In 1990, I set off for England for a month to research my Richard III novel, “Rings of Passage.” This is my travel journal.
Looking back from 2014: After spending weeks in the country and small cities, London overwhelmed me with its size. It was more than a little intimidating, even though I had previously visited many large cities on the East Coast, as well as the largest cities in California. But nothing prepared me for the feeling of bigness exuded by London. Maybe it wasn’t its size in terms of square miles or population, but the sheer weight of its history. Structures of every era, from medieval times through the days of Swinging London, impressed me at every turn as I walked its streets toward the house called Crosby Hall, a fifteenth century mansion where Richard III often stayed when visiting the city as the Duke of Gloucester. Ironically, 40 years after Richard’s death, the house served as the residence of Sir Thomas More, whose biography of the fallen King painted his reputation black. With some additional help from Shakespeare, this villainous version of Richard has transcended centuries.
Sept 28, 1990
London was a bit overwhelming my first day there. I felt kind of lost, wishing I had company.
First, I took a train into Waterloo, then wandered around until I found the underground (tube). Then I had to figure out which underground train would take me to Victoria, so I could get my tube pass validated. At last I get to Trafalgar Square, where, at last, I decided to get on a tour bus, though I’ve avoided them up to this point.
It was very useful, because I did see all the places I’ve heard about for years – Nelson’s Column, Piccadilly, Hyde Park, the Thames with all its bridges.
We had a Cockney guide from the East End driving the second half of the trip (the first bus broke down). He showed us the church where the Bow Bells are.
“To be a Cockney, you have to be born beneath the sound of these bow bells,” he said.
He showed us the London School of Economics where Mick Jagger went, and the “Bag o Nails” pub where Paul McCartney met Linda Eastman.
When I got off that, I was starving and went to Pizza Hut. Then I got on the tube again to go to South Kensington (Sunny South Kensington, as Donovan says) and make for Richard III’s townhouse, Crosby Hall.
I wandered around there, going through Chelsea (expensive district) to where the house was on Cheyne (Chain-ey) Walk (also the street where Mick Jagger and Marianne Faithfull used to live). It was interesting.
Then I came back to West Byfleet to have dinner. Rosamond had made pizza!
“Rings of Passage” is a time travel historical fantasy, with Richard III as the romantic hero. Wizards control the events of history, but a woman’s love transcends all. Available for Kindle and in paperback from Amazon.com.