30 September 2011


"I'm a rover and seldom sober, I'm a rover of high degree"

We have just had the hottest September day ever recorded in Yorkshire - and it was the last day of the month - not the first. So once again I was rambling. This time to the north west of the city in the vicinity of Bradfield which is actually two villages a few hundred yards apart. Down in the valley there's Low Bradfield, nestling beneath Agden Reservoir and up on the hill there's High Bradfield with its picturesque church, its sturdy stone dwellings and "The Old Horns Inn".

I realise that some non-English (alien) visitors have enjoyed seeing my last two batches of local photos so at the risk of boring other visitors senseless, I have another photographic offering for you. Today I was like Heathcliff, tramping the moors, at one with the elements which were incredibly benign, putting Heathcliff's troubled soul at rest... "A half-civilised ferocity lurked yet in the depressed brows and eyes full of black fire, but it was subdued; and his manner was even dignified: quite divested of roughness..."

After three hours of rambling I returned to our coach and ventured in to "The Old Horns" where I purchased a simple luncheon of broiled rabbit, a thick wedge of Wensleydale cheese and a slab of warm farm bread. In the murky candlelight, I recognised the inn's young landlord - yon Edgar Linton from Thrushcross Grange - still as pale and bony as a skellington. What Cathy spied in him only the Almighty knows. For my part, I would have whipped him and left him to weep in the company of yon wretched whelps. But I quaffed my glass of bitter Farmers' Ale and continued on my journey across the naked moors back to Wuthering Heights.

Oaks Farm across Damflask Reservoir:-
View to the cricket pavilion in Low Bradfield:-
Window of an abandoned farm in Coumes Woods:-
View into Bradfield Dale from Cliffe House Farm:-
Returning to High Bradfield:-

29 September 2011


It's daft to stay inside on sunny days like today so I was out again rambling in the lovely countryside that surrounds Sheffield. I tootled over to the suburb of Totley and parked up - not far from the place where Totley Teacher Training College once stood. Now it's an estate of rabbit hutch houses - "little boxes, little boxes and they all look just the same".

Five minutes over the fields and I came to this stile which leads into Gillfield Wood which I have recently worked out is the most southerly point in the Kingdom of Yorkshire. Beyond that narrow woodland, there be dragons - in other words - Derbyshire:-
I walked up Mickley Lane - no footpath so I had to keep close to the verge to avoid being winged by passing vehicles. I was sweating when I reached Mickley. Then onwards to Rod Moor and near Upper Birkitt farm a horse called Mr Ed came over to speak with me:-
Passing Dore and Totley golf club, I noticed groups of men whacking little white balls down fairways:-
Along narrow paths and bridleways emerging into the dormitory village of Dronfield Woodhouse:-
At Birchinlee Farm, I noticed a mobile phone mast beyond a huge pile of barrel-shaped black plastic buoys containing tons of winter fodder. Then there was this tumbledown, deserted farmhouse:-
Two and a half hours after starting my ramble, I passed through Holmesfield Park Wood where sunlight dripped gorgeously through the leaf canopy:-
Past peaceful Woodthorpe Hall Farm where a silver haired grandfather was teaching his grandson how to harrow ploughed fields, then down into the hollow and back through Gillfield Wood to the heartland - Yorkshire.

28 September 2011


How lovely the weather this week - summer's last breath. I planned to go walking on the moors to the west of Sheffield - Houndkirk Moor, Burbage and Rud Hill. And the sky was sky blue and the light was as clear as Venetian crystal. I saw many things. Noisy grouse scooting off from their quiet resting places, toadstools in woods, a woman on a horse, truanting schoolboys on mountain bikes, a weasel poking its head out of a drystone wall. It was wonderful and it felt good to be alive. Here are some images I captured. Firstly, a boggy moorland pool with a view to the Redmires reservoirs:-
Bejewelled cobweb beneath Burbage Rocks:-
Eighteenth century milestone on Houndkirk Road:-
It took me less than ten minutes to get there by car. How lucky we Sheffielders are with the Peak District National Park right there on our doorstep. Why would anybody want to live in London or New York City or Gay Paris? To be out on those sunlit moors, why it makes you feel blessed.

