K-Town Circular-101110

This week I have mostly been reading: From Russia With Love. I was not sure that I had read any Bond  so it was fascinating to go back to the original text for the world’s most famous spy bar none. Literary antecedents, Bulldog Drummond and John Buchan’s Richard Hannay,obviously, but also Graham Greene’s Third Man (which gets a name check) and Stamboul Train and Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express. The train on which 007 fights for his life (and that of the free world) in an alpine tunnel is as much a literary salon as  a heritage transport experience.… More

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K-Town Circular-101103

My copy of Lights Out For The Territory is now so well pawed that it’s shedding leaves like autumn trees. Which is perhaps why, walking up Dartmouth Park Hill past the Whittington, with the great dome of St Joe’s looming, I suddenly thought I was walking up a collapsed pillar of gold. It had been standing in Tufnell Park but a hurricane had blown it down, the slope of the northern heights had cradled its fall, and now it provided a royal carpet for truants and loafers, dowsers and dreamers – and people with more sensible reasons for ascending to the lip of the basin in the milky autumn light and looking back to the pillars of mammon in the city’s sclerotic heart.
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Benfleet-Southend-101027

Blistering Barnacles. I nearly got away with it. A clean escape from the fog of guilt and grief and doubt that is the writer’s daily bread, this one at any rate. I could breathe at last, before me the estuary spread out at my feet  – a clear corridor through twin banks of cloud over Kent and Essex. Above cirrus rippling like a stone dropped into a pond. My unchained mind following the ripples out across the salt marsh and creek and tiny craft and slow gliding ships and power station chimneys.… More

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Blackheath-Greenwich-101020

Tall Stories

“Sweet Chestnut is used for the basic treatment of desperation, mental anguish, extreme depression, acute hopelessness, extreme spiritual suffering, and mental or physical breakdown …”

… at least according to that other kind of chestnut (hoary,old) and esoteric money spinner, the Bach Flower Therapy, but that wasn’t the reason I set out for Greenwich Park in yesterday’s autumn sunshine. Although I had come to join in a harvest of sorts.

I was not the only pilgrim in the park.… More

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NW 3-Peaks-101010

My Dear Friedrich,
So much for the Mother Shiptons who thought that it was all going to kick off today. In fact it was the most beautiful Autumn weather I can remember and the Northern Heights were heaving especially on the Heath where we had so many fantastic picnics back in the day. Oh, the chicken and roast veal and the leisurely Sunday papers and the setting the world to rights while the the children played hide and seek among the heather.
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Bushey Circular-101006

Transcript

Dear  Harry & Elinor,
crossed the border today & visited the Rose Garden. Do you remember the cloisters? It’s fantastic – and the locals are still friendly (providing you dress down & don’t stare at them). In the afternoon I did a circuit via Aldenham etc. Took photos rather than sketched. Plus ça change. Long hedgerow of hawthorne caught low Autumn sun and the haws lit up like landing lights. Then I realized they were landing lights.… More

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Finchley-Kentish Town-100928

Ford ‘Mad Dogs‘ Brown used to walk out to the mighty Dollis to paint – and walk back to Kentish Town. To be fair I took the tube one way. I was in a gloomy apathetic mood which seemed to be shared by the people in my carriage who were mostly asleep. It may have been the unnecessary heating of course and their dreams may have been as sunny as the glossy magazines I later photographed where they had been carefully ripped and placed like votive offerings in the river echoing the colours of the  Himalayan balsam and Virginia creeper on the bank.
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Enfield Lock-Clapton-100921


Another temperature traverse of the Lea Valley. I’m reading Iain Sinclair’s Lights Out For The Territory, W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn, and Richard Holmes’s Footsteps. But reading them with the mindset of a carpenter looking at trees: Terry Pratchett’s advice to aspiring fantasy authors (or author-fantasists) in 2010’s Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.
All I can see at the moment though is hornbeam, tears and broken jigsaws.
But I loved the hop hedges on the  bank and remembered how the Enfield malt men, who plied their trade by road,  set fire to the locks at Waltham when transport on the improved river threatened their business in 1581.
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London Bridge-Stoke Newington-100915

Leagrave

Woodsmoke and  limes. A strange thing to note down considering the lower Lea valley has changed beyond recognition since I last walked this way in the first weeks of the New Thatcher experiment. Now the ODC has turned the river, like an olympic gymnast, on its head. The grave is at the bottom. Apartments and studio flats spread out along the tow path from Limehouse like colonising triffids. Each property boasts 2.4 Moorhens, 10 cubic centimetres of  abbatoir greased polyethylene and a view over a cordon sanitaire into a pre-abandoned  future.… More

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