My university ‘adventure’ had ended; and now I had to find a job.
I had acquired a shelf of books, but had no shelf to put them on. I was homeless.
I’d read as much philosophy as I could. Extracts from the great philosophers, and all about Kant, Wittgenstein and Heidegger from Bertrand Russell’s The History of Western Philosophy.
A friend, who worked at the Natural History Museum in Kensington, put me up in his home in Putney. He suggested that I walk over to the V&A and ask if they had any job vacancies.
There was a menial Civil Service job available in the basement office. I was accepted. In a year’s time I was promoted to Museum Assistant in the National Art Library. I had taken the first steps on a career ladder.
A colleague offered me accommodation in his poky ,flat in Harley Street Mews. The BBC ‘head honcho’, Lord Grade, parked his chauffeur- driven car beneath us.
I had time to read and write a little. I went to poetry readings and met George MacBeth, (‘Mr Poetry’ at the BBC), and Mike and Frances Horowitz.
I had a risque poem called ‘Consummation’published in a magazine called Poetmeat. It published other young ‘new’ poets: Penelope Shuttle, Lee Harwood and Dave Cunliffe. I also had poems accepted by Scrip, Breakthru, and Preface.
Like Birmingham University, the V&A had been partly designed by Aston and Webb in 1909. The two buildings were so similar.
London was ‘swinging’; and I was at the heart of it, buying my clothes at Biba every week and wearing the shortest skirts possible.
And I bought a book of poems, which I really loved: North from Sicily. Poems in Italy 1961-64 by Alan Ross Published by Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1965.
I really loved these fresh, direct, very modern poems. And had no idea then that in 2001, Alan would publish some poems of mine in the last two editions of London Magazine shortly before his death; and that all those years in to the future, I would attend his memorial service on Tuesday, 30th October 2001 at St Paul’s church, Covent Garden.