Death of an Airman in Berkhamsted, 23 September 1942
Schoolboy David Russell of Castle Hill Avenue was in his garden when he saw, through his telescope, the fighter plane ‘either a Tomahawk or a Mustang’ approaching. It seemed slow for a fighter and fairly high up. It did two rolls as it crossed over the town where it lost speed and turned on its back. He saw smoke coming from the plane. It righted itself but was at an odd angle with its nose at 45 degrees.… More
Trench Art, High Barnet – Sandwell School, Finchley
Invisible to drivers hurtling by on the A1, Water End retains the peace, if not the quiet, of a village. It has a small industrial area which until recently supported a workers’ cafe. There are some pretty cottages and, when I started walking here, two pubs whose names echoed a rural economy not quite disappeared a hundred years ago: The Woodman Inn and The Old Maypole. The latter built in c1520 and now a private house was boarded up and for sale in April 2010.… 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
‘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.
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
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
20 Jan. The day the 45th and possibly final nail was hammered into the coffin of American democracy seemed like a good day to kick start a road trip along some of my homeland’s most iconic routes. This one, operated by EOS, and the first of many, I hoped, turned out to be a circular from Waltham Cross, the south-easternmost town in Hertfordshire.
The route, echoing the thirteenth century funeral procession that gave the town its name, crosses the River Lea and the Greenwich meridian into Essex where it speeds through Epping Forest, slowing to a crawl at the Wake Arms roundabout, before looping through Loughton and Debden, and returning to do the whole thing again.… More
“Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit.”
11 Jan. I should have checked the weight of the book – The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin – before I set off. It was like carrying a small child on my shoulders through the Hertfordshire/Greater London borderlands. And I was already tired. I had the usual winter blues but harder, more gnarly, or so it seemed having forgotten the hard gnarly blues of last year or the year before that or …
This is an easy time of year to be a writer.… More