I write from a Caffe Nero just off Farringdon Road, before I pay a visit to the folks at Wildkat PR. It’s always satisfying to arrive in Europe early in the morning but I think I surprised my friends Gail and Mark – who are kind enough to host me for part of this trip – when I a dropped the knocker on their Georgian door at 9:00AM on a Sunday morning. Each, along with their lovely kids Sadie and Lana – along with another houseguest Bob – from Michigan like us – all in bathrobes.
Whilst in London, I range far and wide but travel slowly. My issue is that this city has far too many pubs to make a day productive at all, and each one seems to beckon me with their smartly arranged taps of room temperature beer only sold in a handful of places beyond these walls if at all. The Museum Pub is an atmospheric place directly across from the British Museum that I had visited before. After a quick pint there, I zig-zagged across the quiet streets and squares of Bloomsbury. I love the blue plaques, ubiquitous in London, that mark the birthplaces and residents of famous people across the centuries. Nowhere must they be more prevalent than in Bloomsbury, especially for anyone with the remotest interest in literature.
My destination was the Duke of Wellington, a pub in Marylebone where I had last seen Peter Moss, one of my dearest friends and greatest supporters of my work. Peter was tragically killed in Morocco. I have many memories of him, but one of the most enduring is the long afternoon we spent at a sidewalk table chatting for what I’m sure was about five hours. Departing then, I realized that it was perhaps the longest conversation I have had with a friend in years. I could not have imagined that it would be the last time I would see my friend.
The Cecil Sharp House is the home of English folk dance and song. I met Gail and her kids up in Camden to see the place. With a huge room filled with kids and parents, and with a duo of concertina and guitar, it could have been a weekend event in my own Brooklyn neighborhood. The aim of the center is to “establish indigenous English folk arts of England at the heart of cultural life.” “Indigenous” and “English” seem to be two words at odds, when all music and dance is cultural appropriation of one form or another, but I get the point. The house is also the repository of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library where the composer deposited his musical findings.
After a walk up to the top of Primrose Hill for a stunning city view, Gail and I spent time catching up at a Camden Pub before meeting Bob and Diana, another friend, in Covent Garden. Now to prepare for meetings.
— Sean Hickey