So I’m back from heckling at trauma lectures and drinking white russians with Russians in Norwich.
While I was on the bus back from Norfolk I was thinking about a Twentieth Century Britain reading list, although it’s hard as I can’t decide which book to choose for which author. To The Lighthouse or Mrs Dalloway? Who knows. But I’ve included The Magus by John Fowles, one of my favourite books, and it made me think about when I met the author.
It was in the Philpot Museum in Lyme Regis. John Fowles, who lived in the area, was very much involved with it. It must have been in either 2000 or 2001. I had just read The Magus with great excitement, thinking ‘I didn’t know you were allowed to write like this!’ I recognised him in the museum, verified by comparing the photo on the back of the copy of Daniel Martin with the real thing, and approached.
He was with a younger relation, a nephew I think, who said protectively that Fowles was recovering from a stroke. Fowles asked me a couple of questions to which I stammered replies which somehow led him to think I was a geology student. He very kindly offered me work experience at the Philpot, and said something like ‘well done… carry on’ which I have forever taken as a kind of blessing.
The whole encounter lasted less than a minute, probably, but it was completely fantastic.