covered in a few inches of dead brown leaves. The car crunched up the driveway. The security lights came on, and I saw the forest floor was now carpeted completely. There are still plenty of leaves on the trees.

I started mentally ticking off the chores ahead. I switched off the alarms and went inside. The house is a jungle—potted plants with their fronds protruding are everywhere. The place is littered with flora.

Another chore.

I go down with a big tray of ashes from the woodstove. Though I’m sure they are cold after a week, I pour them into the little steel “trash can” downstairs on the front porch. I turn on the well pump and the water heater. Then back up and out to retrieve some twigs to start a fire. Supposedly it is over 60 outside, but the house is chill. It comes to life after one match. I was too tired to drag the luggage in. There’s nothing I need but warm clothes and bed. Giles happily leaped up and immediately curled.

What will I do with him when the cold weather comes? He won’t be able to stay outdoors when it is freezing.

Another chore to ponder.

The sun is coming up. 6:45. The view to the valley is now yellow and orange. But soon the trees will be bare.

More chores.

Is it 4 or 5? The clocks here at home all disagree. My iphone says 4. My “atomic” clock 5. The clocks on the microwave and stove have variations but are closer to 5. When there are power interruptions up here, those two lose time. Often they will be blinking when I get home. Blinking is their way of confessing they are wrong.

It is Thursday morning. I trust the iPhone is correct. I decided to roll over and sleep some more though my body—still on London time—feels it is certainly 5 hours later—give or take an hour.

Time can be very confusing when even the clocks disagree.

There were a couple of sweet dreams. As so often happens, I was sure I’d remember them and did not waken enough to record them. Now they are gone but for the good feeling they left.

The house is in the low 60s. There’s a smolder in the woodstove. I knew last night there was no need to stoke. It is supposed to get up to 72 today in Frederick, Maryland.

It will be a glorious November day. The mountain is still red and gold and yellow in its fall attire.

November Sunrise

The sunrise has moved south into the forest. It won’t return for six months.

What will life be like in six months? It has certainly changed in the last six.

A glorious day as living things end with the closing of the year.

Wednesday was a recovery day. I didn’t feel very good. The long flight took a lot out of me.

But it was good when I walked into the giant warehouse building that is my other home.

Good until I found that about a third of the people I work with were out with plague.

I walked around the building, assessing what shape we were in. There are a lot more books than when I flew out, so I know I will need to restart mining to make space.

“Larry brought 400 some. The AAUW over 800 boxes,” Clif recited a litany of deliveries that arrived while I was gone.

This is a time of year when people unload as well. In preparation for the holidays and cruel winter after, they clear things from their homes.

“Your bulbs came in,” Kelly tells me.

Boxes of Bulbs

“And the olive oil.”

Four boxes from Lecce, Italy.


Before I left some, we received some hoarder’s newspaper collection. Two pallets of 50-pound boxes. I’d forgotten.

“How many can you use?” I ask Jessica, who sometimes needs newsprint for book wrapping projects.

“Just one.”

I should pulp them, I think to myself.

The work that someone took to carefully store yesterday’s news.

Newspaper Boxes

“Clif, take the smaller pallet down to Dock 2. I’ll take them home and use them as mulch.”

I figure I can repave some of the paths in print. Then cover the paths with wood mulch. The thick papers can level ruts and bumps. It will block weeds from rising next spring and summer.

A chore.

Making something of nothing.

It’s what I do.

Once I catch up on the paperwork and emails and problems that require my attention, I go out and set myself up to work on carts.

It was fun to be back in the saddle. A nice signed limited Vonnegut. A Lolita first. A massive pile of modern leather reprints of important medical works. (The doctors that subscribed to those via mail are getting to the age where they are downsizing—voluntarily or by force.) And so many more…

I was tired and sore, and it felt like it was five hours later.

I decided it would be beneficial to go home for a bit. I drove the truck filled with bulbs and newspaper and olive oil. The dogs were thrilled to see me, and I them. I let them out one at a time. We shuffled through the four-inch carpet of fluffy dead brown leaves. I unloaded the bulbs and olive oil into the chilly garage. The world about me was golden and crimson. Little flutters of color wafted down from high above. They hit the earth with soft slaps.

Then I felt a little guilty and drove back to work. Though I felt like it was evening, the clock said it was midafternoon.

