The Iceman Cometh…

…or less pretentiously and more accurately, the Heritage Officer doth.  Tomorrow morning at nine o’ clock, actually. On the dot.  Be there or be square.  This has come about because we rang her,  or rather Mr Pimpernel rang her, the phone being an instrument of torture to me.  We wanted  to remind her of our small existence during Esteemed Architect’s month long absence.  You know, in the hope that our Section 60 might not grow mould or silverfish or strange species of flora in the interim.  And her response was that she’d like to come and see what we’re proposing, in situ.  Quite a reasonable request, really.

This is not, btw, the same Heritage Officer as the one who came to the last meeting.  In fact nothing is known of this new one, other than that she sounds about fifteen years old.  So I feel oddly optimistic and rather clean-slatish about it all,  but we shall see.   I still have my private promise to the house that I will eat my hat if things go well.  And I’d rather not.  I don’t think straw or feathers are legal on the eating protocol.

And this surprise visit does at least bring the house to the forefront of my mind again, having slipped a bit into obscurity, so boring and so deathly silent is the planning process.   And at the forefront of my mind it became festooned with yardages of books which in turn sent me scurrying to my picture files for images of libraries.

The room at the front of the house at street level has been designated the book room. 

In my mind for a while it has looked a little like this, but everything is subject to change.

Maybe a smidge darker, like this.

This next one I love and cannot have but as long as I can have all my books it won’t matter too much.  What will Ms Pimp’s generation do for libraries?  Line all their kindles up by colour?  I can’t imagine, being myself of that species who never, ever parts with a book.  Once, I spent six months calumphing around India and sent all my books, when I’d read them, back to the UK.  Still got them.  Natch.  (Salman Rushie makes much more sense, somehow, when you read him in India).   Of course there are a few books, such as anything by Margaret Drabble and a book I read recently, which are so enraging that they have to be thrown around the room (to teach them a lesson) and then dumped with great ceremony into the rubbish bin. But ANYWAY.  Goodness.  The room:

I rather like the look of the trend to order books by colour in much the same way that I like rows of paint samples.  But it would never do for someone who has to have all their books in roughly alphabetical order so that they can, on a whim, suddenly grab one and rummage through it because as a matter of life and death  it is necessary to know how something or other was expressed by someone or other:

 This (only messier) is more how they generally look in my house – like a great tide of paper, forever edging outwards:

Mr P has his bedside drawers stuffed to the gills with books.  I have mine in a leaning tower next to me.  Death by novel.  Forgive me.

A few more

At the moment I’m venturing into the new book by Sebastian Barry.  The translucent beauty of his words. Wasted a bit on me at the moment, if I’m honest, going as I am through some Granny Grunt phase and wanting only the literary equivalent of crumpets and log fires.  Do other people have such phases?

 So anyway, I’m in the rather strange position of wishing that tomorrow comes and finds me chewing my way solemnly through straw or felt.  She’d have to agree to the upstairs bathroom for that, however.  Maybe I should hobble a bit?


14 Responses to “The Iceman Cometh…”

  1. sue from sydney Says:

    So Head Honcho not coming.( Probably in a meeting of far more importance) Keep it light and try and get a few ok’s on what you want. This is only the beginning of you and Beautiful Bureaucracy going at it.

  2. Oh No!! Whatever happened to Book Room Red or our current favourite, F&B Incarnadine, for the Book Room. Maybe a wall of red that tones with the gorgeous Spitalfields’ blues.

  3. If I haven’t fallen in love with your blog already, I would have after seeing all the photos of various (fantastic) libraries. I love, love books and can’t wait to see what you’ll do with your library. I’ll try to send you few photos …soon.

    Keep writing, you are so good at it.

  4. Baby Pimpette Says:

    i love the pictures, i cant wait to come home and shop and search with you xoxo

  5. I love the idea of taking the shelves up to the ceiling but think that this area is a bit dusty from the bridge and I am worried about all that ladder climbing let alone dusting as we get more ancient.
    I am guilty of arranging books in colour, (I had a hot pink and orange period during the sale of our last home) with some slightly edgie titles by Linda Jarvin just to suggest that the inhabitants of the house were not too conservative. Some how these were up against some cook books which sort of took away from that effect but looked great.
    It was a shock when we went to sell that the agent told us to move out more than half of the books off the shelves so the storage looked less cluttered. I like a feast of books.
    Usually we organise the titles in subject matter most of them are art books which decide never to sit on the shelves in an ordered fashion and some like Bill Henson’s photographs need to lie down because they are way too big to sit up.
    There is always the last minute re-arrangement with all the bits and pieces we have gathered. It’s sort of books and associated objects together in themes.
    I have been thinking about vitreens for our collections of objects and a library studio in what might have been used as a drawing room which in my case is an appropriate term. I think that a media room is not at all our style.

    • Anything hot pink and orange I’m on for. But as for the ladders, I wouldn’t plan to use them often. High up shelves are great places for books no-one reads, like psychoanalytic or engineering theory. Once they’re up, they’re up. And I’m with Quentin Crisp on the subject of dust (sort of) – he said that after a certain stage it just stops deepening. I’d be okay with dusty upper shelves, not being given to flying around the room and suchlike, but then I’m a slack tart. I’m trying to imagine vitreens for collections of objects but my osbtinate mind will only provide me with tureens. Which could be interesting, but you’d need small objects I suppose. And no hungry visitors. You could make like the senior Hicks and have tablescapes of objects. Objets, let’s get it right! Jury’s out on media rooms here – the telly has always been an aesthetic dilemma, but we’ve been morphing of late into after-dinner slobs. Pre and during too, if I’m honest. Bad ways that four flights of stairs will surely cure us of.

  6. Love your blog and inspired by your spunk.
    You keep me thinking postively about possibilities.
    We know what you might do with your books. But what about
    your artworks? In “Merchant House” there are long nails sticking out under the ceiling cornice and a few very staid engraved prints of Colonial Sydney hang by thin wires in long V’s from these in a very ungainly fashion. This is in what they have labelled the “Drawing Room”. This really will not do!

    • For a moment, in my pre-brekky state of befuddlement, I thought you meant finger nails sticking out from under the ceiling cornice. That was a very Cocteau moment. I haven’t even begun thinking about pictures, but I have to admit, heretically, that I’m not averse to whacking nails into walls. Even old and venerable ones. Merchant House doesn’t sound very inspiring. Which one is Merchant House btw?

      • Merchant house is at 41 George Street it is used as an educational facility. So when you see little children running around The Rocks in smocks and mop caps they are part of a school tour starting from Merchant house. I understand why this house is so conservatively restored as it is to show what the house was like when it was built and how it might have been used. It has a wonderful basement with an intact kitchen complete with resident mouse.
        We use the drawing room for our music group. It is a fantastic space to sing our heads off and is a great opportunity for me to peak inside yet another local house.

  7. Note: That should have been “peep” not “peak “.

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