While I was researching my Masters dissertation on Dante Gabriel Rossetti, I was lucky enough to handle his notebooks in the British Library. Tiny little things, like books of stamps, leather-bound, and in my hands. I was delirious. One of the happiest days of my life. All those poem-snippets, the cryptic notes to himself, the fingernail sketches. He felt so close, as if when I went on my break he’d be there in the café to meet me for a cup of tea.
Amongst many sad things and many funny things, this note on one of the 1870s pages caught my eye:
MAY 5 – CLARET
No indication of whether he was referring to wine or just the colour, or why the date was significant. But since then, every year on May the fifth, I’ve bought a cheap bottle of red plonk and enjoyed it in honour of the dear old DGR.
Happy Claret Day!