27 September 2011


As regular visitors to this blog will realise, in the culinary sphere, I am Yorkshire's answer to Jamie Oliver . For your delectation, I wish to share a recipe I have recently devised for a delicious fish mornay. If you try it, you will not be disappointed my friends.

  1. Bag of frozen cod or frozen haddock pieces from Lidl or Aldi.
  2. Jug of milk
  3. Large handful of plain flour.
  4. Big knob of butter
  5. Some butter wrapper paper.
  6. Salt and pepper.
  7. Half a lemon.
  8. Some small broccoli florets.
  9. Couple of leaves plucked from a bay tree at midnight by a weeping orphan.
  10. Large handful of grated cheese - preferably strong cheese - if you have some blue cheese in the fridge grate some of that in with your strong Cheddar.
  11. Bread crumbs grated from any loaf you have handy.
  12. Silver foil.
  • Drag large, shallow, ceramic, oven-proof casserole dish from back of kitchen cupboard and brush out the dust and dead spiders.
  • Grease it with the butter paper.
  • Arrange frozen fish in the dish and season with the salt and pepper.
  • Squeeze lemon juice over the fish.
  • Cook broccoli for a few minutes in your microwave and then arrange neatly around the pieces of fish.
  • Make the cheese sauce. Melt butter in pan. Chuck in the flour and stir continuously till bubbling. Pour in the milk and continue to stir till you see the sauce thickening. Then chuck in most of your cheese and stir till integrated.
  • When happy with your sauce pour it all over the fish and small broccoli florets.
  • Greedily spoon up remaining sauce from your pan and eat when nobody else is looking.
  • Sprinkle your breadcrumbs and remaining grated cheese over the saucy surface.
  • Seal the shallow dish with foil and ram the thing in the top of your hot oven to cook for twenty five minutes.
  • Remove the foil and give the surface chance to crisp up for ten minutes.
Get it out of the oven and spoon on to plates with mashed or jacket potato and maybe peas or green beans. Make sure you get more than anybody else. Then gobble it down and sigh, "Mmmm... Who needs Jamie Oliver when you've got Yorkshire Pudding!"

26 September 2011


Now, what shall I blog about today? Perhaps I could post a recipe for perfect Yorkshire puddings or a bare-your-heart kind of poem . Maybe I could clear out the dormant blog links in my side margin and bid farewell to those former cyber chums. What happened to them anyway? Was there a massive blog pile up in cyberspace or did they all simultaneously join aerobic classes?

With the Labour party conference starting in Liverpool, perhaps I could write about the Miliband brothers and how David Miliband would have made a much better leader than his bumbling eggheaded brother who got to the top courtesy of a cruel act of fratricide and a bunch of vague and breakable promises he made to the trade unions. Anyway, Ed will probably find the wheels missing from his limousine when he returns to the multistorey near Albert Dock.

What about former neighbours Doris and Ken? How long have they been in their grave now?

Perhaps I should blog about our lovely daughter Frances who is twenty three years old today! How the years pass. She was born during the Seoul Olympics. Intelligent, determined and reliable, I often think of her as a chip off the old block. But like me she can also be exceedingly silly!

She has a day off work and soon I am going to drive her back to Leeds - the car over-laden again. We are going to stop for lunch at "The British Oak" near the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I think the Labour conference should adopt a new policy that would certainly be a massive vote winner. In addition to statutory holidays every worker should be allowed to have a day off on his/her birthday. Three day weekends would also be a massive vote winner.

Of course I could simply blog about our delightfully unpredictable English weather and how this week is already providing us with the beginnings of an "Indian summer". By Thursday we should all be basking in temperatures of 24/25 degrees celsius or is that only in London and the Home Counties upon which the majority of our meterorological experts seem to focus? One Nation? You must be kidding!

