'Yes, of course. That will be £7.50. That includes a guided tour around his house, Dove Cottage, entrance to the Wordsworth museum and also entrance to the Japanese Calligraphy exhibition we are running at the moment.'
'Japanese Calligraphy exhibition?'
'As part of a Wordsworth tour?'
'Yes. It's running throughout the summer.'
'That's strange. I must have missed all the references to Wordsworth's deep interest in Japan when I read his poems and journals. And, silly me, I forgot that one of the overriding concerns of the Romantic poets was Japanese handwriting in all its forms. Now I think about it, it's obvious. When he wrote 'I wandered lonely as a cloud/that floats on high o'er vale and hill' he must have really wanted to write 'that floats on high o'er Japanese mountains' but found it didn't scan.'
'There's no need to be sarcastic. It's been a very popular exhibition.'
'That wouldn't be to do with the fact that a significant number of the tourists in the Lake District are Japanese, would it, indicated by the fact that many of the signs around here are written in both English and Japanese? You mean, you'd not noticed this? It has nothing to do with it? You're NOT just trying to make money out of Japanese tourists at the expense of authenticity?'
'No, really, we ...'
'Look, let's put it this way. Say you went to Japan, because you were fascinated with one of the country's writers. Say you went on a tour to look at the place where the writer lived and worked. Would you be saying, oh, when we get there, I DO hope there's a fish and chip shop, some Morris dancers, and a cream tea cafe?'
'Of course not.'
'Would YOU be saying, oh, what I REALLY want to see is an exhibition of Constable's paintings of rural England and then follow that up with a stage show in which someone performs songs based on the Eastenders theme tune?'
'I think you're being rather ...'
'Well, if it's alright with you, I'll give the Japanese calligraphy a miss. It might detract from my musings on 18th century English Romantic verse forms just a LITTLE.'
|'When all at once I saw a crowd/a HOST of Japanese tourists heading for the Wordsworth|
exhibition and feeling rather confused ....' Oh damn. That doesn't scan either.