More books. More carts. Until it was Maryland quitting time.

Back home again.

I felt compelled to do “some” chores. I fired up the blower and gingerly hoisted it onto my still sore shoulder. The leaves flew like waves off the driveway and down the slope, off the sidewalks and porches out into the wilder gardens, off the deck and its high drop onto the forest floor. I had enough energy to load a cart of firewood. I lay the big black iron wood ring atop it and ferried it from the barn to the side porch.

A sure sign of winter—firewood replacing the cacti and succulents by the entry door.

I felt the need to eat healthy. Boullion. Then canned tuna atop romaine lettuce. I watched some The Rockford Files which I remember enjoying as a kid. It was pretty terrible.

So tired. Time for bed. But what time was it? The clocks all disagreed. Tonight I will hold a parliament of timepieces so they are all on the same stroke once again.


I am very sure it is 5:15 a.m. All the clocks agree. Even the one on the laptop upon which I am writing this.

The past week was so full of things. I wonder how many I can put down?

Let’s go back to Monday. Gerry had flown back Sunday afternoon. We met at the National Gallery that morning. I was already in there visiting old friends—Vermeer, da Vinci, Boccaccio… the Devil.

The Devil

There was hardly anyone there. I had the dark little box of a room containing the da Vinci “cartoon” to myself. A rarity. We were exchanging texts about where to meet.

“How about the Van Gogh room? Gallery 43.” He agreed, and I headed that way—toward the Impressionist rooms.

He had enthralled me with some of his book stories. He specializes in rare autographs and manuscripts and signed books. (I mean “astronimally” rare.) Among his tales, he told me of Van Gogh letters he had. The exotic content and insights. Now I know more about Van Gogh.


We wandered about the galleries so rich with color and form. I’ve traveled alone so long. It was edifying to be with a kindred spirit. We chatted about our pasts and presents and tastes and knowledge. Fortunately, many things matched very well. Although I’m a bookseller who uses a “shovel.”



Gerry uses a scalpel.

I’ve lost so many good friends in the last few years. It was heartening to find a new one to fill the aching gap. I knew he had to get back to his hotel and leave for Heathrow, but we kept walking among the “Masters.” He wanted to stop in at the Portrait Gallery next door. It has reopened after several years of closure due to renovation. He wanted to buy some postcards or other images to send along to clients—the image matching what he had to offer as stimulation.

I didn’t want to hold him up and said I thought I would head down to The Sherlock Holmes Pub just on the other side of Trafalgar. He said he’d join me. We sat at a small cozy table and talked books and people. He had some great astronaut stories. I think Gerry is the type that can quickly befriend just about anyone. He had anecdotes of Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins and many other heroes from an era of human exploration. I don’t think the world will see their like again. Future explorers will be computer and AI guided. “Humans” are becoming obsolete.

Then it was time to part. He to his hotel. Me to start walking the streets of London. He had recommended an iconic “department” store Liberty—which I was unfamiliar with. It is a vast 5 or 6 story Tudor-like building near Carnaby Street. I nearly bought some handmade baby toys. I did take pictures in case I wanted to order them online. I did buy a couple of Advent Calendars for my two sons. I get them every year. These had fancy chocolates inside. I already bought a couple of Lego Advent Calendars back in the states.

Then I stopped at Shakespeare’s Head and had a pint and watched football (soccer.)

I lingered over it a long time.

The National Portrait Gallery.

I had gone in Saturday afternoon while Gerry was out shopping with his London friend. Saturday was a day of protest in the area. When I got off at Charing Cross, there were crowds of people moving toward Trafalgar Square. Many carried Palestinian flags and wore Middle Eastern garb. I stopped at the Sherlock Holmes Pub and had a lunchtime cask ale.

Sherlock Lunch Cask Ale

Then I went out and skirted the vast chanting mass of humanity and made my way to the Portrait Gallery. I think the demonstrations—police presence everywhere, helicopters buzzing above, small groups marching toward Trafalgar carrying placards and banners—kept most sane people away. The gallery was very lightly attended. I was able to walk up to any face I wanted unobstructed. Shakespeare, Keats, Milton, Queens, Kings, Brontes… So many iconic images. It was a joy to be able to visit it again.

