On First Visiting the British Museum Library

Emerging from a pizza's rushed express

Where overcrowded gorging diners downed

Their sparkling water, sprinkled now to bless

A husband's life-long pledge in marriage crowned.

Through Soho lanes that zigzag through the night

With glances at the clubs that tempt a crowd

To ways that seem to some just not quite right;

Refusing, though their choice may be thought proud.

Then bursting into Bloomsbury's new Great Hall

To settle down beneath its lofty dome

And finger volumes that translate and call

The mind to higher things, its truest home.


We follow those who've wandered here before

To read, enjoying all we should explore.


4 January 2001


Written on the day celebrating our wedding anniversary, after a hurried supper at a Soho Pizza Express (where Margaret had spilled her sparkling mineral water on me), and then through streets where we'd held open-air meetings in the 1960s and on to the British Museum to see the recently opened Great Hall and the Paul Hamlyn Library, where there is a list of some of its distinguished card holders.