William Blake

After Christmas and before New Year, London hides away in a lull. The tubes and roads are quiet, shops and services for the busy city in partial hibernation. It is the ideal day for a raid on a less-explored corner. We pile downtown to Old Street and walk to the Geffrye Museum, with plenty of other people who have had the same idea, then walk back down Kingsland Road in search of lunch. After that, but before heading home I suggest a detour to Bunhill Fields, and on the way explain to the boys that it’s named after the pile of bones that lies beneath, a burial ground for Londoners who for centuries would not do what they’re told.

 The big wow here is William and Catherine Blake’s memorial stone, not marking the exact spot of their burial but close enough, next to another, larger marker for Daniel Defoe and across the courtyard from John Bunyan. Plenty of others pass this way in search of the greatest ever English artists, who mastered art and prose. Offerings of twigs and stones sit atop Blake’s stone. We add ours, then walk away talking about Jerusalem and The Tyger – I find I can recite and explain all of the former and some of the latter two.


Later that night George asks me to sing Jerusalem, which I do. ‘That poem is a series of questions to which the answer is no.’ says Harry. I think it is not a bad thing for Blake to still be asking questions 200 years after his death.

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