BY THE RIVER
David Reynolds explains why a stretch of the Thames holds a special draw for him.
A ‘hole-and-corner’ is an old English term meaning a secret place: somewhere you go to escape the world, to be inspired and to contemplate and create. Where is your ‘hole-and-corner’?
The bank of the Thames between Marlow and Temple Lock.
Can you explain why it is so special to you?
I spent the best years of my childhood in Marlow and frequently hung out on the river with friends and family. This idyll came to an end when I was ten. My father got a job in Somerset and, soon afterwards, my mother left him and went to live in London. I went back when I was about 30 and found a new affinity with the place. I go three or four times a year – usually alone.
Is it important to you to have somewhere to escape from the hustle and bustle of life?
Yes. I live in London. I love London, was born here and lived in Chelsea from the age of ten. But, as well as Marlow, I also make frequent visits to a small village in East Devon. I also have a fondness for the Clun Forest.
What do you like to listen to when you’re working (and why)?
Music without lyrics, which means classical and jazz. Debussy, Ravel, Chopin, Delius, Mozart. Bach’s Goldberg Variations often fill the silence in the morning. Later in the day all kinds of jazz from Ellington to Marcin Wasilewski via Bill Evans. If stuck with a piece of writing, I play Charles Mingus’s ‘Haitian Fight Song’ or ‘II B.S.’
What elements do you think make a perfect ‘hole-and-corner’?
Quiet, natural beauty, slowness, and sometimes an element of nostalgia.
Is it private to you or do you let other people visit?
The right people may visit.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
‘There are conformers and originals. Don’t be a conformer.’ (My dad.)
David Reynolds is an author, co-founder of Bloomsbury Publishing and director of Old Street Publishing