I could hark back to the musical legends of my youth - Leonard Cohen, Donovan, Free, Joni Mitchell, The Nice and of course the lord of them all Mr Robert Zimmerman from Hibbing, Minnesota - Bob Dylan. Once, they meant so much to me but now music is resigned to the cobwebbed attic of my existence.

Oh dear, what shall I blog about as I wait for our little princess to finally leave the bathroom and get her stuff together for the trip back to Leeds? I guess it's just one of those days. I don't know if I am coming or going. I think I'd better just leave it for today.

25 September 2011


Over six thousand photographs were submitted to "Geograph" during the week for which I won the honour of selecting the "photo of the week". Fortunately, one of the project's moderators had whittled the large number of eligible pictures down to manageable shortlist of forty five. There were numerous wonderful photos amongst them including these two superb pictures taken in the English Lake District:-
They came very close to winning but in the end I plumped for an action photograph taken in unpromising light conditions by a fairly new member of the mapping project who had never won before. The fact that he lives in Scotland and that the picture was even snapped in that heathen bagpipe-ridden land were negatives that I overlooked in making my judgement:-
I recognise the difficulty in taking a picture like that and I also notice the headlights with their reflections in the flooded road. The photographer called this picture, "Remnants of Katia" after the hurricane of that name that was recently exported to these sceptred isles by our American cousins. Grey squirrels, "Dairylea" slices, the atomic bomb, "Whoppas", Dan Brown and now hurricanes. What's next I wonder?

24 September 2011


Courtesy of fellow Sheffield blogger - Lois at "Three Legged Cat", I was back at the Yorkshire Sculpture park last evening. I was there to witness a lecture by the Spanish sculptor, Jaume Plensa.

He came on the little stage wearing his hallmark black suit and shirt with his salt and pepper beard grizzled like an old mariner's. He is fifty five years and three months old as he informed the assembled audience at one point. Holding a slide clicker, his talk was linked to various images of his work which can be found in several major American cities, including Chicago:-
And New York City:-
As well as the less cosmopolitan St Helens, near Liverpool where this giant head sits atop a former slagheap:-
There are other works by Plensa in Japan, Switzerland, Sweden and of course his home country - Spain.

He is passionate about his art and keen to create pieces that touch the general populace - not just the highbrow elite. At the end of his lecture, questions were thrown at him by members of the audience. For example:-

HIGHBROW AUDIENCE MEMBER 1 (not me!): You have worked with a range of materials from marble to steel, water and concrete. I wonder Jaume, which material do you prefer working with and are there other materials you hope to work with in the future?
JAUME PLENSA The main material I like to work with is ideas. The materials pick themselves and are simply containers for my ideas.
HIGHBROW AUDIENCE MEMBER 2 (still not me!) What made you choose to become a sculptor rather than a butcher, a baker or a candlestick-maker?
JAUME PLENSA When I was a boy I wanted to be a doctor - maybe a surgeon. I guess that is kind of like a butcher...about understanding what it is to be human.
ME What is your favourite potato crisp flavour?
JAUME PLENSA Definitely salt and vinegar.

Later some members of the audience approached Plensa for autographs but I hurried off to Leeds to pick up our darling daughter who, I discovered, had fallen asleep in her new flat on Thursday evening , leaving a pan of pasta bubbling on the hob for about three hours. Needless to say, there was still an odour of pasta smoke in the air. I think she has learnt a new commandment: "Thou shalt not begin cooking and then lie down after boozy staff nights out!"

Thank you to Lois for the ticket.

22 September 2011


Hours passed.
They seemed like days -
Waiting for you
On that forgotten corner in unforgiving rain
Spotted by the streetlight's glow.

Days passed.
They seemed like years -
Aching for you
As if you'd be my missing jigsaw piece
Making sense of everything.

