Well, I've pretty much done with the clearing out. No takers for some items, not even for ready money, so they've gone back into less folders and less drawers, where I imagine they will moulder until Wendy and Paul inherit them, and then maybe some more ... There seem to be, sadly, these days, no or few institutions interested in preserving the history of the heyday of the live theatre ...
I wonder where, for example, these thirty-four 1850s and 1860s London theatre-bills will find a home. In a decorator's stock, perhaps.
Maybe I should just say, bother the history, and take them out of their protective packaging and pin them on my walls as decoration.
I am prompted to that animadversion by the fact that, having disposed of most of my 'stuff', I am giving my office a make-over. Well, I spend 80% of my waking hours here, so ... Previously, the house pictorial arrangements have been fairly aligned. Derain, van Dongen, Sainthill in the dining room;
Procktor, Hiero and .. well, I know it's rotten to mix paintings and photos, but my favourite photo of Ian, in the living room.
Bedroom: aboriginal art, Conrad Martens, Russell Drysdale, a great Norman Rubington, two of Nana's Austrian paintings and, above the bed, my newest purchase, a beautiful Carol Moffat.
Dressing room: a whole wall of paintings, from G Sutherland to Nicky Counsell. Even the loos are decorated. But with C19th theatre posters and bills. And my office?
Until this month, its walls were the home for my favourite horsey pix. Seppl, Elena, Fritzy, Cliffy, Davey Crockett ... well, amongst them, they won me over fifty races. But those horsey days are gone, alas, thanks to the jiggery-pokery in New Zealand harness racing. So, I thought, it was time for a change in decor. The skiting on my 'skite-wall' needed to be about yours truly (and brother), rather than his pets ...
Being rather physically inept at the moment, I called for aid from an artistic pal of half-a-century who can still climb ladders
Damme, Bryan Aitken, fifty years ago *I* was slimmer than you .... and you can still climb a ladder and wield a hammer ...
A bottle of bubbly and some delicious Wendy-canapés got us through the exercise. No, it's not finished... think of all those books coming up next year! But, looking up at my wall-in-progress, I can see how the world, notably the publishing world, has changed. The lavish publicity printing of Macmillan, Basil Blackwell, and, especially, the wonderful Bodley Head is no more. Publishers shove your book on the Internet, put hunking excerpts on the ghastly google.books, and think that's enough.
Ah well, I lived the end of the good days ... and I'm still here ... still writing ... still publishing ... but I see that most of the printing on my under-construction 'skite wall' is from the twentieth century rather than the twenty-first. Oh, well, end of a wonderful era?
Chuckle. Anyone want to know what is on those shelves? Well, you can see my books, of course. Also Richard Norton's indispensable American Musical Theatre. The Kutsch & Riemann which is sadly outdated. A complete set of the British Who's Who in the Theatre/Green Book ... and off to the right, some of my friends' books, plus little favourites ... but who needs Collins Dictionary nowadays? Who needs Brewer or even Larousse? Do I really need Kobbé? Or three Hungarian dictionaries? I think Rotary is in for another haul next year, from the new-look Gänzlorium ...
Watch this space!