Thursday 12th SeptemberBOB MADLE:
Joy is an expert on English culture and traditions and she wanted to make sure the TAFF candidate, just once, spent some time on something other than fans and science fiction. And so she planned the trip to Knole. The trip (which took care of most of Thursday) included a long bus ride through the beautiful rustic English countryside. It takes a trip like this to make one realize that he is covering ground that is so steeped with history that it is almost as if one were reliving the pest. One little town was pointed out to me by Vince as being the birthplace of Shakespeare. The Knole is a huge and ancient castle located in Kent, some 35 or 40 miles from London. It is one of the principal historical landmarks of the area and, although its beginnings are obscure, it is said to date back to the reign of King John, in the early part of the 13th century. The Knole is a massive and sombre structure, built of gray ragstone. It is also said that its 7 courtyards correspond to the days of the week, its 52 staircases to the weeks of the year, and its 365 rooms to the days of the year. In other words, what I am trying to say is, "This shack is like real big!"
Joy, Vince, Sandy and I spent several hours going through the place from stem to stern - or from courtyard to bedroom. The lecturer quite adeptly covered The Knole's history - and it sounded like a history of England. Such names as Queen Mary, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, John Dryden, Queen Elizabeth and John Donne were dropped at various intervals. And, I believe, the names of Thomas More and Jonathan Swift were also mentioned as having some affiliation with The Knole. (This adds a science fictional flavour to The Knole after all!)
After leaving The Knole, we had a delicious repast in a quaint restaurant in the nearby town. This entire town gave me the impression of having existed without change for 500 years. In fact, it reminded me of the old WEIRD TALES type of story about the ancient city that appears only once every thousand years. Yes, I know there was a play with that plot, too - "Brigadoon" was its name. But WEIRD TALES did it first.
We arrived back in London just in time to make the last few hours of the London Circle meeting. All of the Americans were still in town, so there was quite a massive gathering at the Globe. At this stage of the game, one London Circle meeting seems to flow into other London Circle meetings. However, I do remember that there must have been about forty fans present in various parts of the bar. And I in remember having enjoyable chats with Arthur C. Clarke, Sam Youd (John Christopher), John F. Burke, Ron Buckmaster, and several others before the witching hour arrived.
And so, back to Inchmery - with a new series of fannish adventures to start on the morrow.
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