Archive for January, 2009

Garden of Lights

I often have an early start, either for work /or some journey, so walking through empty and darkened spaces is a familiar pleasure. The walk to Ormskirk station through Coronation Park, often looks a bit like this

– Ormskirk’s low-angled roofscape beneath a dawn sky.

It is possible to get through Ormskirk and on to the 5.50 without encountering a living soul. Doors slide open and everything is lit up, as if for my sole benefit (like a science fiction story where the last man alive lives in a sterile, automated world with every need attended to.)

When I arrive at the Edge Hill University campus on foot, I walk through gardens originally laid out in the 1930s with rockeries and several kinds of trees. These grounds now have low-set lights which help navigation through the pre-dawn darkness (though probably confuse the wildlife.)

Shrubs growing from the tops of buildings usually denote neglect and decay. However the Business School building is brand new and the branches visible from below belong to plants in a roof garden.


At 6.30am this was a peaceful place, birdsong audible from trees at the same high level, light spreading behind the clouds.

From morning lights

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Two months after completing the last section, I got back to The Lakes Station, south of Birmingham, ready to continue. In my pack: some oat bars, the new camera, selected poems of Thomas Traherne, and two china mugs purchased in a desperate hurry in the centre of Birmingham.

I was on the Midland Link, an extension of the North Worcestershire Path which I had been walking since Birmingham. I was now in Warwickshire, ‘the very heart of very England’ according to Arthur Mee. It was a clear day with a watery sun, puddles coated with thin skins of ice. I walked through a few fields, clambered stiles and bridges.

From The Lakes to Turner’s Green

Interlude: ‘How like an Angel’: Thomas Traherne
I don’t usually read during these trips but, perhaps because of the lengthening journey I had brought a book along. Shakespeare would have made sense, this being ‘his’ county, but like a lot of people I only have a bulky Complete Works. Instead I grabbed Thomas Traherne: Selected Writings – works by a 17th-century poet and religious writer. I got this a while ago having read quotes from him in a crime novel in the female-priest-and-exorcist-in-Herefordshire-solving-apparently-supernatural-crimes subgenre, The Wine of Angels by Phil Rickman (first in the Merrily Watkins series, highly recommended.) On the hour, alerted by my watch, I stopped and read a few lines of Traherne’s ecstatic, everyday mysticism: ‘A living temple of all ages I/within me see/A temple of Eternity!/All kingdoms I descry/In me.‘ The conclusion of his meditation ‘The Third Century’ is an exhilarating manifesto: ‘…God being, as we generally believe, infinite in goodness, it is most consonant and agreeable with His nature, that the best things should be most common. For nothing is more natural to infinite goodness, than to make the best things most frequent; and only things worthless scarce. Then I began to enquire what things were most common: Air, Light, Heaven and Earth, Water, the Sun, Trees, Men and Women, Cities, Temples, &c. These I found common and obvious to all: Rubies, Pearls, Diamonds, Gold and Silver, these I found scarce, and to the most denied. Then began I to consider and compare the value of them which I measured by their serviceableness, and by the excellencies which would be found in them, should they be taken away. And in conclusion, I saw clearly, that there was a real valuableness in all the common things; in the scarce, a feigned.’ I like this, partly as it includes ‘Men and Women, Cities, Temples, &c’ and not just ‘nature’, and partly as its countercultural ethos resonates with my own assessment of ‘excellencies’: the reason I have decided to walk between two obscure stations in Warwickshire rather than, say, climb Snowdon or sip champagne on an airship drifting beneath an exotic sun.

An abandoned bounty of crab apples lay on the ground, all duly photographed as I enjoyed the potlatch profligacy of a camera with a gigantic storage card. After a while I was crossing the M42, recording one of its marginal corners, wondering how many times we have driven beneath this bridge unaware of details such as this sapling, beginning to attack the fence.

