Readers of this blog will know that I am a logophile. I love words. I love randomness, coincidences and synchronicity too, not essential likes for a logophile though I’m guessing there’s some sort of cross-pollination. I’m not sure what that makes me other than slightly whacky. I get excited when I discover a connection or a pattern or even something totally new.
As part of Volunteer week, Richmond library treated its volunteers (I facilitate a memoir/biographies reading group) to a visit to Strawberry Hill house, the Gothic palace of Horace Walpole and one of the finest examples of Georgian Gothic revival architecture. Son of the Prime Minster he was a wealthy man and is generally acknowledged as the Prince of Letters, so prodigious was he in his output and subject matter. My time at the Castle was brief as I had kids to collect from school so rushed off before I got to complete the tour. However not before I tripped across the gift shop (tours start there with the purchase of house tickets). And on the shelves these two cards…
Now Serendipity and me have history. The first time I used the word in my writing was back in the nineties as part of my title for an entry to become the Ham and High travel writer of the year. The prize was a 5 star holiday to Thailand and I won it! With a piece on a trip I had made to Slovenia. Serendipity is my driver. And then to discover that Walpole created the word (having read an Arabian fairy tale, The Three Princes of Serendip) was serendipity at play.
I also love magnificence. He declared this on completion of the gallery in his castle and showed false modesty in his declaration. Magnificence is a great find too.
These cool cats were roaming in the lawn. Bronze sculptures by Laura Ford “Days of Judgement”. No tie-in for me. But playful to trip across.
Later I took the train to Waterloo and made my way to the Royal Festival Hall for the readings from the short-listed novelists of the Bailey’s Prize for Fiction, a favourite event on my calendar. I’ve been attending for over twenty years. And yearning to be in their rank for as long too. Of course it would be useful, essential you could say, if I wrote a book. I look at what they’ve chosen to wear, their bearing and posture, their stride across the stage to the podium. All these distractions. Later when they speak about their work, we hear of the sheer hard graft. Writing letters, blog posts is more appealing for now.