John Bullock Lighting Design
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Lost in the Library


There are times when it feels as thought the catalogue library has a life of its own. Not an original thought, as anyone familiar with the Discworld novels will be well aware, but when it’s your library that sits there and mocks you – well, that’s a bit too close for comfort.

I have spent days – literally DAYS – looking for a fitting. Not anything particularly out of the ordinary, not even something ludicrously expensive just so you can see the look on the client’s face (that special look you get sometimes when they give the impression that they’re standing on the edge of a very deep chasm and the ground has shifted beneath them – I love it when they do that). No – just a very ordinary, though exquisitely tasteful piece of wall-mou ........  

No, No! What am I saying? If I tell you what I’m looking for the damned phone’ll start ringing, delivery drivers with vans full of catalogues will ring to say they can’t find us (good), and postman will complain to the depot about the last time he slipped a disc delivering unnecessarily large packages to Townhill. And let me be clear here – I still won’t find what I’m looking for, because the Library has decided that its time for some fun.

I know the fitting I’m after is in there – more than one as a matter of fact, because I’ve seen them. But when I open the catalogue to where I last saw the fitting – its gone! The Library has subtly shifted images around, hidden what I’m looking for between the pages of other catalogues – perhaps even moved them into a lighting product version of Narnia where dodgy product design can frolic and live the good life.

I’ve tried to catch it out; pretend to be looking for something else. ‘I really must check that reference number for that fitting I found this morning.’ I say loudly, hoping that the Library, in its loomingness, is having a bit of a daydream. Then, as I move towards the Zumtobel catalogue – where, strangely, nothing ever goes missing - I perform a quasi-martial arts move and grab for the catalogue sitting on the shelf above. As a strategy this is a hopeless one. It never works but, like the Dodger expecting something to fall off my plate – willing the food with a stare that scares me if not the sausages that he’s trying to bend to his doggy will - I keep doing it.

Did I say I’ve been at this for days? I can hear the Library laughing at me – a sinister chuckle coming from over my left shoulder. Can you hear it? Put your ear close to the page. Now: do you hear that?

Look: I’m meeting the client tomorrow morning. I have no time left. I have to leave at about 5.00am to miss all the traffic and there’s a hole the size of a wall-mounted spotlight with decorative glass shade in it (oh, bugger).  There is a theory amongst some of my wackier friends that you only find things by not looking for them. That everything resolves itself in accordance with the natural flow of the universe and my light fitting is just waiting for me on the other side of my fevered scratchings. I only have to give in to it and there it will be.

And that’s why I’m writing this column now. If I just turn the monitor away from the Library so that it can’t see what I’m writing ...... now then. You see, if I stop looking and give myself over to writing a partially-humorous column on the world of the lighting designer, the fitting that I need (just the one – its the last one – its all I need – then I can stop) may manifest itself to me. In which case it had better hurry up because this is the last paragraph and unless something falls off the shelf and smacks me around the head I .... ow!


RIBA CPD in 2015

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