Years passed.
They seemed like moments -
Reaching for you
Like a trawlerman drowning at sea
Wondering where you were.

21 September 2011


September 21st - the autumn equinox - but the weather forecast was promising so I grabbed my boots and camera and headed for the southeastern fringes of Sheffield. I had a lovely country walk from Ridgeway village over to Mosborough. Rolling countryside with woods and quiet hedgerows where the intricate botanical balances have been achieved over centuries. I saw squirrels, pheasants, grouse, horses and sheep. Farmers were still getting through their "to do" lists for September - fencing, harrowing, sowing winter crops. Where soil was exposed, it was drier than it should be at this time of year and occasionally little dust storms danced over the bare fields.

Over in Hackenthorpe, I spotted this scene, a small house beneath an electricity pylon:-
You can enlarge the photo by clicking on it. To tell you the truth, even if I was given that house for free, I wouldn't live there. There have been several studies over the years about health risks associated with living in close proximity to high energy power supplies and I am frankly amazed that the developers were ever allowed to build a house there.

But look more closely. Can you see that the owners of the little house have had solar panels installed on the roof? I find that rather odd. High above, power surges around the nation -mostly it's made from non-renewable fuels. Down below, somebody believes in a different kind of energy that rises over the eastern horizon every day and is for free. I wonder why someone who thought that way would ever choose to live beneath a pylon. And if you did have to live next to a great hulking pylon like that would you worry about it falling down? Would you give your pylon a pet name... perhaps Peter or maybe Monty. Monty Pylon!

20 September 2011


When you're a teacher, you sometimes wonder what the children in front of you will become. A bestselling novelist? A sport-star of international renown? A national politician? Or perhaps something more humble and unsung - a loving parent, a carpenter, a nursery nurse? I guess somebody once taught our Olympic rowers, our parliamentarians, our film directors but me - well I taught these young men:-

C,D,E & F
The first mixed race lad who I will call A to avoid connection by search engine is currently serving ten years in prison for killing the boy B on his left after a house party on a North Sheffield council estate went wrong. B was pursued by a pack of bloodthirsty yobs who accused him of taking a computer game without consent.

Months later, the gang of four from left to right - C, D, E and F attended a social soiree at the notorious Empire Club - you know the sort of thing - a cultured evening with lively discussion and a couple of bottles of Chilean Merlot. When they exited, they spotted A's older brother A2. Allegedly, since A's imprisonment, A2 had been throwing his weight around on the estate, seeking revenge for his brother's incarceration.

A2 was left unconscious in the street but CCTV footage had recorded the vicious assault. Very soon C,D,E and F were arrested, each of them later sentenced to two years in jail. As F was led away, he yelled at the police that it was their fault. If they had done their job and nailed A2, he would not be going to prison. That was F all over. A horrid, lazy student who never accepted responsibility for his wrong doing. Accidentally, the letter F is most appropriate for him.

When the police visited C's house, they found some drugs and a handgun which increased his sentence considerably. Rumour has it that he was actually the one who stabbed B to death in the first place. To tell you the truth, at school C was a much pleasanter lad than F. And I recall A's first day at my last school. His mother brought him into the "duty room" where I was supervising kids who'd been booted out of their lessons. She said we'd have no trouble with A - he was brighter and better behaved than A2 - but I was already noting his sneering dark eyes and wondering why he'd just been expelled from his first secondary school at the age of twelve.

I wonder if A,C,D,E and F will in the future attend a school reunion - perhaps ten years further on. Swapping photos and stories, delighting in memories of the "best days of their lives". Doubt it somehow.

19 September 2011


After posting the following poem by Roger McGough, a tiny man in my brain whispered - "Sure you've not posted this before?" He kept niggling me when I was at "The Rising Sun" for the Monday night general knowledge quiz and sure enough when I came home I checked this blog's history to find that I had indeed posted the poem before - back in December 2008.

