Saturday, 1 August 2009

Thomas Harriot exhibition - Part I

My brother recently pointed out to me that the Thomas Harriot papers - including the first recorded sketch of the moon through a telescope - are on display at Chichester Records Office throughout August. So, with banana, cereal bar, camera and map packed, I hopped in my trusty, 15-year-old Fiesta J(e)NK (named after her number plate) and set off for West Sussex. And what a long day it turned into.

In the time it took me to circle London, Neil, Buzz and Michael would've been outside our atmosphere. Heavy rain, lane closures, solid queues, a toilet break in pitch darkness, and 20 miles in the wrong direction, meant five hours to cover just 120 miles.

I arrived at 3:30pm - the exhibition finishing at 4:30pm. Time to run.

After a dash from my car to the tourist information , I found the records office near a roundabout on the edge of town on Orchard Street. This was after half an hour of clueless wandering around the streets of Chichester, asking in random shops where Orchard Street is. "Never heard of it," said the girl in the shoe shop. Panic. I checked the paperwork I'd printed off in the morning; it was Chichester, wasn't it?

I stumbled into the records office. Drenched. "Hi," I said, as I approached the lady behind the desk. Dripping. "I'm here to see the Thomas Harriot exhibition."

She pointed to the tiny poster on the door to my left. "It's just through there."

Five hours of driving. Torrential rain. Getting lost on the road and on the pavement. No food. But here I stood - at the door to history; to the original papers of Thomas Harriot, over 400 years old. Very exciting.

But my excitement soon faded.

To be continued.


Sam said...

Damn you and you cliffhanger!

Sam said...


Rob Self-Pierson said...

Will be concluded tomorrow...