With The National Archives being so close to the Thames, that has got me thinking about the Greek philosopher Heraclitus. He noted that you can’t step into the same river twice. By that he meant that you can go down to the same point on the river bank as many times as you like but the river you step into (again) will be different – the molecules of water you stepped into previously are now many miles out to sea. We may do the same things every day but – the everyday routine is subtly different; the every day is not so ‘everyday’ in reality. The sameness of routine can actually be quite unfamiliar.
And so it is every time I arrive at Kew. My three hour door-to-door expedition from the south coast is never the same and never predictable. I shall avoid sharing any tales of my travel adventures and endless delays – they are not for the faint-hearted! The reception I get when I walk through the entrance from Ruskin Avenue is not predictable either. Sometimes I fall under the watchful gaze of the heron, occasionally the family of swans pause to note my presence, but often I just pass unnoticed, or at least I think so.
I never quite know what to expect when I arrive to do my ‘bit’ for the Friends. I always know what is planned or intended: ‘press gang‘ duties, meetings with staff, a Council meeting or very occasionally – a chance to sneak upstairs and get some of my own research done. But beyond that initial intention, anything could happen during the course of the day and often it does. Inevitably there is some routine – a quick head count of the cygnets, signing in, popping into the bookshop to say hello to the team and catch-up on recent membership applications and book review news, collect the latest round of printing or check the post. Continue reading »