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,
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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Not quite LEJOG

Belmont Road's old council flats, now happily replaced
LEJOG stands for Land's End to John O'Groats, the sort of long-distance walk brother Sir Hugh goes in for. He's at it now in the West Country. I attempt to compete with more modest projects.

They’re laying new gas mains in Belmont Road; murder if I want to drive down to the city, but walking I can race the immobilised cars. More than two months and my hair needs cutting.

I walk hard along adjacent thoroughfares - Dorchester, Stanbury, Chichester – then suddenly bethink myself: I’m an old man hurrying. What’s his problem, people will ask? If it’s his bladder he’s going the wrong way.

Past Tesco’s car-wash, a noisy, thrashing device frequently labelled Out Of Order. I’m not a patron; pay six quid and it rains. Hereford mud is reddish and stands out on a car’s flanks.

Beyond is Tesco itself, convenient but never surprising. No, I tell a lie. This year strawberries were superlative. And robust champagne at a tenner, identifiably from Rheims, not flat prosecco nor insipid cava. Now I’m into Belmont Road and my feet, softened by wearing trainers, start to ache slightly. I should be proud of this self-mortification but at my age you start to worry: am I overdoing things? The alliterative image of a pensioner prostrate on the pavement, other pensioners pondering and powerless.

The council flats on the right have been replaced with smart terraces and I’m glad the city can afford this. What I’m not glad about is the bookie’s shop next to the mini-market. Should the nominally poor be tempted?

This is the tedious bit, I can see half a mile ahead, under the old railway bridge, Beeching-ised in the sixties, now a grossly over-engineered footbridge. On the left the new Polish deli which I welcomed; until I picked out a chunk of smoked pork and found I couldn’t buy it. It carried no price.

Not far now to Body Beautiful, a salon I don’t usually admit to. For obvious reasons

3 comments:

Roderick Robinson said...

I can't bear for this wonderful example of the writer's craft to be left an orphan, commentless and unrecognised. I must needs (once a syntactical structure labelled obsolescent; now, I think, wholly obsolete) provide a comment myself.

The aforementioned Sir Hugh, my brother and an ever-optimistic gadget collector, has acquired a programme which analyses the gradient profile of any walk he has done. - the saw-tooth trace indicating how much he ascended and then descended, over and over again throughout the walk. In a kindly gesture he subjected this walk I describe to such analysis and concluded I'd not only descended a total of 58 ft (I had more or less recognised this though the slope is very very gentle) but I'd ascended 13 ft without noticing! I looked at the trace Sir Hugh had created and all became clear. To ensure there was sufficient clearance beneath the inoperative railway bridge I mention they must have excavated the road beneath, just a little. I can't in all conscience say that the 13 ft ascent left me breathless.

Blonde Two said...

We Blondes have been playing around with such 'walk measuring' gadgets this week in the Peak District (clue in the name) and I have to say that I do not enjoy them (even when they work properly, which our's didn't). Who wants to be told after eight hours out on the hills, that they have only actually walked for four of them? Who wants to know that their average speed was 3 km per hour when they were going as fast as they could? Height gain, yes, that is good to know; but you can work that out from a map... and even that negates some of the effort that you put in to climb the hill in the first place.

Roderick Robinson said...

Blonde Two: We are sustained by illusion and hate anything that pricks the bubble. We thought we'd walked further and look for all manner of means that might maintain this fiction. People who walk for pleasure continue to labour over descriptions of sheep-dotted hillsides, sunsets and the good old English oak when there are much more fascinating things going on in their own minds. Dare I describe the way I get through the dull bits by counting my steps? the walker asks. Nah, I daren't, I'd seem such a wuss - and thus a predictable tirade about those who scatter Malteser bags over woodland paths.

Remember this: imagination weighs nothing in your rucksack and the chances are you'll never leave it behind. Unless, of course, that is your intention.