I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
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* One exception: short stories.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

WALK 5. Pennsylvania

 I have disturbed you all too much. Here's a good walk. It revealed things, charmed me and suggested that a (then) recent act of madness was going to turn out well.

I was appropriately clad in a three-piece black/white speckle bought in Savile Row; elastic-sided ankle boots that caused a soignée woman at the Carnegie-Mellon Bank to laugh: "I've got slippers like those." I was leaving Northside YMCA to explore my new home town, Pittsburgh - in effect to explore the USA. I looked exotic and confirmed it every time I opened my mouth.

Northside was exotic itself. Huge wedding-cake houses, once the home of steel industry magnates, now in decay. My new employer occupied one of these mansions.

However it was the detail that said "foreign". Stumpy upright tubes along what I would have called pavements but which I would have to re-identify as sidewalks; I knew them to be fire-plugs, familiar from movies but quite, quite odd in reality. Untidy power lines, casually strung from posts. Road surfaces so pock-marked they appeared Third World.

I walked by a park of sorts, then took Seventh Street. So utilitarian, as if this huge country had lacked the energy to dream up proper names, Crossed the Allegheny river which proved the reverse. Looked right to the point where the Allegheny met the Monongahela (These names, these names - one reason for coming) and saw what I later learned was The Bridge to Nowhere – incomplete, brought to a temporary halt years ago, now a municipal joke.

Spent the rest of the morning among the books in Kaufmann's department store. Hundreds of titles I'd never heard of; sustenance for years.

An unadventurous morning but the adventure had been to take the Icelandic Airlines prop plane from Prestwick in the first place.


  1. From where I'm sitting, having just read this, your vignette comes across a fond tribute. It was kind, anyway.

  2. Pittsburgh holds a certain charm for me, although I've never been. Most of my knowledge comes from the history of Fort Pitt and the rebellion of the Great Lakes tribes in the mid-1700's. This was a good walk. Did you visit the Pirates ballpark, too?

  3. Native appellations were adopted to a great extent....the natives themselves not so much. But then I could drive 12 miles to Norwich, NY and buy a book about the American Revolution. Place names seem to endure, though locally a small hamlet switched (80 years ago) from the lovely "Galena" to "North Norwich".

  4. I have just downloaded Gorgan Times onto my Kindle. This feels rude somehow as I now 'know' you (digital rather than biblical).

    Would it have been more polite of me to buy a copy for my bookshelf?

  5. The Crow: I have a real fondness for Pittsburgh, I felt it to be home. When the company moved to Philadelphia and I went with them it wasn't in any sense the same. Later someone offered me a job back in Pittsburgh and the scaly old monster didn't disappoint when we returned.

    RW (zS): You're talking about Forbes Field not, I take it, the newer Riverside Stadium. In 1966 I opened the Pirates' season, sitting in the bleachers, temperature said to be 37 deg but possibly, as Henry V predicted about those who fought at Agincourt, I'm remembering "with advantages". 'Twas a good walk. Every step thrilled me. I'd got there, on my jaxie.

    MikeM: The native names nearly always worked (eg, Misquamicut Beach, RI) but those who came later proved capable of rising to the occasion. Two more of my favourites: Mystic and Watch Hill.

    B2: I'm delighted; nah, I've gotta go French: bouleversé; that says it better. The desire is to be read, never mind the format, although my publisher would have a different opinion. Scattered down the years I'd previously written 4½ amateurish novels; Gorgon Times represents a decision to take fiction seriously. I hope it reads like a novel but if it doesn't feel free to tell me why. Being known digitally is as good as the real thing, if somewhat different.