BRIGHTON, Sandpiper and Rick
BRIGHTON, Mr.Watkin's Library


If I had any illusions the rest of Occasional Thoughts generated any readers, this section would, I anticipate, detain no passing trade other than those looking for more pictures.I felt the need here to remember what galvanised me. And the acquisition and occasional reading of books comes high on the lst. A major section of my waking thoughts during the day is devoted to the Book.I rarely burble on about the subject unless in the company of such obsessives as David Plumtree. My lectures chastely skirted the minutae of collecting, storage and implementation. Only in elaborate booklists at the end of lecture notes I hinted at the density of reference, most of it beyond the walls of institutional libraries.

As I survey the juiciest books on the walls throughout the house. remembering my finest intentions, I chide myself with neglect. But then I recall one aside from John Gage."Well, there's reading and reading..." his voice here tailing off, leaving a mischievous glint in his eye.

This from the man whose books rejoiced in lead lined slabs of bibliographic references, pages of reading lists, variants and if you were lucky, the occasional translation from the French, German and Spanish. This from a man too whose errata slip in one publication required an erratum slip all of its own. Much to his own amusement, I may add.

But the encouragement was there from John, to skim or to scrutinise depending on the value of the text, and how much time was at your disposal. It sanctioned the acquisition of books that might come in handy eventually. David Watkin whose private library I came to know well, was acquired out of genuine intellectual curiosity but allowed him to reach at any time of the day or night for Cruden's Crudities, Hollingsed's Chronicles, or Johnson's Dictionary in the first edition. In his case a burning thought that had possessed him on the film set could be addressed the minute the taxi deliveerd him back to his house in Sussex Mews. Should a musical point needed to be made, he could do the same with his CD collection.

The personal research project could be advanced from the usual and anticipated academic sources, but serendipity plays a larger role in learning, more than many scholars would permit.

Each book on the shelves has its own back story, which I have tried to outline above. Central to its profile is from whom I bought it, and under what conditions it was acquired. No book or image exists solely of itself. In drug crazed reveries I might well have glimpsed seedy figures clinging to each binding, envious customers, ungrateful students, chrlish shopkeepers, and my own furtive guilt, hanging like ectoplasm, over the book I never opened.