They say that what goes around comes around so does that mean that if you blog for five years or more you just recycle the same old moans and groans, the same memories, the same soapbox expostulations, the same favourite poems and songs? I first read McGough's poem when I was fifteen in an anthology by Liverpool poets that included writings by Adrian Henri and Brian Patten. At the time, their modern urban voices seemed both refreshing and inspirational - very different from other poets I had read - Pope, Shelley and Wordsworth for example.

The idea of dying a "young man's death" seemed appealing. Remember - "age shall not weary them nor the years condemn"? How much sweeter to meet death head on in the full vigour of life than to drift away smelling of wee in a corner of "The Broad Oaks Residential Home" as a TV blasts mindless daytime programmes at a disinterested arthritic audience and a Bulgarian careworker yells "Are you alright love?" in unauthentic English.

Anyway, realising my stupid error, I thought I might delete this post in its entirety. But what the hell? There's no harm in posting McGough's poem again. Is there?
Let me die a youngman's death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I'm 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I'm 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber's chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I'm 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman's death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
'what a nice way to go' death

By Roger McGough (1967)

18 September 2011


As long time visitors to this blog will recall, I am a keen contributor to an online photo-mapping project called "Geograph". Every week the website receives over six thousand new images and from them a shortlist of fifty pictures is drawn up. Next of all, the last "photo of the week" winner has the job of picking the new winner.

The judge for Week 36 was an amateur photographer called Walter Baxter who has taken many wonderful pictures in the Scottish Borders. So for him to pick one of my photos as "photo of the week" made the honour even bigger in my estimation. This is what Walter had to say about my picture of Newark marketplace:-

I liked it from the moment I opened up the thumbnail. The two foreground lamp standards save the day in what would otherwise be an empty space, but there are some folk going about in the background and the soft lighting has shown up the colourful buildings very well. Well done Mr Pudding and enjoy next week.

When Walter says "enjoy next week" he's referring to the fact that I will have to judge next week's shortlist. Anyway, this was my winning photo:-

16 September 2011


Recently, I became aware of a term I'd never heard before - "trolling". Though there seems to be some disagreement as to what actually constitutes trolling, it seems to describe making mischievous comments over the internet - comments that may be designed to antagonise, mock or "wind up" the original author. At its worst and most hurtful, trolling can lead to criminal conviction but it can also operate at lighter levels creating healthy amusement.

The Urban Dictionary site gives several definitions of trolling, including this one:- "Trolling is trying to get a rise out of someone. Forcing them to respond to you, either through wise-crackery, posting incorrect information, asking blatantly stupid questions, or other foolishness. However, trolling statements are never true or are ever meant to be construed as such. Nearly all trolled statements are meant to be funny to some people, so it does have some social/entertainment value."

This is another definition: "The art of reducing helpless nerds to tears over the internet."

Of course, in legend a "troll" is a nasty Scandinavian imp like figure that lives in caves and dark forests and plays unpleasant tricks on people. It was a troll that hid beneath the bridge as the three billygoats gruff clip-clopped over it. When I was a schoolboy, I had a little white rubber troll in my pencil case. He had purple hair and was less than two inches tall. I kept him for years but now he's lost. He looked something like this:-
When visiting other blogs, I suspect that I have sometimes "trolled" when leaving comments after posts. Very probably, Mr John Gray, Mr S. Parrots, Madam Jennyta, Ms Blawat, Mr Plague and Miss Daphne have all from time to time been recipients of my "trolling" remarks. But if it so please your honour, I never meant any harm. I was only doing it for a laugh. Honest.

Perhaps we need a new term. Reserve "trolling" for remarks that are intended to be hurtful, inflammatory or downright nasty and for remarks that are little more than cheeky, non-malicious, light-hearted banter let's call it "rhubarbing" or maybe "plaguing". Any other suggestions?