Unfortunately, reception was terrible. I guess the ether was just too packed with tens of thousands of people trying to communicate at once in a rather tight space. I knew generally where the restaurant was but couldn’t remember its name. Tonight would be our third dinner and third show in three nights. Gerry had chosen Backstairs Billy. It concerns the relationship of the Queen Mother and her flamboyant gay assistant in the 1970s. I wandered around the theater district and finally got to Cecil Court. It is a pedestrianized street only a few hundred yards long. Diagon Alley was modeled after it in the Harry Potter books. It was getting dark, but warm welcoming light poured out of all the little book and print and antique shops. All are very old, and in the dimming day, it was very much like time travel. These shops would have looked very much the same a hundred years ago. I was in a holding pattern awaiting instructions, so I wandered in and out of the little shops. One, Goldsboro Books, specializes in modern fiction. They have a lot of collectibles—Ian Fleming, etc… locked in glass cases. But they also have hundreds—or thousands—of signed copies of new or recent releases.

I had very little knowledge of the current scene. My book life operates in the past. Still, I was intrigued by the beauty of these modern British bindings and jackets. I had never heard of any of the writers or their books. But many were touted with “Bestseller” stickers or “Award” labels. Some of the titles and all the bindings were appealing. I wandered in and out of the shop three, four, more? times. Did I appear suspicious? Did the clerk think I was a shoplifter waiting for a good opportunity? Real customers came and went. Some were picking up books put aside for them. Every book on display was wrapped in a protective plastic cover—a “Brodart.” I wanted a book. I had finished the one I brought. I’d read every title in the place and finally chose this:

Death of a Bookseller

What could be wrong about this? Death of a Bookseller.

Gerry’s signal finally came through. The restaurant was only a couple hundred steps away. It was a good meal—not as memorable as the last two. Then it was showtime.

It was a delightful British comedy and period piece. It even had 2 corgis in the cast. They would dash across the stage at various times, delighting everyone.

We’d seen Rebecca the night before. It was a musical based on Daphne du Maurier’s novel. I had suggested it knowing nothing about it. My trip to Cornwall last spring was the inspiration, I suppose. It was… interesting. Kind of a combination of The Phantom of the Opera and a Disney romance. Song after song was belted out. And then more and more numbers. Many were designed to elicit applause—with that pregnant pause after the last note. It was a very “memorable” show.

“Re—BEC—a! You…”

After we went to the iconic Ivy. It is a haunt of the rich and famous. The meal was lavish and luscious.

Really—a whole new level.

Back to Monday

I was on my own. It was the only full day for myself.

I decided to Tube access the city to Tower Hill. I got there early—about 9. It didn’t open til 10. So, I just walked around the perimeter of the castle and then headed into the old “City.” As usual, I had no firm plans. I trusted serendipity. I’m usually happy with the results. I wandered into 4 or 5 old churches—seeing the steeple to guide my way there. All the old London churches have some history and links with events and people.

Then I headed to St. Paul’s. I hadn’t been in a long time. I walked right in with no line.

I visited the crypt and passed Nelson and Wellington. Then to the artist’s corner where I visited Blake.

Blake Crypt

Holman Hunt, J.M.W. Turner, Millais, Cruikshank…

Back up the main floor. I gazed up at the tower. 528 steps.

Nope. (As it was, my day ended with 30,000 steps.)

I paid homage to John Donne and the absurdly heroic statue of Dr. Johnson.

Then I lit a candle, kneeled and prayed to my parents and brothers—all gone.

Candle at St. Paul's

Out in the churchyard, there was a large memorial service going on. Remembrance Day. Trumpets, old veterans, officials in robes and caps.

I had some old money I’d been carrying. I couldn’t spend it in Cornwall I was told. Expired?!

“You have to change them at a bank.”

We hadn’t found an open bank in all of Cornwall last spring. Gerry had told me the only place to do it was at the Bank of England. I knew it was down here somewhere in the city. My phone guided me there. I was sure I would be rebuffed, but instead I was warmly invited inside and given a form to fill out. I’d gotten the bills in 2018 or 19—before COVID. I was still sure this was not going to work. I was taken into a room of old teller counters that felt very much like Gringott’s. There were a dozen or so people ahead of me of all different types and languages. When my turn came, I stepped to the glass window and passed my form and bills through. In a few minutes, the teller was counting out about 500 pounds of viable money. It was worth the side trip for the experience—and the cash.

