Archive for September, 2009


September 26, 2009


Cycling through Ruddington, Nottinghamshire I reflect unemployment can’t be easy for those new people blighted by it. To begin with, the sixteen years since the last slump is a lifetime for a boy just leaving school, daunting at first.

The Slump, sees no colour, no class, no age, no religion, has no prejudices. Imune the young brush aside worry because they are care-free. For the Baby Boomers though the psychological impact is profound akin to falling off a cliff, either clinging on to a slippery branch two thirds down or on a sandbank waiting for the next tide to wash you off and no chance of rescue.

In this new country of idleness, like moving and settling in a strange town, it takes for a while to read the terrain, to learn to survive.

Things procured with little or no money acquire deep value, companions or weapons through a paler landscape hunting for offers, bargains, even dead means shoes.

The shallow attachments of bespoke coffee shop lounges and your own copy of The Times slowly are purged from your body and leave you.

Mind and body tap into the wild life underneath and away from the grimly facile surface world: Like a hunter I ghost through the unwrecked real town.

Volunteer. Volunteering is a free pass to real people, where you may voyeuristically peer in on parallel lives, like entering a upper floor room from a side window, and a foot in the door for interaction (entrenched isolation is the most dangerous aspect of unemployment). Beware of this as it lies at the edge of madness. Always find a talking head to have a dialogue with who isn’t you. Time drags. Try to end the day feeling you are tired from labouring. Conspire with yourself to feel there is not enough time.

‘Oft have I heard of the The Disadvantages of Unemployment, but never the Advantages of Unemployment, ner till now!’

Never stop looking for work, its your civic duty, but if the weather is nice just cycle to your favourite place. Take your time and don’t worry: they can’t hurt you out here in the fields.

Its just that this was the nicest year (weather-wise) since 1960. Tsk, Tsk.


Thrumpton, Nottinghamshire

September 26, 2009

On Hunger Hill it is no surprise to be told of Nottingham’s hidden past of poverty. The hosiery slump caused famine in the 1830’s, The Salvation Army founded in Sneinton off below this terraced allotment across the valley of St. Anne’s Well Road kept quiet, and now Nottingham, within the confines of the overgrown town, has the lowest per capita income of any English city. Hunger Hill is a No Man’s Land in the lee of smug Mapperley, a linear leafy suburb strung along a fairly steep ridge to Top Valley. This is Nottingham.

Here though in the 50ft south facing glasshouse I might be in Provence among well ordered rows of sunflowers, leeks, raspberries, salad, onions, beans, cabbages, beetroot and carrots.

In the frightfully modern polytunnels grow cash crops of every salad and herb.

It’s wrong to think of England as a scrawny fragmented scrubland of random hawthorns bent to the bracing wind where exotic species flounder. In this Intensive Urban Organic Market Garden foods are perfected, harvested and ready to eat. Free of chemicals and drenched by sweet pure rainwater they don’t even have to be washed.

Caribbean men and woman grow Thyme and Hot Chilli Peppers over on yonder hill, but there are English Natives growing these under controlled conditions in pollytunnels.

I see a dragonfly, a yellowhammer, and a woodpecker, and many anthropomorphic wasps annoyed perhaps at their own imminent demise. (You may understand this only if you have a valid up-to date poetic licence). For a moment I feel safe, invincible even, but the gardens are slowly, gracefully dying.

The summer of 2009 is the best since1950 raining first in early summer on these orchards of plums, apples and blackberries. A hot ‘bleezing’ summer followed by an Indian one.

As usual the best fruit and vegetables were ending up in middle class baskets but The Slump saw a shift to serving the Deserving Poor with subsidised food.

Whilst the private allotment system is haemorrhaged by selfish instincts, despite The Slump, Collective Urban Market Gardening marches on but farming needs time and labour. It’s odd and disappointing frankly, that youth has not been mobilised to create a New Dig For Victory.

I am thorough and valuable and am rewarded with bags of organic food. Gardening is hard work and takes time, and is a distraction: Perfect for The Unemployed. Cycle back and forth to the gardens paying no bus fares on the way.

Charing Cross

September 20, 2009

Charing Cross

Lance lived underneath the arches somewhere left of Charing Cross station almost certainly in a void below The Savoy off The Strand. A Geordie burglar Lances’s demise and funeral was patronised by prominent members of The Spiritualty, Parliament and The Business World. He carried a bag of pepper in his brown worsted overcoat to throw into the eyes of pursuing coppers. Lance occasionally walked over to Westbourne Grove to meet Barrow Boys from South Shields (a community from which he sprung), living in a squat.

