I realised when I posted ‘Trouble in Mind’ on my blog that the version published in ASON, the Graham Greene newsletter, had gone out without a couple of corrections. These related to the ‘sunken’ cottages at the bottom of Castle Street. They weren’t, as Greene thought, alms houses. I had removed references to them as such in the final draft.
Not the biggest of big deals, but difficult for an auty.
Last weekend at the excellent Graham Greene International Festival, I suddenly heard my dad saying ‘That’s not the same man you wrote about’.… More
On Sunday I met up with Ben Mackay, who is writing a book following in the footsteps (and cycle tracks) of Edward Thomas’s In Pursuit of Spring, and Saeko Yoshikawa, who has translated, and published, Thomas’s poems in Japan.
We walked a circuit around Box Hill and Mickleham in the hottest August Bank Holiday on record: not typical Edward Thomas weather, but there was plenty of shade in the chalk woodlands, in Mickleham church and in The Running Horses, which Thomas mentions in the text.… More
26 July 2019: My book has become a ball & chain. I can’t even look at it. I’m accepting defeat, for now. Thing is: I have problems organising a sentence. I sometimes forget to write in paragraphs. A book? What was I thinking of?
For the moment I am happy being a consumer of words. 25,000 words
of evidence from Smith vs Brownlow, for starters. This court case
(1866-70), and the events leading up to it, are one of the foundation
stories of both the Open Spaces Society (then called The Commons
Preservation Society) and the National Trust.… More
A hatchet faced photo of a dozen Berkhamsted School Prefects in the Summer of 1922 shows my grandfather, Dennis Goffey, on the far right, standing. Charles Greene, headmaster & father of Graham, is in the centre, and Claude Cockburn, the writer, and friend of Graham, seated (appropriately, he was once denounced as the ‘eighty-fourth most dangerous Red in the world’ by Senator McCarthy) on the far left.
The photo may or may not explain my interest in Berkhamsted’s most famous literary figure – I mean after Ed Reardon.… More
I had a quick look at Wikipedia to see how old Facebook was. I wanted to boast that I’d had a web presence before them and would have one after. And well, it’s a close call, but I probably still can. We both went live on February 4th 2004. Given that the UK is several hours ahead, I think I win by a nose.
We don’t have much else in common. Facebook reckons to have 2 billion active users – or it did before the Cambridge Analytica debacle.… More
The rifle range on Berkhamsted Common: A journey with maps.
For a couple of years now I have helped my father, Brian Shepherd, lead a walk for the Graham Greene Festival. The walk tracks the Berkhamsted author over the common of his childhood and teases out references from Greene’s autobiographical writing and his fiction especially his later novel, The Human Factor (1978), which is partly set in Berkhamsted.… More
Yesterday (3 /5/17), thinking it was Tuesday, I ran away to Enfield Lock and walked with the forest rarely out of eye shot, to Epping town. I had that pleasurable buzz of playing hooky all morning – until I realized it was in fact Wednesday and I should have been walking anyway. But it was a good wheeze whilst it lasted. Free from the constraint of thinking I had to generate words for my shepherd & dog, I found little vignettes of nature’s delights dropping on my head like plum-coloured bird lime.… More
I’m not going back to the forest without a paper map and an old fashioned compass. I’d put a route on my phone to the Thomases’ isolated house in the heart of Epping Forest – the poet’s last address in England before he was killed in France a hundred years ago. I had intended to just reverse it when I finished and retrace my steps to the station. I found the place alright.… More
Thriller in Manila: Did the outcome of one of the most famous battles in American naval history turn on an envelope hidden in the folds of a naturalist’s freshly laundered shirt?
William Doherty has been much on my mind. I’ve been revisiting my Tring Museum research to try and fit Charles Hartert’s story finally into my book, a baggy tome about my great uncle’s war held together by chalk and wishful thinking as much as anything else.… More