No doubt you’ve been on tenterhooks to know how my Plank day went in London yesterday. Well, it was terrific – apart from the un-forecast rain, which had me sheltering in doorways and scurrying into shops.
My first Plank port of call was Daunt Books in Marylebone High Street; I think I managed to sound “deeply committed to her subject and the research around it” without straying into “dangerously obsessional and a bit potty”, which is always such a fine line to tread. The lovely buyer admired the books, and agreed to take one copy of “Fatal Forgery” to see how it goes. I was thrilled, as she had suggested in emails that they wouldn’t be able to consider taking anything at all until after Christmas, so one Sam is immeasurably better than none. I have now shamelessly Facebooked all of my London friends, urging them to stampede to Marylebone forthwith and create a storm of demand.
En route from Daunt to Oxford Street, to catch a bus to the John Soane’s Museum, I walked past the Wallace Collection, and a flicker of a memory came to me: didn’t they have some lovely French miniatures? Without giving too much away, for “Plank 4” I am considering the mechanics of art crime – forgery, smuggling, theft, etc. – and miniatures are very tempting because they are, well, miniature. This makes them easy to transport and hide, and I wanted to take a look at the genuine article. And the Wallace ones are lovely – “very bling”, as I overheard a teenage visitor comment.
And as for the Sir John Soane’s Museum, let me just say that if you ever get the chance, do go. The chap was obviously quite an eccentric – even in a grand age of English eccentrics – and his house, preserved as it was when he lived there (apart from the CCTV security system, I assume), is really something. In the basement is a very creepy “monk’s parlour” where, according to the guide, he went “to be alone with his innermost thoughts and his imaginary friend, Father John”. Quite. From a Plankish perspective, it was very useful to see what one of the foremost art collectors of the day was chasing – but you’ll have to wait for “Plank 4” to find out.