We’ve Always Felt Close to Porton Down

Thursday 21st May 2020

I forgot to say that Harry Rollo decided to depart from reality. His new performance was supposed to take place in early May. The actual day sprang upon him anguish when he’d thought to lie quietly on a chaise-longue and not mind, preparing different performances for only a few or no people.  So to depart reality was a brilliant move. ‘Now,’ he said, ‘my performance will be untouched as a masterpiece. No viewer can bring it down.’

Val rang from Moscova, Hastings and said nobody was phoning because of no conversation except recipes and menus. We then extemporised brilliantly for 20 minutes on the theme of whether you can make bread with self-raising flour. Val said For sure you can. And who now remembers (oh the grandeur of looking back, especially when everyone else has forgotten or is too young) that originally you couldn’t get bread flour, only plain or self-raising. ‘Originally’ would be when we were young, in the 60s and 70s, the original time.

I telephoned to Anthony Mottram in Prague. ‘It’s just a little dull,’ he said. He seemed to have no appetite for viral talk or plans or attacks of any kind. ‘It’s just a little dull,’ he said, several times. ‘I’m used to constant travel.’ He and Vadim are thinking of taking a little cottage in Bohemia, just for a change of scene. I said, ‘We’ve always been so close to Porton Down.’ ‘Have we?’ he said. Porton Down had just approved the Roche anti-body test last week. Such heaven. 100% effective. Anthony Mottram seemed to have quite forgotten how he was always making veiled references to Porton Down when we were at school. Barrowborough was near Porton Down. Anthony Mottram, also living in the neighbourhood although a border,  had an air of special knowledge. ‘Oh Porton Down… very hush hush… couldn’t possibly say…’ and so on. ‘I believe,’ he would say, with an insider air, ‘that they take a particular interest in that microbe at Porton Down.’ This was during a biology lesson.

But when I mentioned Porton Down last week, nothing. No recollection. I wondered if you could go to a cocktail party at Porton Down. ‘It might be a bit lethal,’ said Anthony Mottram in a tired kind of way.


Posted Thursday, May 21, 2020 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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