Lance’s route marked out an axis between Charing X and The Church Commissioner’s Estate on Notting Hill, which still has a monastry on Portabello Road. As The Church Commissioner’s Estate had developed these fields as squares like Powys Square, (in a ring roughly beyond Euston Road to the Grand Union Canal), they were all curiously run down in the 1970’s as England languished in a pre-oil boom slumber.

Dave Brock and others from Hawkwind may have been a few doors up in houses now demolished on Westbourne Grove, Paddington.

About 1974 The Cycling Fraternity was then witnessing the appearance of Mountain Bikes.

Just up over the canal bridge Ari Up and John Organ were working in That Tea Room. The Blond Girl in The Slits worked their too. John spent summer in Mid Wales in a Tippi and sold IT magazine on the street corner, a hippy magazine he edited.

Just above Westbourne Grove Bus Garage graffitti by Piers Corbyn on corrugated iron sheeting read ‘If the Luftwaffe did’nt get you, the GLC will’. Further up on Elgin Avenue a similar signn read ‘Hume Sweet Hume’ both refering to the Squatting off Harrow Road and Ladbroke Grove.

Charing Cross Road in the 1970s was decorated with an elegant curved Georgian or Victorian terrace just up from the National Portrait Gallery but now demolished.

On the night Heaven was created underneath the arches on a Thursday, Barry Noble, Richard Branson and A N Other from Brighton stumbled on the name when Barry asked what in heaven should they call it.

Heaven was, as was The Embassy Club served by Les Daly in Red Satin Shorts and his Scotsman friend The Manager who also managed The Embassy Club.

Straight Nite Thursdays at Heaven was once or twice graced by a performance by New Order.

Barry Noble, dressed like a Gateshead Gypsy in a pony trap had just bought The Pavilion Pier, Brighton for £50 million. His black Rolls Royce parked out The Gay Hussar (ibid) he was nearly thrown out for being inappropriately dressed.

The Strand refers to a beach which was in view and lapped by the raw river before The Embankment was built.

N.B. You could only get into The Blitz if Steve Strange, the doorman, liked how you dressed.


September 20, 2009

‘We’re not computers we’re physical’.

Roy Batty says this to J F Sebastian in Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Filmed in 1982 starring Harrison Ford, Rutger Hauer and Sian Young.

JF Sebastian, a strandee, not of the economic variety, but a genetic scientist stuck on earth in a gothic skyscraper and stuck in his body, is forbidden to emigrate off-world because he has Methuselah Syndrome. Otherwise he is quite happy.

‘Oft have I heard of the Drawbacks of Unemployment but Advantages of Unemployment, ‘N’er till now’.

First if you are not a cyclist already, procure one. Best is a quality cycle which you owned. Prevent this being stolen. If in Portsmouth tie it to a ships anchor.

Find someone who repairs bicycles for a small fee and buy the parts he will fit. Find cheap spares. Oil your bicycle sparingly with olive oil (which you use for cooking) from a pripet. Be one the outlook for cheap spares.

Shop at ASIA, the store formerly known as ASDA , formerly known as Associated Dairies now owned by Wall Mart an Isreali World Shop with a USA HQ and good connections to India.

ASIA working as usual in retail on margins of 2% mark-up are the Inventors of Distribution and wipe the floor with Morrison’s, Tesco and Sainsbury’s.

In ASIA look around for bargains. Carry shopping home on your bicycle in two waterproof Ortlieb pannier sacks. ASIA can be 1/3rd cheaper than lesser supermarkets.

ASIA sell inner tubes for less than half the price of their competitors. Remember Small Independent Cycle Shops make profit not on Imported Taiwan Bicycles but on accessories with Built in Obsolescence and Low Mean Time Between Failure.

Try and get everything for free, like food, and air (for your tyres).

Do volunteer work which gives you access to food like gardening and helping the elderly who will swap care for sharing revolting Meals on Wheels.

Existentially you will subliminally have more ‘time’.

Use your time to read. Focus on learning which will help you through to the afterlife. This ‘afterlife’ may be A Future Working. Borrow books don’t buy them. Read books which will help you adapt to and sustain your temporary or permanent lifestyle. An example of a book to read might be ‘SAS Survival Handbook: How to Survive in the Wild, in Any Climate, on Land or at Sea – John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman’.

If you can watch films watch films which will help you deal with the life you are now in like Ghost Dog, (based on the diary of Yamamoto Tsunetomo a 17th centaury Samurai).

