Thursday, September 07, 2006
Life at the Courtold Institute
posted by Jonathan Calder |
I'd recently dropped out of the Courtold Institute. I was enjoying it too much; contemplating Cézanne slides, dozing through discriminations of Cubism, soothed by the weird precision of Anthony Blunt delivering, on gin and tranquillisers, his annual Poussin sermon. I was too dumb to realise that all I needed to form a picture of the city, its machinations, corrupt establishments, smoothly oiled liaisons between disparate social groups, was here, under the dome. From Blunt's eyrie to the marble hall with its checkerboard floor, grand staircase and fine art, this palazzo of privilege, training ground for Sotheby's shysters and culture brokers, had the lot.
Typical, I thought. I have the ant heap at my mercy, top to bottom (plenty of that), Queen Mum's transvestite routs, Blunt's rough-trade pick-ups (diversifying dockers), future ivory-finish novelists, the passport to the secrets of London - and I flounce out, nose in air. Graham Greene, Guy Burgess, Ronnie Kray, Lord Boothby, Anita Brookner, Brian Sewell: I missed them all. The men from MI5 and MI6, shuffling in through the tradesman's entrance, pipes and macs, for their free tutorials. The Saturday night parties when the students were safely removed to South Ken, Fulham and Battersea.
Iain Sinclair Dining on Stones (2004)