Sunday, April 17, 2011

tropical house

... or rather, the doors out of the Tropical House in Kew Gardens, which were full of bluebells and tulips and flowering fruit trees - we'd missed the daffodils, but were there at just the right season for nesting swans and moorhens ... It is such a long time since I've been, and have been meaning to go back for years (I suspect that the last time I was there was 1972, and, indeed, during daffodil season, with Mark Holloway and Robert Collingwood and Mark Sutton-Vane, and I remember reading Sartre - Nausée, indeed - on the train on the way home and thinking - yes!   That's it!   He's nailed it!   That's how life feels!).

And even before that, I'd written a short story in my O level English Composition exam set in the tropical house, with a chase scene set among the branches of the tall palm trees, with the pursuer and the pursued (I cannot for the life of me remember the circumstances) hurtling up the white spiral staircase, and along the galleries, and down again.   And all of that was before they'd managed to breed the amazing jade flowering vine, or - outside - constructed the slightly nervous-making swaying treetop walk, or renovated the little brick house with the Marianne North paintings - all of which were highlights of today.   And indeed, I'd forgotten whole chunks of it, including (oddly, for me) the fact that there's any water in it, anywhere.   So in many ways it felt like an entirely new place, which I hadn't totally expected, and was a real reminder about the fickleness of memory.

1 comment:

  1. Your words as well as the photo itself a great jog to memory. Kew is one of my favorite places in England. When I was researching the first book I spent a few weeks working in their library and archives, I think mostly so that I could walk through the gardens on the way to work. I particularly like the giant lily-pad they have growing in one of the glass-houses (Victoria regia), which inspired the book cover... . Anyway, thanks for prompting my memory too.