The English Economy is Not Human but a Robot. The advanced complicated robot is Controlled from Afar by Lateral Appendages. Experts are studying how to animate and motivate the robot.

Entrepreneurs, Survivalists and The Cash Rich back from A World Cruise are busy formulating a plan for a telescope to view Spacemen Garden Colonies growing on Mars.


September 17, 2009

Everyman, and The Road Drill Man drilling a hole in the street, despite the vibrations making thought rather impossible, may be stuck in Melancholia (Not a place in England, but a Country of the Mind) just as much as the over-rated poets whose genius is as The Voice of a Higher Being voiced through Earthly Beings.

Melancholia is that land out to sea being towed off into the mist, as you gaze from the white windswept cliffs of Velvet Beds next to the Mustard Paths.

These poets often dying young because they Know Too Much.

Pity those comfortable Ladies who can grow old and Make Do perhaps. The only salvation for poets and over sensitive souls whose mood takes a dive as the temperature drops is Deliverance*.

Cycle from Marsden to South Shields and gaze over to Tynemouth.

By October ‘These People’ will have left Melancholia being distracted by keeping warm.

* De`liv´er`ance
1. The act of delivering or freeing from restraint, captivity, peril.

2. Act of bringing forth children.

Here is the full text of Sculptor (1958) by Sylvia Plath
Sculptor (1958)

“To his house the bodiless
Come to barter endlessly
Vision, wisdom, for bodies
Palpable as his, and weighty.
Hands moving move priestlier
Than priest’s hands, invoke no vain
Images of light and air
But sure stations in bronze, wood, stone.
Obdurate, in dense-grained wood,
A bald angel blocks and shapes
The flimsy light; arms folded
Watches his cumbrous world eclipse
Inane worlds of wind and cloud.
Bronze dead dominate the floor,
Resistive, ruddy-bodied,
Dwarfing us. Our bodies flicker
Toward extinction in those eyes
Which, without him, were beggared
Of place, time, and their bodies.
Emulous spirits make discord,
Try entry, enter nightmares
Until his chisel bequeaths
Them life livelier than ours,
A solider repose than death’s.”


September 17, 2009

‘Of dreamscapes and obscure lunar conundrums
Which seemed, when dreamed, to mean so profoundly much’

The Ghost’s Leavetaking : Sylvia Plath : (1958)

It would be odd to base a cycle tour of England on shopping centres or those large futuristic silver boxes in the landscape, distribution centres. The logic of distribution is based on, the huge task once started, the English Motorway Network.
Like The Great Wall of China the lettering on these Distribution Hubs is visible from space as in IKEA Team Valley and Junction 29 on the M1 before Ilkeston.

ASDA’s HQ is Leeds, also an Israeli Stützpunkt with a Prominent Cube among the Dereliction of Wakefield, South Yorkshire. Further, the logic Centralization in The Middle of the Country or Convenience Stores near The Port of Southampton.

If distribution though is the main mantra for shopping why not Edeka invite car drivers on to a container ship sailed into the Port of Tyne Authority at Willington Quay?©®™

People often refer to Blue Water or White City as having conquered that place by visiting it as tourists but they really are invading tribes.©®™

Such a tour although obscure and frankly slightly mad would lead the cycle tourist into Ordinary Everyday English Life.

Lika a Twilight Zone the gap between August and September is easy to get stuck in.


September 17, 2009

One of the best cycle rides in England is from Bradmore a village clinging on the edge Gotham Moor. From Edwalton suburb cycle out to Ruddington towards Plumtree.
At the back of Bradmore church is an invitation to cross Gotham Moor to Gotham Pastures and Clifton.

Like Ridley Scott’s Hovis Ad the track decends on to farmland along a grassed over disused waggonway crossing the Great Central Railway over an abandoned bridge to Gotham. Seeing a soul out there is reminiscent of Vincent Van Gogh’s early Dark Works of Agricultural Workers before he worked “an official servant of God” in Nuenen, in The Borinage coal mining district of Belgium of men manually sewing seeds before mechanization, or obscure 17th century dutch landscape painting.

Particularly I noticed the Dying of the Light as three trees aligned themselves for photography. There is no reason to disassemble the landscape so features, like a large rectangular pond, remain intact. Like the the use of materials (in architectural ironmongery) like bunker concrete and rusting metal the observer wonders how he will outlive these materials.

Striding across the landscape, (sometimes the ground underfoot is too rough and you must dismount) you know you have to get back to your shelter like in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Top Valley, Mapperley, Nottingham

September 16, 2009

‘How she longed for winter then!–
Scrupulously austere in its order
Of white and black
Ice and rock, each sentiment within border,
And heart’s frosty discipline
Exact as a snowflake.’

Sylvia Plath, 1956

Working in the glasshouse, on a terraced, cultivated allotment below Albert Road as Sorrow and Joy glide in. This Magpie Pair, one a repetition of the other: Black and White like they are cold winter birds. I felt this year was a repetition, a repetition of years past.

Repetion in poets is a sign of a Death Wish they say. How ‘they’ know is a mystery.
How quickly hot living turns to pale dying, though. What a shock the End of Summer is.

Summer changed to Autumn here on Hunger Hill. Storm clouds divided the whole sky once horizontally then vertically with a burning intense sun in between. I noticed on Hunger Hill the cloud banks temporarily hang over the town bellow and dash it with rain.

The Death of Joy was so quick. Unable to participate I looked on passive and watched the season change. Despite watching enjoying being in summer, a feeling of being in the red hot present, despite knowing the approaching colours were pale, I stayed still and witnessed the change from Summer to Autumn happen on a single day.

Art conceals art and underneath is the nitty gritty. Skin conceals and contains sometimes unpleasant reality. Passive Enjoyment of The Changing of the Season may leave you vulnerable to the full meaning of Autumn but it is better to feel than not to.

Life is transitory and ephemeral. If sensitised, souls feel this as they leave August and enter September.

Over there in Trent Bridge there is a family of fifteen Magpies. They apparently decorate their nests with jewels.

No Mayflies here but a Dragonfly repeatedly checks intrusion in to its territory.

Winds are now from the north. Time for a change.


September 13, 2009

‘As gruesome as Mansfield’s death was, at least it was quick. Mansfield probably never felt what happened to her, and because of the dark she likely had an instant of “We’re going to crash!” shock to cope with before the impact.’

Jane Mansfield dies by night, next a Luisianna swamp 29th June, 1967

In 1816 Nottingham slipped into a deep depression in the hosiery industry fortunately offset by a rise of lace. Nottingham was so overcrowded ( the degredation and helpless misery of the poor stockingers wandering gaunt and hunger-stricken through the streets) workers moved beyond the town boundaries thus accounting for the wierd geography and strange hautiness of the the outer suburbs of Nottingham. Making the move the nostalgic workers glued to their heritage called their towns New This and New That like New Baseford, New Radford, New Lenton and New Sneignton linked by minor rivers and streams to wash and dye the cloth. The mind boggles also at how arsenic and chromium in the drinking water of these streams has led to the mentality of the local corner enders who rap in a series of incomprehensible cliches heavily influenced by The West Indies, Innit?

On reflection a picture reveals itself as The City of Nottingham slowly appearing as rotten , rotting, ashamed of it’s past and hiding and blocking off it’s history.

Mansfield is an isolated town further out in northern Nottinghamshire accessible from Nottingham by rail. One of the hosiery towns the houses were however smaller. Mansfield persons are articulate and ‘In Your Face’, a happy few away from Nottingham.

Cycle to the town centre a double twin Arndale thoroughfare set on an incline, but don’t be there on a Saturday night meant to be lawless.

The Lincolnshire Wolds

September 13, 2009

Lincoln Wolds

Soham is a small market town, if Ely is a satellite of Cambridge then Soham is a satellite of Ely and beyond is a vast (almost) flat plain of Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire.

Nearby is the Littleport far inland and Barway, a dead end where once there was a bridge over to the other side (of the River Cam).

That summer Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells wandered into Soham Village College, Cambridgeshire a sunny Sunday, August 4, 2002 to visit Maxine Carr a classroom assistant.

As this story was revealed to the nation the world changed from hot August Summer to Autumn of September.

For the Baby Boom Generation and the Rest of the Nation the loss of the two girls, the Wealth of the Nation, effectively dressed in national costume (Manchester United replica shirts) like the two Princes in the Tower, ‘The most replenished sweet work of nature’, (Act IV Richard III), was a tragedy where the nation symbolically suffered the worst loss of all: The Death of Children.

Out of vision from the Fens and woodland of East Anglia, The Lincoln Wolds rise to the River Humber continuing towards Northumbria as The Yorkshire Wolds.

From Lincoln cycle north to Market Rasen. Here in this truly innocuous country town is where Ian Huntley, The Soham Murderer, in a solicitor’s office first met Maxine Carr.

Cycle north east then north where the rise of the Lincoln Wolds is rather sudden where the feeling is one of one being elevated into a heavenly place floating somehow and remote from The Carnal Earth.

Like Skybase in Captain Scarlet.