Interlude: Broken Vessel: making a Paul’s Pitcher
According to The English Year by Steve Roud, consulted rapidly on the way out at 6am, today is the Eve of St Paul’s Conversion. Apparently this was celebrated by Cornish miners with ‘a custom of setting up a water pitcher, which they then pelt with stones until it is broken in pieces‘ after which ‘a new one is…bought and carried to a beer-shop to be filled with beer.’ I’m not sure what I think about St Paul, or conversion for that matter, but the symbolism of an old vessel being shattered and a new one filled seemed worthy of expression. I conceived the idea of buying two cups, breaking one then filling another like the Cornish miners, or failing that ‘throwing broken crockery at people’s doors, or into their hallways‘ (another old custom.) (I wasn’t really considering this; don’t write in…) Finding I had a 40-minute wait in Birmingham I went is search of crockery. This being the town centre, no charity shops or Poundlands presented themselves so I ended up in House of Fraser with minutes to spare, fuming behind dawdlers on the several escalators leading to the homeware department. I scanned the china with a rising sense of alarm – Villeroy and Boche coffee cups for £10.95 in the sale – thinking ‘I can’t back out now; this is art, maybe even religion…’ But I found some £1.50 items in the cheapskates’ section. A stone by a small stiled bridge (redundant as there’s a wide open gate next to it) provided an opportunity for the breaking.

The next day,to complete the process, it was time to ‘raise the goblet in the forest’ – the whole (as opposed to broken) cup now filled with tea.

(Afterwards, I thought I would see what the Two of Cups symbolised in the Tarot. A deck was open by the book I was looking for, the Two of Cups (union of entities, worlds of lovers) lying on the top.)

A couple of miles of fields, and a railway line crossing brought me to Tanworth-in Arden. I had a drink in the Bell. It was not very pub-like with its ‘gleaming, modern interior’ but did have some nice features: a local produce market in the car park (where I bought a piece of oak smoked cheese by Fowlers of Earlswood), a small shop and Post Office next to the bar. When my pint of Slater’s Top Totty proved vinegary as well as unreconstructed, it was changed without demur for the ever-reliable Landlord.

I was musing at the horrendous nature of the muzak they were playing when I noticed a framed picture of Nick Drake. The captions explained that Drake had lived in Tanworth and was buried in the church opposite. Nick Drake! As well  as being a surprise opportunity to pay respects to a great artist, this was also a piece of  synchronicity as the very Phil Rickman book that had turned me on to Thomas Traherne also featured a character based on Nick Drake, which inspired me to seek out his music. (Our friend the Revd Dr Sharon X. Jones once made me a tour t-shirt for the fictional Drakealike character Lol Robinson as a birthday present – back at the height of our enthusiasm for these books, when we would talk endlessly about them, sometimes whilst drinking Hereford cider to round out the atmosphere, alienating all surrounding friends.)

I visited the modest grave (bottom left), and the church, and moved on.

The way out of Tanworth involves a mile-long avenue leading to a house called Umberslade – a long straight treelined path that stands out on the map and sucked many photographs out of me, beautiful in the blue-skied winter afternoon.

There is a ‘children’s farm’ on the Umberslade estate and for some miles afterward I felt strangely bereft, as a childless middle-aged wanderer. Normally my thoughts on the subject are more ‘Cool! No kids – don’t need to pay much attention to pureed food, sippy cups or schools’ rather than ‘Shit! Forgot to have any kids – may be missing out’ – so why was I suddenly choked up at the thought of imaginary, unhad children watching goats being milked in an out-of-season tourist attraction?

Skirting the grounds of Umberslade, now mapped by me as a beautifully-named nexus of paths unwalked and alternative lives unled (which themselves may live somewhere, maybe in Traherne’s ‘Eden fair’), I reached the M40. This highway is the main artery that we use when driving (rather than walking episodically) to Brighton. There was a tunnel beneath the motorway but I clambered to the top of a bank to get a glimpse of the road.

From there, a mile zigzagging across fields took me to Lapworth. The afternoon was quite bright now.

I would have visited the church, but believing I had a train to catch hurried onwards.

After another mile I joined the Stratford-Upon-Avon canal for a while, then dashed through commuter-village streets to Lapworth Station. I thought the trains went on at 13 minutes past each hour, however a) I was only partially correct; there was no 15.13 in the timetable and b) the 16.13 was cancelled. I therefore had a two-hour wait. (Some gentle mockery of our creaky public transport system could follow, but Merseytart does it so much better so I refer you to him.) I decided to do a bit more and then double back – an extra couple of miles that I may have to do again, hopefully not as it involved an unpleasantly muddy stretch of canal, a kind of slippery sticky mud. A nice pub, Tom O’ The Wood in Rowington, was my reward. There (By my green candle!) I had a pint of Pure Ubu.