From there, I headed to Fleet Street. I was to visit another favorite place—Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese.

On the way, I passed the site of The Mermaid Tavern where Ben Jonson, John Donne and other members of the Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen met—maybe Shakespeare too. The Globe is just across the river. Though it is long gone, the area still evokes ancient times. Bread, Pudding, Milk Streets. All Hallows’ Churchyard. St. Mary-le-Bow Churchyard with its large statue of Captain John Smith “given by the State of Virginia.” Standing on the street where its door might have been, I felt a chill as perhaps ghosts of writers past passed through me to drink and chat.

I stepped into the low-ceiling dim-light of Cheshire Cheese—virtually unchanged for hundreds of years. The names of all the reigning monarchs who have ruled while Cheshire existed are painted on the wall outside. King Charles III has been recently added.

Cheshire Cheese

I had an ale and wandered around a bit, knowing Dickens and Johnson and… so many others have too.

Then back into the light. Down the alley to Dr. Johnson’s house—closed Mondays.

Down Fleet Street, I turned into the Royal Courts of Justice. An ancient building with a Bear Garden and Robing Rooms. Court Rooms and statues and paintings of judges long gone…

Then a turn to the right and up past theaters—Drury Lane to Great Russell Street and the British Museum. Again, no line to get in.

I wandered through the eons, passing so many favorite icons.

The Roman-era Vindolanda writing tablets.

Vindolanda Tablets

The actual written word is so ephemeral I find it amazing these things could have survived. What treasures will be discovered next?

I need to finish that story about the “First Book.”

I had one final errand. The British Library. I didn’t mention it in my last story, but this was my first stop after dropping my bags off at the hotel. It is a temple to which I must pay homage every visit. There is also always a new exhibition or two each, and I wanted to see what was on.

Fantasy: Realms of Imagination

Fantasy: Realms of Imagination


I knew I would be thrilled. And I was.

You will have to explore it yourself. This has gone on too long.

I went back on this, my last full day, to get the exhibition catalog.

The British Library Guide and Map

It was too heavy to carry around the first day.

Something else must have drawn me back as well. Perhaps a “muse” was involved. For on my first visit, I had seen the original map to Fairyland in the exhibit, but I hadn’t noticed they had a facsimile mounted on linen for sale in the shop. The library had been hacked and were only accepting cash. I happened to have a wad fresh from the Bank of England.

Now I have my own map to Fairyland. It should prove quite useful should I ever return.

Fairyland Map

I had no idea it was this big until just now. It is a bout FOUR feet across. How can I get this framed? (That’s a Post It bottom center for scale.)

For I have been—several times—though I do not know the ways round it. What I saw and experienced you can read here.

Who knows, I may want (or be compelled) to return. I always like to have a guide with me.

Now I need to send this off.

I stoked the fire. Today will be wet and a high of only 50.

Coming home to a warm home with a glowing dragon’s eye will be most welcome.

And in between?

Who knows what the day will bring.

Certainly books will be involved.

4 Comments on Article

  1. Michael Dirda commented on

    Now that’s a column, Chuck! I get tired from just reading about all you pack into a day and then record in words and pictures.
    I see that “Realms of Imagination” carries a preface by my old friend Neil Gaiman. These days, anything remotely related to older works of fantasy seems to bear an endorsement from Neil, which no doubt helps sell copies. Still, I must see what’s in this volume.
    Welcome home!

    1. Charles Roberts replied on

      Thank you so much Michael.
      It is a wonderful exhibition. One amazing thing after another in media from movie props to Margot Fonteyn’s Sleeping Beauty tutu…

      Gaiman’s intro to the exhibition catalog includes a bit of a memoir – getting his first “library card” when the library was in the great hall of the Museum. He lists a litany of the unfindable works he found and read there as a young man (Dunsany e.g.) and which transformed him.

      In the actual exhibit – after an opening screen – kind of an animated title page – Neil has his own screen – maybe 5 feet tall – waist up – and he gives an “in person” verbal intro.

      Sadly, the Library website is still hacked as of today.

      I would like to go back and see it again.

      A wonderful visit to a magical city.


      PS Come visit and search for unknown treasures here when you wish.

      1. Thomas Wixon replied on

        Late as usual but a Great poem!

        1. Charles Roberts replied on

          Thanks Tommy!
          Great to hear from you!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *