I was grumpy to begin with. Never get a hippy to organise anything. It was quickly obvious that mere time didn't operate on this plane - not much use when you've got a date with the girls to do some late-afternoon retail therapy. When we finally did get started, the minibus was too hot, we got stuck in traffic, and I felt queasy. At the first stop I banged my head getting out, and the pain must've opened my Third Eye or something. I wobbled out after our guide, the visionary poet and troubadour Aidan Dun, a commanding figure in a white smock and hairy ethnic hat. He continually rattled a little clapper in his hand. "What's that?" I enquired. "A Zulu shepherd's bell," he replied. But of course!
We circled the Penton, once an earth mound, now a reservoir, beneath which, he assured us, was an Arthurian cathedral. Then we were off to Keystone Crescent by King's Cross, rich in mystic symbolism. All right, when he rapped about making contact with our brothers and sisters in the cosmos, I lost him a bit. But this was stirring stuff.
The British Library delayed and over-budget? "They dug up a Celtic necropolis down there." The King's Cross fire? "Some kind of ritual sacrifice." Dun has been interested in the area since 1973 when "Rimbaud put his hand on my shoulder one night and led me, Virgil to my Dante, through the underworld." Wow, Aidan, must've been some trip!
Still, if you think he's kooky, you should have seen my fellow walkers. Arthurians, mystics, teenagers in tragic trousers: we're talking a lot of pasty-shoes. "Is this then Albion?" enquired one woman, saucer-eyed. "Is Holloway spiritually signifiant?" an Irish woman kept shouting. Dun confirmed that it was. "Because there's a very powerful Druidess imprisoned there at the moment," she said. Eh? Dear God, she meant Roisin McAliskey ... Dun had a very good way of dealing with this stuff: he simply gave an enigmatic smile, which could mean: "Yeah ... you know ... you've got it." Or there again it could mean: "Cuh! You're lapping this up, aren't ya?" Finally we cruised St Pancras churchyard, where Mary Wollstonecraft was buried. "Richard Branson's bought up most of King's Cross and he erects a megastore here over my dead body!" exclaimed Dun. After a short pause, somebody chirruped: "Don't you think it's significant that his company's called Virgin?"
2 From Dillie the spiritually enlightened to Dillie the classicist. Remember how Auden hit the bestseller lists with "Tell Me the Truth About Love", after Four Weddings and a Funeral? Penguin has just brought out a pounds 1.99 minibook called Tales from Herodotus ("As featured in The English Patient"). Apparently, in two days they took advance orders for 20,000 copies. They've even flogged 3,000 copies of the full-length Histories. But alas, no room in either of these to paste love poems, farewell notes or reproductions of cave paintings.Reuse content