Trip to Hampstead Today!

’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

Cold Case 1 – Ally Pally

Alexandra Palace
Alexandra Palace

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

Spoke 25 – County Lines

‘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

Spoke 149 – Stranded!

South Bank

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

Spoke Zero.1 – Muswell Hill Mystery Solved

East Grim Echo, Tuesday, 14th April 1896.

Albert Wattle (32) and Henry Daub (31) were arrested at Bath on Monday morning for the murder of Manmountain Ortiste, a retired wrestler, at Muswell Hill.

Returned to London, they were extracted from Paddington via the milk platform abutting the London Road to avoid the crowds gathered at the station demanding to lynch them for the gruesome murder of the elderly wrestler who, though six foot tall and seventeen stone, was arthritic and partially deaf.… More

Spoke Zero – Coldfall

Highgate Wood

I threw zero, which would have taken me a little to the east of Tesco Colney Hatch. With only a little bit of artistic declination, my route took me through a park and three areas of ancient woodland. The furthest point I reached was Coldfall Wood, named by the first hunter-gatherers when the ice sheet, like most people, observed Muswell Hill and turned back.

Now, of course, I realise that my dice are loaded.… More

Spoke 136 – Building of the Month

l to r: 186 Fleet St., Holborn Library from Jockey’s Fields, Dolphin Tavern, Red Lion St., Camley St rail bridge: 10 Foot, 4.1 Metres

It comes back to this: you have to write for yourself. At least, I do. I write to check I still have a pulse. I write to make connections – any connections, if I’m honest – because I find it hard to make narrative connections that most people take for granted. The bits of your brain that fire up with thoughts of your children or grandchildren or dogs mean absolutely zip to me.… More

Spoke 67 – Freightliners Blues

Old Coroners Court, Islington

I walked around St Mary Magdalen Gardens on the Holloway Road today, past the sociable huddles of street drinkers. I wasn’t exactly in the mood for collecting headstones – or ordering one, but in the south-east corner of the park, I noticed the Old Coroners Court. In one way, the juxtaposition was entirely understandable. The church could provide solace for the grieving, could frame their search for answers – or at least answer a different question if they didn’t like any of the answers available.… More

Spoke 207 – Last Number Redial

I got chatting to an old boy on a bench next to the Serpentine. He had been in the Navy: submarines, mostly. By way of conversation, I said I’d just been reading that a quarter of the army could be robots in ten years time. He told me that the regular army had been robots since 1906. He said that when contractors went into Knightsbridge Barracks a few years ago, they were amazed to find that none of the services had ever been used.… More

Spoke 219 – Speke

Tuesday 03 November 2020 (2 min read)

I enjoyed the colours of the leaves along the Regents Canal. And the colours of the African Hunting Dogs which remind me of cave art. No two of them have the same markings, apparently. My photos were blurry sadly, but they were pacing around. They knew something was up: which is more than I did. They mostly eat ‘antelope and wildebeest but often warthogs, zebra and even lizards’. I’m sure they wouldn’t turn down an ambassador if he happened, somehow, to fall into the enclosure:)

I took a slightly better pic of canal-workers (fried breakfasts, doorstep sandwiches, roasts, pies, beers).… More