March 4th, 2005


Exit This Roman Shell

Tomorrow morning sees me fly to New York. Preparations have been somewhat fractious with the onset of a hefty dose of bronchitis which the anti-biotics have started to shift. I must also admit that morphine supplies liberated earlier in the year were of great help in suppressing the cough reflex. Why bother with Benylin when there's Oramorph to hand? Even at these slight dosages, a pleasant warmth suffused my fevered state and made it almost enjoyable. Aside from all the preparation that wasn't getting done. No, not because of the morphine. Constipation's not so good though.

So, thanks Gay, for the morphine and much else besides. Obviously you didn't give me the M, but darned if I was going to let decent analgesics that actually work be flushed down some pharmacist's sink or their own gullet. I was close to calling off my attendance at the memorial service today, but the more I thought about it, the more I realised that this is something that I should do today amongst all the other things. I'm off the opiates now, so I'll be behaving myself amongst all the politicos and hacks. Ho, ho, ho...

I suppose I could claim that this illness was either some externalised expression of my nervousness about visiting America. Somewhere along the way, I am going to encounter the Old Man. Well, that could be it and I don't pretend I'm not anxious to get to Lawrence. Could be it's something trying to stop me getting there. Fortunately, WSB appears in cameo role as a protecting spirit, a bottle of paregoric, to fight off the virus. Worse may haunt me yet. Or possibly I should just give up the fags.

On Wednesday afternoon, I took a 63 bus down to Peckham Rye to collect my shoes from a cobbler in East Dulwich. He's one of the few who know what they're doing and very reasonably priced. As I walked towards Goose Green, I wondered whether the Rosicrucian Lodge had been converted into flats or, just as possibly in the area, been turned into a charismatic African church. Since I had my camera, I took a short detour, noticing that at each junction into the area there were these new bollards. Public Art. Traffic Calming. The Lodge was still there and as quiet as it has ever seemed. I've never found any mention of it anywhere and I can only conclude that when AMORC was having its London heyday, whenever that was, it bought the place and it is no longer used except as storage. Or rather, it keeps itself to itself. I saw lights once and knocked but there was no reply.

The Lodge is just one of many local curiosities that prompted me to start thinking about the area's history and, in particular, Blake's vision of angelic forces there. It was to be a novel. Perhaps instead, or as preparation at least, I'll go back and document it more fully on my return. There is something not quite right about the area. It's Peckham! I hear you shout. No, that's not it. There is something amiss about it. It may just be the particular balance of architecture and landscape or something, but it's one of those parts of London that still whispers its past. Rye Lane is nothing but medieval even with, and perhaps because of, that long, twisting and narrow stretch of bush meat vendors, nail parlours and mobile phone crackers.

So, that's it. I'm off. It's time to press on with the many errands and other duties of the day. I'll leave you with this song, or rather its instrumental version as my voice isn't quite up to singing yet. There was a suggestion at a Rufus Wainwright board that people could do cover versions of his songs for a possible CD. Much as I might enjoy listening to him, he's not really someone I see myself ever wanting to sing or write like. Anyway, iTunes randomly suggested Pretty Things so I did it. It's maybe gone a bit Led Zep IV with the flutes, but that's the way it went. Here's the mp3 (5.6m@192kbps). It expresses something of the bronchial melancholy of days past.

Pretty Things - The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table

I'll be posting intermittently whilst away and will be picking up email.