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Tuesday, 4 February 2003

Richard Cooper's 2003 Hoban Adventure 8/28


Doria Road


New Kings Road

(The Bat Tattoo)

Doria Road was implicitly the home of Sarah Varley from The Bat Tattoo: on page 59 she walks from it into New Kings Road, commenting on the shop window displays and the feel of the early morning. The accuracy of the description in the book again made me wonder if Russ had been inspired to locate her there by a visit to the area, or whether he knew by heart what the locale looked like and had decided from his desk that this was where Sarah should live. It was a chicken-and-egg conundrum: which came first, the road or the character? Again, irrelevant (because “any part of it contains the whole of it”) but interesting to wonder where stories and characters first declare themselves in a writer’s imagination.

But, I digress. Doria Road is a very smart road indeed, wall-to-wall with white-painted semi-detached and terraced Victorian houses. Clearly Sarah Varley had done quite well for herself over the years, or had at least bought her home several years ago before house prices went from the sublime to the ridiculous. You couldn’t look at the houses in that road and its location just past the delightful green and not wish to live there.

It was impossible, however, for me to find a suitable spot in that quiet residential street to leave a sheet of yellow paper. I was actually beginning to wonder if I hadn’t been over-reaching myself with the yellow paper idea for the trip; it would have been just as good simply to visit these places and take a few pictures. As I walked back towards the Tube however I noticed the pair of telephone boxes which Sarah Varley. I put this quote on the shelf in one box, and the previous one about the shop windows in New Kings Road, in the other.

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