After that, it was back up the sticky canalside to Lapworth, light failing, to catch the first of three trains back home. Nearly at home around 9.30pm I encountered the remnants of 500 Scouts who had spent the evening navigating through the local countryside.

Interlude: ‘Hank Williams died when I was five’: iPod shuffle
As well as reading odd bits of Traherne, I let my iPod serve up a random song every hour. Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt singing ‘Raise the Dead’. Johnny Cash introducing a song at San Quentin, talking about the miracle at Cana: “He turned the water into wine, of all things.” Martha Wainwright’s opening line that “Poetry is no place for a heart that’s a whore” heard in a strangely peaceful wooded dell-like place mere yards from the M40 Southbound lane. One of The Creation’s songs, their music ‘red with purple flashes’, a blazing anthem:  “I Am The Walker“. And that will do for today, however sad it is to live one life rather than all possible lives, however the broken vessel will be filled; for today at least I am The Walker.

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I was intrigued by a message on Twitter mentioning ‘Location based/locative storytelling via your GPS device’ –  imagining some gizmo that would record and upload narrative about places from out in the field, a technoshaman’s dictaphone.

Looking at the StoryTraveller website, I discovered something slightly different: ‘Yes it is a GPS that shows you the way, but above that the StoryTraveller automatically tells you the stories about where you are, based on your position.’

So it tells you stories, not the other way round. Sounds intriguing, but whose stories? Mine? Some wild poet, undergoing location-based ‘derangement of the senses’ and setting it down in mad holy words? Unlikely, as

The StoryTraveller Solution allows Organizations to bring information (content and guidance) together with experience on places that would normally not be possible, or just too expensive or impossible to have that up-to-date information at the location.

Having said that, the example of ‘Walk’ applications is quite poetic:

Seeing the invisible. Look at the nightlife by day. Have a look in animal holes. Talk a walk with a satellite guided companion that happens to know all the stories of the surroundings, whether its nature, culture or history. From wild-west walking to city walk.

It will be interesting to see what kind of organizations use this, or similar products to create routes that can be accessed on portable devices, in which ‘User is immersed in a real story stimulating all senses and feelings’ and can ‘have an experience on a route based on GPS through audio and video fragments.’ (I could envisage using this at work, to devise an campus tour, revealing the invisible University any day of the year). I’m sure there could be some great applications, but I await the noncommercial Wiki version so that I can be my own ‘Story Traveller’.

Thinking about this stuff, the way copies of the real world like Google Earth are steadily silted up with accretions of images and words, reminded me somehow of a Gerard Manley Hopkins poem, ‘God’s Grandeur’:

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

We’re the ones who tread and tread and tread; do our words just add to the smearing and blearing as we try to ‘explain the world to ourselves and give value to the things we love’?

(Pictures are from my story and not associated with Navitell or StoryTeller.)

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I wrote yesterday that I was resolved to do more local exploring. As today involved staying in, waiting for a new washing machine to be delivered (the previous Indesit having expired after a paltry six years of service) I was confined, literally, to my own backyard. Now we’re not keen gardeners, more accidental owners of an overgrown tract of land, the outdoor equivalent of Miss Havisham’s ruined mansion. But one thing we do seem to have done is to populate the garden with a variety of icons plundered from the world’s religions. We never set out to be polytheists – but visits to garden centres and shops such as Past Times seem to have taken us in that direction. (Who knew such innocent-seeming places would become hotbeds of idolatry?) As well as official gods there are demiurges, sprites and avatars of less certain provenance. To show what I mean here’s a theologicomythical photo safari of my garden…

To start with here’s a Buddha

From Garden Gods

kept company by another, who is steadily being absorbed by the undergrowth.

From Garden Gods

This Celtic cross brings a hint of Christianity (and the ‘Pet Sematary’ reference may deter visiting media-literate cats):

From Garden Gods

This god I made myself, from worn bricks found on the coast north of Crosby:

From Garden Gods

Hidden behind a tree, barely visible, is a ‘circle of friends’

From Garden Gods

(Look carefully, this is the kind of thing you’re seeking – you can just see the tops of their heads

– our garden ones remind me of the stone trolls in Tolkien.)

