Spoke 317 – Gloriously Dead

Hendon, Wed 7 October 2020

I wanted to go for long walks without taking public transport. I didn’t want to walk myself into the ground or bore myself rigid linking up the same green corridors in my dog-eared, much-loved in its day, OS Explorer Map 173, which lost its cover many years ago. In fact, before the visitation, I had managed to convince myself – not without some justification – that I had walked every single footpath near the Northern Line.… More

Share

Paper, Scissors, Gone Again

Grand Union Canal near Berkhamsted, Nash Mills, Sheppeys Lane, Bedmond, field near Shenley
Grand Union Canal near Berkhamsted, Nash Mills, Sheppeys Lane, Bedmond, field near Shenley

This mp3 is a walk I used to do every year at midsummer in the early 2010s. The walk, from Berkhamsted to Kentish Town was 36 miles and used most of the daylight on the longest day of the year. A text version is available on the excellent Wayback Machine at the Internet Archive.

Mon 22 Jun 2020: Introduction. (2 min read, 350 words)

I am proud of it – the writing, not the walk, although I can see its faults.… More

Share

Captain Goffey and the Adventure of the Five Bells

 Thu 18 Jun 2020: Further adventures of Captain Goffey RN. (16 min read; 3222 words)

Heron
‘In former times I would always stop to look at a heron fishing below the weir at Mutton Bridge.’

The nightingale and thrush
Blackbird and wren
Are all praised to death
And then praised again

I’ll hitch my flag
To a grey piece of rag
And salute the mighty heron

[‘The Heron’, from Captain Goffey’s Journal, published in the posthumous collection ‘A Fire-Eater at the North Pole’]

The Diary of Dr Thomas Watson, Surgeon of HMS Jupiter

Today I noticed that Captain Goffey has started writing in one of the account books we discovered last week.… More

Share

A Raft

Fri 29 May 2020: This is an excerpt from the shipwreck diary of my g2 grandfather, Captain Goffey RN, which I inherited some years ago, and have just begun to transcribe, (4 min read)

Brent Reservoir
‘Surely this was none other than Brent Reservoir, where I had learned to sail as a boy …’

It is now two months since the loss of the Jupiter and her crew – God rest their souls. Her Captain and the ship’s mascot, are, I fear, the only survivors.… More

Share

Morning Has Broken

Thu 30 Apr 2020: Eleanor Farjeon’s house, N.W.3., July 2015 (2 min read)

Today I revisit a walk from 2015. It involves a lost garden not unconnected to Edward Thomas and feels sort of zeitgeisty: we all seem to enjoy peeping into celebrities’ homes at the moment. The fact that I could revisit the walk without stretching government exercise guidelines is irrelevant. I don’t want to know what it’s like today. It’s hard to find a house in Hampstead that doesn’t have a blue plaque.… More

Share

These Other Flowers

Thu 9 Apr 2020: Two unbirthday walks for Edward Thomas (7 min read)

So the first time we had got it together to go on the birthday walk organized by the Edward Thomas Fellowship and … it was cancelled: not because of coronavirus but because of the wettest February on record. The ground was waterlogged and there was storm damage in the hangers – the densely wooded hills above the village of Steep, Hampshire, which were home to the poet and his family in the decade before World War I, and the locus of inspiration for much his late-flowering poetry.… More

Share

Ehrendorf’s Second Law

‘In human affairs, things tend inevitably to go wrong. Things are slightly worse at any given moment than at any preceding moment.’ Friday 20 Mar 2020 (4min read)

It seems a bit daft firing up my walking diary at the very point when the possibilities for walking have become so restricted. But it probably isn’t a coincidence. The urge to write often comes from the pain of exile. We’re all exiles now.

Felden
Felden, 12 Feb 2020: Who let the dog out?
More
Share

This Wireless Affair

Two post-mortem writings on a Hertfordshire airman. Monday 9 March 2020 [7min read]

The photo was in a book called ‘Talks with Spirit Friends, Bench, and Bar: being descriptions of the next world and its activities by well-known persons who live there, given through the trance mediumship of the late Miss S. Harris to a retired public servant, and recorded by him.’ I’m not sure if copyright law extends the other side of the veil.… More

Share

Bestiary of Love

Friday 14 Feb 2020 Vinicio Capossela at the Union Chapel, Islington.

‘But in the furrows of the new effort “Bestiary of love”, on the market today, the “werewolf songwriter” who emerges from the most hidden ravines of the Cúpa to dispense mottos and words of truth loosens the bridle to the minnesänger that is in him using the zoological metaphor of the last album “Ballads for men and beasts” to unite like a fourteenth-century troubadour “minne”, love, and “sang”, singing.’

More
Share

Au revoir

Peter Cook ‘I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.’ 31.01.20. Aftermyth of War

I had been here before of course, the day we voted leave on 23.6.16. My aim then was to walk to Berkhamsted along the line of Grim’s Ditch. It would, I thought, provide me with the first chapter of my book. The walk was part of the problem, I now think.… More

Share