This week marks the 300th birthday of the famous journalist, writer, and mutterer of notable sayings, not to mention, lexicographer, Dr Samuel Johnson – or at least it would were he still alive, which in which case he would be less famous for his dictionary than for being the oldest man alive.
Anyhow, as it is a notable week, the trustees who look after his house in the City of London decided to offer a little Afternoon Tea, which was quite apt as dear Samuel was rather partial to the stuff. Indeed, he famously went to a house of an admirer to take tea one afternoon and in exchange was usually expected to “perform” for the guests. He hated being put on show like this, although he needed the free food, and claimed that in that afternoon he drank two score and five cups of tea but uttered fewer words.
Yesterday, guests were invited to Dr Johnsons House to return the favour although none of us were able to match the Dr’s own feat of fluidic intake.
After being welcomed with a glass of sparkling wine and a wander round the house, we settled down for tea on the 1st floor, where good sandwiches were followed by scones with cream and jam and then a selection of cakes. All this while a violinist played in the corner.
It was a classic English afternoon tea, served in a preserved Georgian house and without the overbearingly posh fuss that comes from taking Tea at a grand hotel. Quite relaxing, and I hope they repeat the event as it is quite a good fund raiser for the museum and a very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.
The house itself is quite an interesting place to visit – and pay close attention to the wooden “walls” on the first floor as you will notice they hang on hinges and what is a single large room can be swiftly converted into two smaller rooms with a large landing.
Normally an admission fee applies to go in, but this Friday – the actual birthday of the old chap – the house will be open free of charge to visitors from 11am to 5:30pm.
Dr Johnson’s famous London quote: “Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” has been rudely commandeered by a fellow London blogger – Tired of London, Tired of Life – One thing a day to do in London.
Boswell and Johnson were discussing whether or not Boswell’s affection for London would wear thin should he choose to live there, as opposed to the zest he felt on his occasional visits. This discussion happened on September 20, 1777, and Johnson, someone who hated to spend time alone, was always going out and enjoying what London had to offer.
If you are a Twitter user, then Dr Johnson comments on modern life from beyond the grave @DrSamuelJohnson
Photos taken by a friend.