Mr.Sponge’s Sporting Tour

Last Saturday, I stumbled onto rather a serendipitous discovery in Chelsea.

Our Saturday morning ritual of breakfasting at the Shepherdess…


Mmmm… the kitchen could put a bit more effort into their presentation skill. Oh well, never mind.

Then, we were off to Michael Hoppen Gallery on Jubilee Place.
The nearest tube station was Sloane Square and we strode down Kings Road, weaving our way through the milling weekend shoppers. Hubbie and I agreed with a tinge of sadness that Kings Road was getting more banal every time we visited the street. The invasion of big brands and chain stores steadily eroded the charm and character and now the stretch was sporting a generic high street which could be found in any well-off parts of the UK.
However, all was not lost (thank god) because John Sandoe (Books) Ltd on Blacklands Terrace was one place which emanated certain old charm of Chelsea’s artistic and intellectual communities…


While Hubbie stuck his nose between piles of coffee table books, my attention was drawn straight to one particular book in the middle of the shelves…


The appearance of the book was inconspicuous to say the least. It had no paper cover and the title “Young Tom Hall” was inscribed in gold on the spine. That was it.
But something intrigued me and before I knew it, the book was in my hand and my fingers were leafing through the content. My eyes were soon glued to the pages because the style of writing rang a bell loudly. It reminded the book I lost more than a decade ago. What was the title of the book? During my nomadic flat-share years, I lost more than a few possessions which had certain sentimental value and the book in question, was one of them. It was a secondhand paperback I picked up at one of the used bookshops on Charing Cross Road. It wasn’t even on the shelf but being piled up on the floor amongst other paperbacks in had-seen-better-days condition. Damn, I wished if I remembered that title…, the thought raced through my mind as my index finger traced old-fashioned typefaces on the crisp white page. Still, I decided to make a note of the name of the author because my sixth sense somehow nagged me to do so.
In the mean time, Hubbie had a better luck. He found a copy of Irving Penn’s book he was looking for for years and it made him one very happy chap…


After John Sandoe, we hurried to our another favourite haunt, Michael Hoppen Gallery on Jubilee Place…


On the ground floor, “Frontcountry” by Lucas Foglia was on…



However, our main aim was to see the Sarah Moon exhibition on the first floor…





Oh how much I loved her work! Her method, hand made pigment transfer print, was breathtakingly beautiful…


During our journey home, I checked the name, R.S.Surtees, in Wikipedia with my iPhone and can you guess what the search threw at me?
Robert Smith Surtees turned out to be the author who penned the book I was chasing!! When I saw the titles of his work, I remembered that it was “Mr.Sponge’s Sporting Tour” …


How could this have happened? Why did I beeline to that book in the first place? The book was definitely calling me. It wanted to be found by me.
After all these years of on/off search, I was reunited (not physically yet, however) with the book under the most serendipitous circumstance. Isn’t life so mysterious and wonderful?…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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