15 September 2011


Grimesthorpe? Great name don't you think? It's not the kind of place you'd expect to find Old Etonians or posh ladies in mink coats climbing out of Jaguars. Not to be confused with Grimethorpe near Barnsley, Grimesthorpe was once a hamlet ( a thorpe) in the former leafy countryside outside Sheffield. It is situated beneath the "Roman ridge" where two thousand years ago there was a Roman lookout post.

Grimesthorpe conjures up images of smoky industry, the clanking of metal hammers, workers bent double like figures in a painting by Lowry and indeed the neighbourhood owed its lifeblood to the steel industry throughout the nineteenth century. But etymologically, the name has nothing to do with muck or grime, the first syllable is in fact derived from the surname "Grimshaw" - a family that inhabited the place in the middle ages.

Apparently in 1840, a guide to the Sheffield area, described Grimesthorpe as "exceedingly striking, and partakes in some degree of the grotesque". Geography and surrounding industry turned Grimesthorpe into a suburban island populated by steelworkers, coal miners, quarrymen and their families. The community raised the funds for a parish school and an imposing church - St Thomas's - which is now used as a circus school. Arguably the world would be a better place if all churches, mosques and temples followed St Thomas's example.

England boasts many evocative place names from Cockermouth to Shittington and from Broadbottom to Crapstone. But as with Grimesthorpe, such vaguely comical names rarely reflect the true character of the place. This was Grimesthorpe today:-

14 September 2011


The best lunch I ever had was in 2002 at Mrs Wilkes's Boarding House in Savannah, Georgia but yesterday's fayre at our local Baldwins Omega restaurant was not far behind. The basic cost was only £13.50 for a lovely three course meal but adding wine, pre-lunch drinks, coffee and a healthy tip did bump up the price.

I know that most bloggers exist on water, stale bread and mouldy cheese so imagine this:-



Fresh Soup made in our Kitchens with Chive Cream

Marinated Tomato & Onion Salad with
Smoked Mackerel & Sour Cream & Chives

Ripe Melon with Autumn Berries


With Seasoned Yorkshire Pudding & Lamb Jus

With Chips, Garden Peas & Sauce Doria

A Classic dish of Grilled Aubergines, Tomatoes, Shallots - Baked in the Oven and Topped with Parmesan Gratinee


- I chose home-made profiteroles with strawberries and hot chocolate sauce



£2.60 PER CUP


Frances worked at Baldwins as a silver service waitress from the age of fourteen and we have known the bar manager, Jamie since she was a baby. In fact he used to babysit for us when he was a teenager. We

also knew all of yesterday's waiting staff and we were honoured to have the owner - Mr David Baldwin in the luncheon room too but he's looking unwell these days and has lost a good deal of weight.

Our old friends - John and Irene - enjoyed the lunch as much as we did. Afterwards they came back to our house for a cup of tea. It's so nice to have friends you can talk to without uncomfortable pauses or any sense that there may be a current of judgmentalism swirling quietly and insidiously between the lines. And of course our special lunch marked and celebrated Shirley's new status as a Master of Science!

By the way - just in case you were wondering - the seasoned Yorkshire Pudding was of course delightful and much appreciated by all the other diners in the sunny luncheon room!

12 September 2011


We had good news yesterday. Nearly all the time I have been making this blog, Shirley has been beavering away in the background as a part time student with Sheffield Hallam University. Focussing on young adults with diabetes, she had to complete a twelve thousand word dissertation as the final stage of her M.Sc in Advanced Professional Development (Nursing).

You would need several abacuses to work out the amount of time she put into her degree work but yesterday all that time, the self-doubt, the ups and downs, the dead-ends, the meetings, the piles of paper, the nervous drafts and the internet searches seemed worth it. She has passed!

This is an amazing achievement. Shirley first came to Sheffield at the age of sixteen to undertake a pre-nursing foundation course. Nobody in her Lincolnshire farming family had ever achieved significant academic success and in her parental home there were never any books or any connection with the world of academia.

