Looking for the impossibly glamorous: Thom’s Postcard from Royal College Street, London

A previous home of Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, Royal College Street, London

A previous home of Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, Royal College Street, London

Why I went…

I was seventeen and prone to sitting in the canteen at college eating extra strong mints very quickly whilst reading A Season in Hell, in the hope of provoking a ‘derangement of all the senses’. Arthur Rimbaud was eighteen when he and Paul Verlaine briefly lived on Royal College Street, London. Rimbaud was impossibly glamorous to my seventeen year-old self. I expect I hoped that, by standing outside this house, latent psychic tremors would be transmitted through the ether and, imbued with the spirit of Rimbaud’s ghost, my life would become less boring.

What I got out of the experience… 

I got a blurry photograph of my seventeen year-old self standing with hunched shoulders in a plaid shirt from a charity shop, a Smiths t-shirt with Viv Nicholson’s face on the front and a pair of black jeans (I’d already amassed a lot of very similar photos). Given that I found it impossible to imagine a figure as otherworldly as Rimbaud inhabiting this planet, I doubtless struggled to believe that the poet and I had stood on the same street. My attempt to conjure Rimbaud’s ghost failed, but I persisted in writing poetry nonetheless. I still occasionally visit Royal College Street if I’m leaving London from King’s Cross, because it’s just around the corner from the station. On the whole my life now is less boring than when I was seventeen, but I think this is just coincidence.

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