Sitting in Woodbrooke, the Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, waiting for our course to begin, and giving the iPhone version of WordPress blogging software a try.
I used to come here a lot back in my Quaker years, and Jennie still does as her doctoral studies are supervised by Woodbrooke tutors. For me it feels odd and slightly painful; I feel a kind of ‘sect envy’ that I can’t be part of the Quaker tribe.
On the lawn there is a labyrinth. As well as being an apt metaphor for an undercurrent of lostness, this summons memories: of the one at Norwich Cathedral that I walked after lighting a candle for a friend who had died untimely, and of the one on a set depicting Oxford negotiated by Laurel and Hardy in grotesque but curiously numinous slapstick in a film I watched last week. The significant and the stupid seem intertwined and I can’t easily unravel them.
Was just reading about Thomas de Quincey, who in his urban rambles ‘came suddenly upon…knotty problems of alleys, such enigmatical entries, and such sphinx’s riddles of streets without thoroughfares’ that he ‘doubted, whether they had yet been laid down in the modern charts of London.’ Later in life he wrote that ‘the perplexities of my steps in London came back and haunted my sleep’…
Hopefully that won’t happen to me, though napping I had strange dreams of Gadarene swine rushing gratefully into the lashing grey sea into which Doug McLure threw the narrative of The Land That Time Forgot, this time wearing a suit instead of animal skins. An obvious side effect of having come here straight from three days at a marketing conference.
Pics below: Woobrooke labyrinth, and BT Convention Centre from earlier this week.