IT could all get rather silly on Primrose Hill. The Royal Parks Agency scrubs off the ten year-old Blur lyrics on the path leading to the summit and then somebody puts them back. Scrub. Paint. Scrub. Paint.
The reply came back to press requests last week from the Agency that the top of the hill needs its William Blake quote rather than Blur’s words: ‘And The View’s So Nice’. Here’s the official explanation as to what was wanted following landscaping at the summit: “The Blur lyric was considered but was beaten by a line from William Blake: ‘I have conversed with the spiritual sun. I saw him on Primrose Hill’. I hope that people who visit the Hill appreciate this in the way that some people appear to have appreciated the Blur lyric.”
Oh aye? Firstly, there is clearly room for the Blake inscription at the top and the Blur lyric to remain painted on the pathway. It’s not quite clear why it’s an either/or.
And then what about this Blake quote? All good historians would tell you to be wary of taking anything second hand. Blake is not recorded as writing the quote down, it is from the memory of lawyer and diarist Henry Crabb Robinson, who admits that Blake seemed to him to be “idle and rambling” while talking to him over dinner about his “visions”. Before the time of dictaphones, I hope Robinson had the conversation down in shorthand and met the journalistic standard for accurate quoting. Otherwise, it’s a second hand quote over a Blur lyric which had been there for a decade.