This cherub is guarded by three gargoyles, surrounding a young maple, with the wintry skeleton of a lemonbalm in the background:

From Garden Gods

Kuan Yin, goddess of compassion, has some kind of fertility rabbit for company

From Garden Gods

And who’s this, clambering through a bed of bolted herbs and the broken shards of a terramundi pot? Why, it’s Lara Croft in toy form, bought for 10p at a car boot sale:

From Garden Gods

This guy brings a flavour of Lewis Carroll or Beatrix Potter to his corner by the garage:

From Garden Gods

A grumpy imp (like the one in the Talisman game) looks after an opposite corner:

From Garden Gods

and we have a guard dog by the back door:

From Garden Gods

Peering into Jennie’s office, we see a fading fairy, the tip of Ganesha’s head and part of a black Madonna. (Plus there’s a Rosie the Riveter action figure just out of shot.)

From Garden Gods

Indoors, there are more Buddhas starting with this one, the Buddha of the Radiator, often found imbuing our drying clothes with infinite compassion:

From Garden Gods

By the fire, another Ganesha

From Garden Gods

and above it, not one but two Buddhas, a cross and postcard featuring our old pals the Circle of Friends.

From Garden Gods

Buddha wins on points.  There are still a few pantheons left that we haven’t incorporated into our decor… not many though. We have gods the way other people have squirrel infestations.

In our defence, I’d say we’re not so much worshipping graven images as allowing them to proliferate so as  to reduce their effect 🙂

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I tend to operate as a sleep camel, waking early during the week and then having marathon sleeps at the weekend, which collapse into deferred dreams. Recently, some of these have involved us living in versions of my parents’ house and this morning I was in the back garden, noticing new desire paths cutting through it, angling across the footpath beyond where the fence used to be (the official path now falling into disuse I noticed), making new routes through other gardens, dissolving boundaries… Awake, seeing a clearing blue sky, we resolved to go for a walk on Formby Sands, but frittered away so much time on chores and errands that it was gray and raw when we got there.

From Formby

This is very near where I started the walk just over a year ago, and I was struck by how little exploring of my own area I’ve been doing, something to rectify this year.

Trying out my new camera (a Panasonic FX500 for those with an interest) we walked towards Southport with the wind behind us. Occasionally the remnants of buildings can be seen, scattered bricks and stones being steadily worn.

From Formby

The wind, grass and sand make stark but sensual forms.

From Formby

Death has washed in and out of view this week. Some famous people died, some friends-of-friends died, some online writers (such as Forest Wisdom and Solitary Walker) wrote movingly on dying. I suppose the sum of all journeys, including this one, is a death-point so it’s probably worth reviewing it, as part of the general routefinding task. (I should check… perhaps my camera has a [FUNERAL] setting in a sub-menu somewhere, along with [PARTIES] and [SNOW]). When it comes to death I have no answers or fixed concepts – whether “I” am eternal, ephemeral, only actually existing at this moment, any or all of these… dunno. When we pass, do we change from having a particular identity to being part of the generality? Deceased, are we ‘held in the mind of God’ assuming God is or has a kind of vast supercomputer that stores all possible things, including our lives and thoughts, like a camera with infinite pixels stored on an infinite SD card? Maybe this isn’t even a religious concept: if, as Barry Allen (The Flash) says in this month’s Final Crisis comic, ‘At relativistic speeds…space, time, light, it all runs together and becomes one thing. Beyond the superluminal barrier, matter converts to pure information’… then such information-realms could contain all kinds of things…and…

But maybe it is better, even necessary, not to try to hold it all together.

Enough perhaps to be a wave that rises and subsides, living out one’s waveliness in a fine old style.

I’m remembering now (at home having with a cup of tea, warmed by our actual fire and also the universal campfire of stored pixels) a quote from Captain Beefheart: The stars are matter, we are matter, but it doesn’t matter.

From Formby

We turned and walked back, into the wind now, sand whipping our eyes. An elderly couple were collecting sea coal. Things blew past in the wind – a feather, a strand of tinsel (recalling that this date, 17th January, was Twelfth Night under the old calendar.) Back at the starting point of today’s stroll, I was strangely delighted to find hundreds of dead Christmas trees being used to make windbreaks, holding the dunes in dune-form. At least for a while.