For the first twelve years of our marriage, she was a practically-minded State Enrolled Nurse. Later she went through the required hoops to become a State Registered Nurse still working in Accident and Emergency. Then on her own initiative she was able to transfer into practice nursing and now she has an M.Sc.! What she has done as a full time worker, wife and mother verges on the remarkable and I am so proud of her. Today we are going out for a celebratory special "plat du jour" lunch with two old friends - at the nearby and very pleasant Baldwin's Omega restaurant. An achievement like this really must be marked.


In the USA there at least fifteen townships called Newark, including Newark - New Jersey but the original and authentic Newark is situated in the heart of Nottinghamshire, England. I had never been there till last week when Shirley and I paid the town a call on our way down to Nottingham where our son Ian is now living and working.

Newark-on-Trent is a place steeped in history with a large and imposing market square that speaks of its former prosperity. It is situated on Fosse Way - a significant Roman road that linked the city of Exeter (Isca Dumnoniorum) in Devon with Lincoln (Lindum). Newark's ruined medieval castle overlooks the River Trent from a lofty riverside mound, demonstrating the town's strategic and military importance in past times.

Once the town boasted a very large number of pubs but now it seems to favour charity shops. The tower of medieval St Mary Magdalene church soars above the rooftops and the Buttermarket building still looks proudly across the main square.
After delicious bowls of homemade Italian soup in a small cafe off the marketplace, we went into the Buttermarket and noticed a lift up to the town's art gallery and town museum. We were greeted by Dora - an eighty year old escapee from London who seemed thrilled to have two visitors to show around. The highlight was going behind the scenes for a private viewing of the mayoral chambers with oil paintings of former mayors and precious ceremonial objects dating back to the sixteenth century. We also got to see the newly refurbished ballroom.

The town has many lovely Georgian buildings and as you walk around you can sense its former glory - merchants and bankers, market days, rustling petticoats, doffed caps, carriages and horses hooves on the cobbles - in days when travelling south to London would have meant a mammoth three day coach expedition along rough and often muddy roads.
Though most of the people in the town seemed well-to-do as they went about their daily business, I noticed a group of street drinkers quaffing cheap cider in the church grounds and some other shadowy folk whose poverty and hard luck stories were displayed unmistakably in the clothes they wore, their cheap cigarette smoke halos and the slightly haunted expressions ingrained upon their furtive faces as they pushed hand-me-down pushchairs or rooted through charity shop stock or huddled outside the local Wetherspoons. I reminded myself that it's their England too.

11 September 2011


And as I jump

I recall our weekend at Bowman Lake

- Tommy at the water’s edge

- Carol-Ann begged him not to fall

- Hickory chips smoking...

Flash of flawless burning light

Upon the wings of death

Way beyond Gramercy...

And as I jump,

I relish the rushing air -


Like that summer in the Dakotas.

Dad behind the wheel of our 74 Buick.

Mom turns and says

“Just wind the window down Mikey.”

Headed for Mount Rushmore...

And as I jump

I itemize what is undone

- Places unvisited

- Words unsaid.

Carol-Ann, you know I always loved you.

Please tell Tommy

Daddy didn't want to die

And I really did try to fly.

10 September 2011


Christine Lee Hanson - the youngest victim of 9/11. Aged just two.
Robert Grant Norton - the oldest victim from Lubec, Maine. He was eighty five.

I found this letter from his niece in one of those online memorial sites:-

Posted by Annette on August 7th 2008

Dear Uncle Bob,

I just found this site and wanted to post something.... First of all, I still miss you and always will. You were a very special man and helped so many people in your lifetime ... little children, single moms, elderly people, and most anyone who crossed your path in life. I spent my childhood waiting for your visits to Lubec and absolutely loved spending Xmas with you. You always had a big smile on your face and a twinkle of love in your eyes. You made my childhood extra special and did the same for me as a grown woman and mom. Thank you for everything you did in my life. I know you are in a better place and look forward to seeing you there one day.
Luv you ... xo