Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 16th August, 2009
Today I went out to Reigate for the day, to have lunch with my fellow biographer Michael Bloch at Mount Pleasant, a retreat for people involved in the creative industries (disconcertingly described as an ‘artists’ rest home’ in most directories of charitable organisations) which enables writers, potters, architects and the like to stay at an extremely modest price in a rather beautiful, substantial house in Surrey’s stockbroker belt, with wonderful views of the Surrey hills from its gardens and dining room. I have been there for Sunday lunch on several occasions over the past decade or so, though never to stay. To write, I need to be in my upstairs study at home in Bow, the curtains drawn and the cat snuggled up by my feet. But Michael has for years been one of the institution’s most assiduous repeat visitors and I can see the attractions of the mini-country house lifestyle, where the everyday concerns of preparing food, making beds and so on evaporate, while one can just write, think, read or walk in the surrounding countryside. Mount Pleasant was generously endowed, but it has inevitably been hit by the economic crisis of the past year. One just hopes that it can continue to offer the tranquility and inspiration it has done for so many for so long.