From Formby

Technical postscript, FAO the living mainly

The FX500 camera seems pretty decent. It has manual controls (aperture, speed, ISO) as well as automatic functions. In terms of lens quality and capacity it leaves my old Fuji in the shade. There’s a massive zoom, eg from here (no zoom)

From Formby

to here

From Formby

(max of digital zoom with ‘film grain’ effect added in Picasa.  There are fewer pixels in the digi zoom mode.) It also has all sorts of comedy functions and presets which may actually prove useful. It’s about the size of a packet of ten Number Six and not much heavier (though considerably costlier.) The LCD on the back is about the size of a cinema screen – the one you get when  you see a film at the end of its run and the multiplex have put it in their smallest theatre, the one usually used for Tuesday afternoon pensioners’ screenings. And it’s just as well as most of the controls are touch screen.

Another new thing is switching from Flickr to Picasa. The upload speed is much better, the option to convert to a web-friendly filesize during the upload, and user-friendly geotagging (using Google Earth) all seem preferable.

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Inspired by Wiffle Lever to Full! (in book and blog form), I have dug out something I wrote in Junior School, for your entertainment. Apparently I was in ‘Class Three’, presumably the third year, so I would have been 9 or 10, in 1971-2. The school was St Nicholas in Portslade, and I will walk past it in due course. Mr Stone, an excellent teacher, had us doing all kinds of interesting things, such as making a computer from cards with holes in, accessed using knitting needles (see #5 in this for more info). One project involved making little hardback books, with a spine and a set of pages stitched in. Mine had a cool psychedelic cover…

We were then allowed to write a story in the book we had made and mine is transcribed below. Please note, despite my occasional flights of fancy, this is (as Jennie will attest) an absolutely verbatim version of the original text.

Genesis II

Chapter I

Operation ‘Eliminate’

Alvin stood in the thought arena, being part of an imaginary adventure. He was the most experienced space pilot in Durania. He had an extra eye as his father was a Duranian. His thought line broke as he was blasted to atoms by a Duranian villain. “Phew” he said as he made sure he was all there.

Meanwhile, Aros 5 was playing chess with a computer. He was a half transistorised Sirinian. He did not know that within a decimal week he would be making the most important decisions of his flesh life. The third was David Thompson, of unmutated Earth stock. He had been visu-phoned to get Alvin and Aros 5 to report to base camp control. The controler sat at his desk. “You three have been chosen for a special assignment, of great danger, and importance. As you see, Durania is in great tumult and confusion. A Ccetan spy has stolen documents involving our relationship with Cetan. Once they have them they have grounds to make war.”
“We’ll do it.” said Alvin.
“Yes.” monotoned Aros 5.
“Sure” said Thompson.
“I havent told you what to do yet.” Your job is to eliminate him. Operation ‘Eliminate'”

Chapter 2

Take off.

At 5.00 hours next morning they jumped from their sleeping pods. At 5.10 they slithered to a halt on the alumium floor of the take off area. “Uh-oh! said Dave, as Colenal Nash approched. “Prepare for a barrage of jokes garrenteed to turn a pilot with butterflies into a nervous wreck.”
“Hi you lot” said Colenal Nash. He went on for five minutes until Alvin cried out loud “Be quiet for heavens sake”! Nashes eyes glared. he turned, and walked off.

In the cockpit, Alvin prepared for take off. He wrenched back the starting lever, and an eerie blue glow fell over the station as the power-beam came to life. The dials whent round 2 degrees. The crew where forced back into their contour-couches. The foam of their couches rose up as they left the apmosphere.

“Have you tested the atmosferical pressure, Aros?” said Alvin.
“No – testing.” Aros pulled back the lever marked Test-Atmosphere.
T. “Wow!” said Aros!
“According to this its over-pressure by 104”!
“Radio the ground-hogs and ask for advice!”
“Okay, wait – yes, got ’em.’ Hello – ground control, we’ve got 104 over-pressure” Whats that? Okay.”
“What do they suggest?”
“They say someone forgot the welding on pipe 1a and 1b.”

In the engine room all was well, but the air room was shrouded in nitrogen.
“Look!!” said Dave.
True enough, one pipe was digging into the other.
“Get the laser!” cried Dave.
“Here!” said Alvin. Dave shielded his eyes and fired. Sparks and globials of molten metal flew in all directions. His two friends helped him to the medical room.

Carefully they removed the pieces of metal from his scarred face. They covered his face with cool, antiseptic dressing.
“I,-is the pipe okay?” said Dave.
“Yeah, sure, try to get some sleep.”
“I guess so.” said Dave.

Chapter 3

Dimensionel Slip

“You lot.” cried Alvin!

