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.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
* One exception: short stories.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Ejecting at ground level

 For complicated reasons brother Sir Hugh stayed the night with us before embarking on his latest pilgrimage from Boston, Lincolnshire, west to Barmouth on the Welsh coast. What I should have raised but didn't was the French verb that covers these wanderings - errer - which suggests, to English ears at least, they are a mistake.

Well lubricated with drink we discussed the psychology of walking, notably the nit-picking application of "rules". Walks must start and finish at specific points, a yard or two out and the spiritual nature of the project is hopelessly traduced.

As more drink went down we entered the much darker territory of "bailing out" - failing to finish a walk for anything other than force majeure. This is a very serious matter and can leave the unfulfilled walker with deep mental lesions. Guilt enfolds him (I’ve chosen the masculine pronoun deliberately; I believe women walkers are much more well-adjusted.) and he is convinced he has let down the pedestrian community.

I offered this explanation. Walks need not be taken and are therefore an artificial construct. A sore foot and/or an attack of the runs may combine with a heavy shower to bring the artificiality more sharply into focus. The walker becomes uncomfortably aware of the uselessness of what he is doing and requires professional sympathy. Since many walkers are often "getting away from people" psychiatrists are unlikely on the average blasted heath.

An equally artificial construct consists of swimming sufficient pool lengths to cover a mile. I know, I've been there. In embracing an artificial construct one runs the risk of becoming an artificial person. Many have suggested that in my case the change has paid off.


  1. Now this is an interesting one. Failing to finish a walk takes on even greater proportions when your firs post-walk action is to write and tell the world-of-walkers about it. Of course, knowing that you are going to have to make a public announcement makes you more likely to finish. I have an additional pressure at the moment; here I am in the land of grand 'tramps' and, in truth, all I want to do is potter around the farm and have bonfires. Do I disappoint my readership or do I go forth and find mountains?

  2. Blonde Two: This a very artless question. In your case, the relationship between blogger and your commenters has now reached the intensity of an illicit love affair, your status as an object of desire is long established, and you need now do no more than blow your nose to be interesting. So potter and reflect.

    Just one obligation and that is you must maintain the writing style that caused you to swim into your readers' consciousness. Occasionally revelatory, occasionally coquettish - like one of those mythical mavericks that liked to get up the nostrils of the Gods. Corporeal one moment, evanescent the next. You can do that standing on your head.

    Only adult questions from now on.

  3. I cannot pursue the pleasure of walking at present, RR, having a dicky left foot (and no companiable dog to accompany me anyway. So it's cycling only at present.
    However, I have just been reading "Pathlands" by Peter Owen Jones:


    and was very impressed by the amount of detail he manages to encompass during a walk.
    Well worth the effort of reading it (if you haven't already)

  4. I think rather 'ballader' than 'errer', much more romantic.

    A friend in Yorkshire had joined a small walking-for-wimps type group where the rule was that the first person to find a walk too much would be able to end it for everyone, with no complaints from the other members. I don't think I could have coped with that; being called to stop when I wanted to go further would have made me resentful, while being the one to call the halt would have made me ashamed.

    Good walking to Sir Hugh anyway!

  5. Avus: I read very little these days; writing leaves me exhausted. A friend made some cogent comments and recommendations on my latest novel, Second Hand, and I've just re-edited the MS three times (90,000 words a pop).

    Lucy: The Yorkshire scheme sounds peculiarly insensitive, failing to make any allowance for human nature. But as you know I'm no longer a Tyke so I don't have to defend it. I set my third novel, Blest Redeemer, in Bradford and frequently found myself having to stay my vengeful hand. Mind you that doesn't preclude a satirical short story.

  6. Mmm, it was a small and recently recolonised attractive small ex-mill town where there is scarce a Yorkshire accent to be heard nowadays, the high street is full of shops selling grow your own sawdust toilets and the group's members were probably just taking time out from watching classics of avant garde transgender cinema or empowering meerkats or something.

    Don't tell them I said that. I don't imagine they read here.

  7. Lucy: I suppose it had to happen. Tykes pretending not to be Tykes but doing it in such a Tykish way that they merely underscore their racial origins.

    If you prick us, do we not fail to bleed?
    If you tickle us, do we not whinge?
    If you poison us, do we not retreat to Luddendenfoot?