I’m just back from London, where I’ve been having an interesting few days. The principal reason was to spend a day filming for a documentary on Ed, though I hoped also to wedge in a visit to my agent, see a friend, visit one of the few shoe-shops I trust, go to a branch of Ryman’s for the kind of notebooks I like, and to check some last minute details in the British Library for an article on Hrotsvitha. All these goals were achieved, I’m happy to say. I don’t like filming. We spent the morning in the Tate archives engaged in pantomime — that is, we were in the archive itself, where readers don’t penetrate, taking boxes off shelves, and ‘making discoveries’. One problem is that if you know how to do something right, it goes somewhat against the grain to do it wrong: reordering the letters in the folder, for instance, and all manner of unsafe handling. They wanted me to show off various things in letters using my left hand, so as not to put my right hand in the way of the camera, which is really quite hard to do and certainly not very good for these quite fragile documents. After that we piled into various vehicles and headed for New Bond Street, had a rather nice lunch in a very old-fashioned trattoria, where we met up with the ebullient millionaire who is funding this enterprise, and went off to Ed’s gallery. In that bit of London, even the rain seems to be gilded; and you can hear a gentle sussurrus of enormous amounts of money quietly moving about. The interview went reasonably well, I think: I said some quite interesting things and wasn’t unduly long-winded about it, but we kept having to stop because of sudden motorcyclists or something going beep in the next room and start again. After a while you begin to feel that the experience has all the charm of going to the dentists, though admittedly not as painful: you’re trapped in a chair under a battery of lights, and not even given dark glasses. But at least all the people involved were very professional and very intelligent, so it wasn’t all that bad. One thing which surprised me considerably is that filming hasn’t gone digital. You’d think it would, but no. Quantities of carefully labelled high-definition cassettes were piling up in the PA’s rucksack. I did buy myself a pair of shoes, and found a tube of the toothpaste I prefer (Tesco’s seems to have done some dark deal with Colgate because though they offer a whole bay of different toothpastes, when you look more closely, it’s Colgate all the way). I bought one thing I hadn’t meant to, a rather nifty folding hairbrush, which was a pound in the Tiger shop. I don’t think I’m very good at being a Consumer.

One Response to “Travels”

  1. Jon Says:

    I’m quite surprised the interview wasn’t on digital. Most these days are using HD DV cameras, which are disconcertingly tiny. Problematically tiny, even, as light cameras are much harder to hold steady.

    William Gibson said that the future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed. Clearly, this applies equally to the past.

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