This month was a small landmark for the blog: it passed a thousand views. I didn’t keep records before last summer, so I’m very pleased and would like to thank everybody who has looked in. I’m not going to analyse the figures too carefully. I suspect a third of them arrived by accident and never returned. Another third were bots trained to look for phrases like ‘bomb recipe’ and ‘best kitchen knife to do a murder’.… More
‘It should never rain at a public place, as it prevents intercourse and drives everyone to his own bad lodging to breed spleen and ennui.’
Byng’s Tours, The Journals of The Hon. John Byng 1781-1792.
I threw a ten: ‘J’. I don’t have that many files beginning with J. A couple of people connected to Tring Museum a hundred years ago. Another on Jung, with nothing in it, presumably because it’s all in my subconscious.… More
“No matter how strange or interesting the story, chances are pretty good that at least some raven somewhere actually did that.”
Mark Pavelka, quoted in Mind of the Raven, Heinrich Bernd, 2006
I was on traffic patrol with my wife. Our beat was a couple of thousand feet over Watling Street, between Oswestry and Shrewsbury. It never got really busy in those days. Harvest time would be about as busy as it got. Farmers liked to get their corn to market quickly, or at any rate before the weather changed.… More
‘3rd [February 1837] The old Lady is getting much better. I hope she will stand a little longer yet. There is a great deal of illness about now – every day the streets are regularly crowded with funerals and mourning coaches, herses and such like belonging to the dead. The undertakers in London are very particular in haveing all black horses to attend funerals but now there are so many wanted they are glad to get any colour.
‘May God take care of my child after I am in my watery grave. Oh, God help me. Dear Emma, The money that is in the Building Society you must apply for, but mind, dear, I never did what Smith accused me of, and that is what made me take this step. God bless you, dear Emma, and dear baby boy. I remain, with kindest love, your ever true and loving husband, Walter Broomway, Foulness Island, near Rochford.… More
’25th [January] Been to Hamstead with the carriage. It’s about six or seven miles out of London. It’s where a great many Cockneys goes to gipseying and to ride on the jackasses. It’s a very plesent place. Had for dinner today a rost leg of mutton, potatos and suety pudding: supper, cold meat and rosted potatos and rabbit.’
From Diary of William Taylor, Footman, 1837, edited by Dorothy Wise, with notes by Ann Cox-Johnson, St Marylebone Society Publications Group, 1962.… More
Of all the places I habitually walk, the Thames Estuary has the biggest claim on my affections. I don’t think I’ve ever had a disappointing walk there. Elation doesn’t always last. But that’s not the fault of the place. Just the fact that whatever chased you out of the house will still be there when you get back.
For years I only did one route, first discovered in the pages of Timeout. I would get the train to Benfleet, about fifty minutes journey from Fenchurch Street, and walk along the creek to Leigh-on-Sea.… More
For someone who mostly writes about walking, it is a challenge to write about a walk around the block. James Joyce could do it. Then again, people have walked on the moon: doesn’t mean I can.
I’m not saying you’re interested in my mental health. But if you were, I’ve now, tentatively – because you can’t really diagnose yourself – diagnosed myself with ADHD (I mean on top of the clinical diagnosis of autism I received in 2019).… More
‘A man should look to his drains before he furnishes his drawing-room.’ Proverb, London, c1870, quoted in Sanitary Engineering, Baldwin Latham, 1873.
I bagged another ghost station today – if abandoned overground railway stations count. A bona fide ghost station needs, like an iceberg, a hinterland that you can’t see. I fumbled with my phone just long enough for the platform to empty of the dead, who were chatting about being professional in meetings, among other things.… More
A pleasant ramble today, through a ghost town. I avoided main roads except, briefly, the Euston Road, where HS2 protesters had set up camp in the small park in front of Euston Station.
By coincidence, the spoke took me past The Savoy (on The Strand, near Charing X) which didn’t look very barracksy, although was guarded by a gold caped crusader. I enjoyed taking the time to mooch en route, around Old St Pancras Churchyard, for example, and then later, the little lanes to the south of Denmark Street.… More