Monday, 14 March 2011

King Henry VIII's computer says "NO"

Luckily for me my best friend Beaker's brother Matt, who works abroad, has been back in the country for the last week. This is great for me because it means I get some variety in the person sitting next to me on my brown signing trips. People who don't have proper 9-5 jobs or children suit my needs brilliantly. Score. Matt's known me for a long time and was therefore totally unphased by my suggestion that we should get in the car and drive in a random direction to discover some brown signed attractions when he called to arrange a catch up.

I was lucky enough to be a book giver on World Book Night and had arranged for my 58 copies of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry to go to a lady who runs book groups in prisons. She is a professor of Creative Writing at Roehampton University and (as it turned out) is an exceptional lady. So Matt and I thought we'd use the opportunity when dropping the books off to get discovering the brown signs around the west London/Surrey area. After a nice long chat in the university coffee shop (feeling a bit old and a lot out of place) with Professor Jenny talking about her book groups and what I was doing with my project we were raring to get brown signing.

We found (as I've noted before on the blog) a frustrating lack of brown signs in Surrey. I was bemoaning this fact when Matt grabbed the camera because he'd seen this sign. Knowing we were unlikely to happen upon racing at Sandown Park (and being wholly inappropriately attired) we hung a right towards the unique brown sign symbol telling us we were heading for Hampton Court Palace. I was a bit dubious about the prospect of a visit here though. The bigger the attraction and the more people there are to talk to about my project when I arrive the harder it is to get in for free or even talk to anyone who really knows and cares about the place, but we thought we'd try, so we drove into the expensive car park anyway and entered the massive hi-tech ticket hall. I began my explanation of what I was doing, said I was singing the praises of brown signed tourist attractions, highlighting the joy of spontaneously turning off the road when you see one and showing how brilliant going brown signing is as a way of discovering Britain. I added that I was doing it out of sheer love and not making any money from my pursuits so could we possibly get in for free/reduced entry.