It was one of those nights. On Thursday evening the rain was coming down stair-rods and it was best to get off the street. My other half was going to the royal premiere of ‘Alice In Wonderland’ (not a night for your best clothes), but I was heading for the Museum of London to hear theatre director/novelist Neil Bartlett talk about the city.
As I walked down my street, I saw someone punching a man and stuffing his body into the boot of a car. It took me a few seconds to click that I had wandered into a night-time film set. The kidnapper was my old friend Sean Pertwee, who always seems to die halfway through any film he’s in. He invited me to stick around and watch the beating, but I was late.
Few people had managed to brave the weather for the museum event, but Mr Bartlett was highly entertaining. He talked about his favourite ‘London’ passages in books, mentioning that the doorstep on which Little Dorrit rests can still be seen, and describing a section from Wilde’s ‘Lord Arthur Saville’s Crime’.
When it was time to leave, myself and a friend became locked in the museum’s stairwell as the curators shut the place up, and I had visions of being stranded there all night. It reminded me also of the story I wrote for ‘Old Devil Moon’ called ‘The Night Museum’, which is possibly the silliest thing I have ever written. After being released some time later by a very embarrassed curator, we needed (and found) a place to drink…
I think certain European cities share this kind of ‘Where the hell is the evening going’ vibe, where events are randomly dictated by outside forces…I feel a story coming on.