Ah, but I do love the Soane Museum!
They are doing works in Sir John’s drawing office, and they find a hollow space at the base of a column, containing three small objects that, judging by their combination, and the way they are arranged, look like a time capsule…
A pipe, a handful of wood shavings, and a railway ticket.
Well, yes – technically speaking, the fellow could have emptied a pocket for some reason, put the content in the nearest available spot, been called away – and, when he came back, someone had walled up his belongings… But it’s a rather far-fetched story. Think, rather, of someone deciding to leave his mark – in that place, on that day, for some reason of his own, or just on a whim – and immuring the content of his pocket for someone else to find, in some remote future… Eyes not yet created, tongues to be.
It takes imagination, and a touch of whimsy – and, once found and opened, it brings with itself so many question and potential stories…!
So the museum people do some research to date the capsule, and come up with documented works on the columns in the 1890s, and a much later date for the ticket, in the late 1920s – when there are no documented works… A mystery within a mystery – and no obvious way to know. One of those things we do not know anymore? Or, at least, that we do not know yet. And all the more delightful because the master of the house, Sir John Soane, had a liking for secret caches and time capsules himself. Then of course, he also had a rather peculiar mind, and an even more peculiar sense of humour…
You can read about the whole thing here – and please observe the lovely thing they decided to do: to hide another time capsule in the Drawing Room, for someone in the future to find. A very fine game of Pass the Parcel, Alan Bennet would call it.
And now the Soane soars even higher in my ideal list of favourite museums, and I want to make up stories about the man of the pipe, and can’t help wondering: if I were to hide a time capsule of my own, what would I put in it? Right now, I suppose it would have to be a scanned page from the Douai Diaries, a parking ticket from the square before the Tiny Theatre and a handful of dried linden blossoms from my garden.
How about you, o Readers? What would you put in your time capsule, right now?