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

A Raft

Fri 29 May 2020: This is an excerpt from the shipwreck diary of my g2 grandfather, Captain Goffey RN, which I inherited some years ago, and have just begun to transcribe, (4 min read)

Brent Reservoir
‘Surely this was none other than Brent Reservoir, where I had learned to sail as a boy …’

It is now two months since the loss of the Jupiter and her crew – God rest their souls. Her Captain and the ship’s mascot, are, I fear, the only survivors.… More

Bestiary of Love

Friday 14 Feb 2020 Vinicio Capossela at the Union Chapel, Islington.

‘But in the furrows of the new effort “Bestiary of love”, on the market today, the “werewolf songwriter” who emerges from the most hidden ravines of the Cúpa to dispense mottos and words of truth loosens the bridle to the minnesänger that is in him using the zoological metaphor of the last album “Ballads for men and beasts” to unite like a fourteenth-century troubadour “minne”, love, and “sang”, singing.’

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Camden’s Rubbish

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

Dollis Day

22 Feb. Finchley–Woodside Park. With a storm promised for Thursday (Doris Day) I felt I was sneaking a walk in early. Which is odd because I almost always walk on Wednesdays anyway.

dollis-snowdrops

Note to self: I’m at a critical point in this country diary. I don’t want to write it. I’ve nothing to say. On the other hand, one of the key things about it, like dried prunes, is regularity. If you want to look back and track the changes you want to know what happened in February, week 8, even if what happened was you were particularly uninspired and irritable.… More

Pageant of Winter

15 Feb.  Crocuses were pushing through in Alexandra Park when we walked through on Monday in the sunshine, snowdrops, too. It was still cold though. Today the wind had shifted round to the south south west. Now it is official. The pageant of winter has been authorized for removal and destruction. Few will mourn its passing.

But I was in a funny mood. In spite of a rainbow and a troop of parakeets the day was more inclined to gloom than glam.… More

B for Brent

8 Feb. Eleven minutes to Hendon. Five minutes walk to Brent Cross past a barber-surgeon giving free hair cuts to street trees. The sign at the pedestrian gate at the end of Brent Park Road worried me: “ACCESS FOR SHOPPING AND BUSINESS PURPOSES ONLY NO PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY.” All in hectoring capital letters and no full stops anywhere. What if they stopped me?

brent-cross

It reminded me of another walk and another sign: “Constables and other Peace Officers to apprehend all Common Beggars Ballad Singers and other Vagrants for that they may be dealt with according to the Law.”… More

Up the Junction

01 Feb. On 1st February 1760 in East Hoathly, Sussex, Thomas Turner, a shopkeeper, “supped on some roast chicken, a cold ham, a hot boiled green tongue, a boiled leg of mutton, fried chaps, tarts, cold fine baked puddings etc. … ”

willesden-junction

I had to look at The Country Diaries, 2009, ed. Alan Taylor, to get inspiration to write up yesterday’s walk home along the Grand Union Canal from Willesden Junction.

I have been thinking how little expertise I bring to the country diary.… More

Route 66-Lakeside-Tilbury-Chadwell

25 Jan. Ensignbus, omnibus suppliers to the world since 1972, provided this week’s iconic road trip. Shorter than last week’s – I got off about half-way – but man did we make up for it in time. Ninety million years between shop and trolley on the ice of a former chalk quarry in Grays. Grays Gorge

I wasn’t as frisky mind you. Too angry to look at the news. Instead my eye glanced down to a story about a new GM apple.… More