Leslie’s House
November 6, 2013 10:05 AM   Subscribe

I felt like we were intruding on Mr C. As if we’d interrupt him at work on a new manuscript. The housekeeper spoke not a word of English, but led us into his office... and then left. Michelle and I were there, alone. This was no museum. This was no shrine. This was Arthur C. Fucking Clarke’s office. His office with everything.
posted by Artw (18 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
My god, it's full of tchotchkes!
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:19 AM on November 6, 2013 [8 favorites]

Apart from a mild squicky feeling at seeing the results of someone bribing their way into a dead guys house, is this for real?

Is some organization (or someone?) knowingly or unknowingly paying money to keep the service to the house going? It didn't seem as if anyone had moved in yet the service staff hadn't moved on. I guess if the money to clean (preserve?) it is coming in...
posted by Slackermagee at 10:23 AM on November 6, 2013

It IS mildly squicky, but my god had I the opportunity I would totally have taken that opportunity too. Leaving nothing and taking nothing, of course.
posted by Artw at 10:33 AM on November 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

The guy's dead for five years and the house is just gathering dust? Some kind of Jarndyce v Jarndyce kind of thing going on?

(Sadly, Patrick Leigh Fermor's houses in Greece, intended as a sort of literary retreat for literary people, is apparently going to wrack and ruin.)
posted by IndigoJones at 10:42 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

He has a younger brother and a Sri Lankan family (news reports talk about Tamara Ekanayake attending his funeral) so presumably either of them inherited the place and haven't found anything to do with it.
posted by Artw at 10:42 AM on November 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I ♥ my Kaypro, too. I should see if it still boots.

Agreed on both the mild squick and complete awesomeness. Clarke's writings were a formative part of my youth, and continue to be so to this day.
posted by jferg at 10:43 AM on November 6, 2013

Wow. Cool post. And interesting blog in general. I have bookmarked it.
posted by ChuckRamone at 10:45 AM on November 6, 2013

And what tchorchkies!

From a previous visitor

The office and study at first appear unremarkable -- lots of souvenirs and books, an enlarged New York Times front page reporting "First Man on Moon,'' and scores of photos amid the teak shelves. But closer up, the magnitude of what Clarke has done -- the stage on which he's played -- comes into focus.

There's an actual moon rock given him by NASA; a long-ago Christmas card from Apple Computer founder Steve Wozniak when both he and his Macintosh were no big deal; a photo of Clarke with the Pope, who, Gunawardene explained, had invited the author to the Vatican some years ago for a discussion of the future of man in the space age. There's the T-shirt signed by astronaut Buzz Aldrin and, in the opening page of a published lecture by Neil Armstrong, these handwritten words: "To Arthur -- Who visualized the nuances of lunar flying before I experienced them.''

posted by Devonian at 10:46 AM on November 6, 2013 [7 favorites]

Blogger is a better man than I. That VHS of Dune would have left with me. Hopefully this place doesn't get looted.
posted by GrapeApiary at 10:46 AM on November 6, 2013

Yeah, I would have taken something. Nothing of historical or potential emotional significance. A paperclip. A pencil. Something I could frame at home and when people ask why I have a framed paperclip on the wall I would tell them about Arthur C. Clarke's house.
posted by Shepherd at 10:55 AM on November 6, 2013

Interesting to see Mieville's Iron Council on the bookshelves: published in 2004, when Clarke was 87. Maybe the publishers sent him a complimentary copy, but I like to think of him reading it.
posted by verstegan at 10:57 AM on November 6, 2013

Apparently, one of the last things he watched was a VHS tape of The Ali G. Show.

I imagine him, upon reaching the end of the final episode, sinking back in his easy chair and closing his eyes for the last time, while softly murmuring to himself "My work here is done."

And overhead, without any fuss, the stars were going out.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:59 AM on November 6, 2013 [16 favorites]

Ray Bradbury's vacation house in Palm Springs is still available for rent. It's been totally renovated, but you might still get the occasional piece of junk mail.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:00 AM on November 6, 2013

Ray Bradbury's vacation house in Palm Springs is still available for rent. It's been totally renovated, but you might still get the occasional piece of junk mail.

Does it come with a nursery?
posted by entropicamericana at 11:12 AM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

I had heard rumors of AC preferring the company of young gentlemen but I had no idea that his home was named after this Leslie Ekanayake, or that he's buried next to him. I am so glad they're back together.
posted by Ber at 11:33 AM on November 6, 2013

One of my close pals grew up in (and lived for some time as an adult in) John Brunner's old home on Hampstead Heath. It really is on the Heath too, virtually at the end of a cul-de-sac that leads directly onto one of the footpaths up to Parliament Hill, one of those fantasy London locations that only exist in films.

A huge old pile, it was more some sort of semi-commune in the 60s, or so I am led to believe, and there are apparently lots of folklorish tales of the goings-on there when JB was in residence. It certainly feels appropriately dark and gothic inside; all steep staircases, gloomy wallpaper and caramelised paintings. Although I don't know whether my pal's parents redecorated when he moved in (must ask him) he tells me he inherited Brunner's desk.

John Hall, who was also part of that scene, wrote a book based on his experiences in that house, called Life On The Hill, but I don't think it's ever seen the light of day.

It wouldn't have done me any good mentally or physically, but I would so love to have been part of that whole New Wave scene back then. The people... the stories... the stories about the people...

I have done some of the things in that house that ought to be done in a house like that, but it's not the same.
posted by Devonian at 12:07 PM on November 6, 2013 [3 favorites]

Ha, Devonian, my friend lives on either that cul de sac or one right adjacent to it, I was just up there last weekend.

And Ber, in my previous work in doc tv I had good reason to know a lot of second-hand info about AC, and I was told he did prefer young gentlemen, emphasis on YOUNG.
posted by C.A.S. at 12:52 PM on November 6, 2013

Based on the dinosaurs on the bookcase, it's pretty clear Clarke had the same interior decorator as me.
posted by brundlefly at 3:31 PM on November 6, 2013

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