“I’ve got a pod of some kind on the scanner.”

“3.78 zm by 4.38 by 10.00 by 500zm on the 4 dimensional map.” said Aros.

“Lasers wouldn’t hit her.”

“Best not blast it to oblivion till we know who’s in it.”

“If you where an escaping spy, would you chat over the radio?” said Dave.

“Put it on full magnification”  said Aros 5#

“What was the number of the stolen pod?”

“58-BD11#” answered Aros promtly.

“Okay, we’ve got her.” said Alvin. The mighty craft bore down on its prey.

“Firing all armaments!”

Thre photon torpedoes fired in quick sucsession. The pod swayed and drifted as the stabilisation failed.

“I’t’s no good, well use the laser.” said Alvin.

“Laser locked on, fire!!”


The pod lurched and drifted into category 10-8B space, unknown.


We’ve got him on the run!” said Dave

The power beam turned from blue to a blinding white.


The instruments suddenly span round and stopped 30 below normal. The stars on the screen shifted, and showed them to be near a huge, white sun. Also, the pod they were pursuing turned into a dying comet. “W-what happened?”

“I think we have passed into another dimension.” said Aros. “And I think the sides are melting from that sun.”

“Then lets get out of here before my wrist thermometeter blows up.” said Dave.

“I’m not sure this type of space would respond to our power beam.” said Aros. “What do you mean ‘this type of space’?”


“All space is made of hydrogen and heliam, and this space might be made up differently.”

“Thank you.” said Aros.

But with the help of computer 003# they escaped from the uncannuily hot sun.

. . . . . . .

“Why is that sun so hot?” asked dave.

“Whithin 1 hour it shall turn nova.” said Aros “Were at a safe distance, though.”


55 standard minutes later, the three sat round the polarised porthole watching the unstable star.

It was like a blot now, a large white blot. larg sunspots covering its blinding surface apeared every second.  Then, it happened. Bright orange covered the screen, and a few pieces of ash remained from then once mighty sun.

Chapter 4


For 13 hours now Aros and Alvin had been programing the computers, analyzing their output and making imaginary situations. Dave passed his time by reading magazines and doodling on the flight manual.

Suddenly, Aros excalimed, “If Thompson G.C agrees to help we can return to our dimension in 1 hours.”

“Of course Ill help you, you transistorised lump!”

“Thankyou!” said Aros, blind to insult.

Ten hours later all three

“Remember, when the dial flickers, press these buttons until the lights flash.”

Suddenly, all the computers cut. “W-what did that?”

“An unexplainable force.”

Suddenlyley a voice thundered through their brains. A voice so powerful that it stuck its jarring fingers through the tightly woven fibre of human mind.



The three men stumbled dazedly, and Dave acidentaly pressed a button. For a second, on the viewing screen, they saw a huge black ball, before the viewing aparatus cut out.


“Is everything…..just..dead??” said Alvin.

“Yes. Exept the weapons.” Said Aros.

Dave fired the Photon tr Torpedoes.

Suddenly, the voice came again…………


Dave crumpled to the ground…dead!

Chapter 5.



You mean…..we can have…..babies??!



A Day later, they landed on the planet Genesis II, as they had named it. It was fully equipped with buildings and spacecraft. One day, they would meet with the otheer dimensions.

So there you have it. As I recall, the story would have finished with them returning safely home, but I realised I had a few more pages to fill and carried on. Clearly, despite living near Brighton, my understanding of the word ‘bisexual’ was hazy at best – in fact I probably thought I had made it up. I remember Mr Stone glancing at what I was doing at that point and remarking that I should ‘be careful with those big words’. He also showed his teaching excellence by praising the story, but giving it some adult critique also, along the lines of  ‘I thought the storyline about the escaped spy fizzled out a bit’. But, whatever its shortcomings, ‘Genesis II’ received the highest academic accolade available at St Nicholas in those days: a ‘signature’ from the Headmaster, Mr Humphreys.

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Looking back

After a year of walking and a year of snapping pictures with a simple point-and-shoot camera (which I hope to replace soon), here’s a look back along the trail.

A year ago I was looking out from the end of Southport pier

11 months later I was shivering on a request-stop station south of Birmingham

reached via a blurry twilight dream street

In between, many miles of path in great variety:


More to come. I said I’d stitch together the places I’ve known with a million steps, but who’s counting? Soon it will be time to set out again…

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