Tuesday, 14 October 2008

The Madness of the Caravanserai

Photo - West Bay, Dorset

And then there are places and regions farther afield, places on the verge of London, as unknown to the vast majority of Londoners as Harran in Abyssinia. To attain these, the general recipe is to take something that goes out of London by the Seven Sisters Road, something that touches on Finsbury Park, which, I take it, is the extremest mark of the  Londinia cognita Londiniensibus; the caravanserai from which the caravans set out across the wilderness; the merchants telling tales of travellers who journeyed on just such a voyage and travail and were heard and seen no more of men; though some chroniclers, in the fashion of old Mandeville, and therefore not to be trusted overmuch, hardily affirm that these very rapt personages have been noted going to chapel on Sundays in Grinders Green, wearing silk hats and frock coats, or as doing their own marketing on Saturday nights, haggardly, awfully, as men dwelling under the command of a djinneh, on the heights of Tottenham Rye. Such tales they tell of them that scoffed at the predictions of the geomancers, and undertook the journey of the great caravan that sets out from Finsbury Park, a station on the Great Northern Railway – I have not duly noted its new name – from York Road. His Name is the Merciful, the Compassionate, the King of the Day of Judgment; and in the Halls of Eblis there is no backyard gloomier than the backyard in which York Road Station, King’s Cross, is situate. O true believers: be not misguided by those who speak proudly of Euston and Somers Town: for they stray from the truth.
Alas ! I am sane, as the doctors persist, and so I cannot show these visions.

The London Adventure p.134 Arthur Machen

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