LONDON Strolls … #3. Waterloo

Waterloo Walk

On Revisiting the gentle London strolls of my Youth . . .

 

  1. WATERLOO

I set off excitedly, without trepidation, from Waterloo Station.
Via Hungerford Bridge, I briskly traverse the Thames.
At a jaunty pace, I cross The Embankment,
before enthusiastically undertaking the short climb of Villiers Street.

Swiftly crossing The Strand,
I tread vigorously into St Martin’s Lane.
Almost strutting into Charing Cross Road,
I pause to browse the books in Cecil Court’s shops,
soon afterwards  cutting through Garrick Lane.
I drift back now to St. Martin’s Lane
to take a welcome break in Goodwin’s Court Georgian Tea rooms.
 
Then on to plod the length of Long Acre
before lazily cutting through James Street to reach Covent Garden.
Ambling sluggishly, I pass the Royal Opera House,
from where I step out with determination,
although somewhat less purposefully now.

Thus I return to the Strand,
following it along into the length of Fleet Street until,
visibly wearying, I reach St. Paul’s Cathedral and turn right
to cross the Millennium Bridge over the Thames.

Now, heading languidly westwards,
I sluggishly wend my way upriver,
along the South Bank of the Thames,
past the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern Gallery,
Oxo Tower Wharf and the Royal Festival Hall.

Meandering now, very slowly and decidedly weary,
until, much relieved, and decidedly thankful,
I find myself back at Waterloo Station.

 

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LONDON Strolls … #2. Hyde Park

 

Gloucester Rd Walk

On Revisiting the gentle London strolls of my Youth . . .

 

  1. HYDE PARK

On foot from Gloucester Road
I step out briskly and with soaring expectation along Cromwell Road.
Striding forcefully then up Queens Gate,
I shortly find myself, almost trotting now, beside the Royal Albert Hall.
Soon afterwards, I am jauntily following Kensington Gore.
Slowing a little, I meander now, across the width of Hyde Park.
Pausing frequently and sauntering to take in the scenery,
I haltingly cross over the Serpentine.

Slackening my pace again, I keep heading North to Lancaster Gate.
Then, at a relaxed pace, I drift into Sussex Square,
from where, slowing even further,
I tread the hot pavements along Sussex Gardens.

Working my way sluggishly along Westbourne Terrace
I then trudge the length of Praed Street
to reach Paddington Station.
Thence, struggling increasingly, I head to Edgware Road. 

Continuing south to Oxford St and Marble Arch,
I move, almost idling, and with the occasional stumble,
along the exacting side-walks of Monopoly Land.
Then through Mayfair, plodding now, 
down Park Lane.

Slowing even more, (Is that possible without actually stopping?)
I traipse across Piccadilly and round Hyde Park Corner.
I turn, unsteadily, into Grosvenor Place,
heading towards Buckingham Palace,
but, after taking a breather,
and deciding to simplify my intended route,
I make a right turn through Belgravia.

Treading heavily, I work my way through Embassy Land.
I stumble across Sloane Street
to Cromwell Road and the V&A Museum.

Thus, at last, weary and definitely plodding now, 
my failing feet drag my exhausted body
back to Gloucester Road, to relaxation and
the sought after assuagement of the aches in my trembling limbs

 

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Book Swap – Red Renaissance

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Photo: WHB … In a Devonshire Village – 2019

Book Swap – Red Renaissance

Why not? 
The phone now silenced
Calm contemplation
corners the kiosk
The urgent queue
becomes now
The Silence of the Library

Culture creep
now succeeding conversation
Cerebral centre for sure
Telephone Exchange
gives way to
Book Exchange

A new purpose in life
for the
candid kiosk
Lifeline for the lonely 
Book Barter 
brings back to back
book for book
blood red fervour
to the village

Once the life saviour
Now given
to silent contemplation
Shilling meter
and B button gone

Silence Of The Lambs
and Passage To India
now broadening 
Lost Horizons

Gormenghast
and Shades Of Grey
fostering Fantasy for 
lonely locals

A Rebirth for
communication 
Red Renaissance
for both Book and Booth

 

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The Moon And Sixpence

 

astronomy bright cloud light

Photo by Just Another Photography Dude on Pexels.com

 

The Moon & Sixpence

 

At such a sight
As the moon at night
So high, so bright
My thoughts take flight
The sheer delight
Of its vibrant white
Its pungent bite
Some day might
Emit its light
End my plight
Leaving me quite
Without foresight
Yet still contrite

All this I write
So slight
And yet
So recondite

My life’s Sixpence 
I’ve almost spent
It’s true
I’m getting old
And to my cost
I’ve loved and lost
My heady tale
Is nearly told

For all my time
The pain, the wine
I’ve trod the edge
So they allege

But despite the sorrow  
The joy and pain
Nothing in vain

The theme has been
I’ve lived my dream

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NOTE:  From ‘Wikipedia’, describing the derivation of the title for Somerset Maugham’s novel, ‘The Moon and Sixpence’, which is loosely based on the life of French artist, Paul Gauguin.

According to some sources, the title, the meaning of which is not explicitly revealed in the book, was taken from a review of Maugham’s novel Of Human Bondage in which the novel’s protagonist, Philip Carey, is described as “so busy yearning for the moon that he never saw the sixpence at his feet.”  According to a 1956 letter from Maugham, “If you look on the ground in search of a sixpence, you don’t look up, and so miss the moon.” Maugham’s title echoes the description of Gauguin by his contemporary biographer, Meier-Graefe (1908): “He [Gauguin] may be charged with having always wanted something else.”

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Three Condensed Fairy Tales

Little Red Riding Hood

LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD

Never visit your dear old nan
Without a brave wood-cutting man,
For when she smiles and shows her teeth
You’ll find that sly old wolf beneath;
But your woodcutter he’ll protect you,
He’ll tear that mask off and will axe him,
He will not pause to even ask ‘im
What he’s doing in your nan’s nightie;
Transvestite wolves are most unsightly.

 

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 goldilocks

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS

 Goldie trespassed in the Three Bear’s house,
Thinking “I’ll be quiet as a meadow mouse.”
She sampled all the porridge she found,
Then had a quiet snoop around.
Three chairs, three beds, she sampled all;
Soon fell asleep, curled up so small.
The bears returned, the baby bawled,
At all the damage they were appalled.
Goldie awoke, she screamed in pain,
And never saw those bears again.

 

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 Rumplestiltskin

RUMPELSTILTSKIN

Her father boasted to the king,
His daughter was so gifted
That she could spin the meanest straw
To make gold unassisted.

But this she clearly could not do,
Until a dwarf agreed
To help her if she’d give her word
Her baby to him to concede.

This she woefully had to do
To keep her father’s word.
So sad she was and out of sorts,
As the love within her stirred.

The only way to recover her child,
The dwarf then to her said,
Was to find out what his true name was,
Thus stem the tears she shed.

She travelled far, she travelled wide,
Seeking his name to find,
But every name she tried was wrong,
No one could ease her mind.

Until she heard a voice one night
Within a woodland glade.
“Rumplestiltskin, that I am”,
It sang while music played.

Indeed it was her little man,
Rejoicing in his glory,
To think that he had won his prize
And thus would end this story.

But he’d been rumbled in his pride;
Of justice – no miscarriage,
For she had got her baby back,
And the King’s rich hand in marriage.

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Illustrations: By WHB . . . Pen & Ink – January 2018   ©

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The (Very) Outer Hebrides

From time to time I intend to reproduce, usually with minor changes, a few of my earliest WordPress posts from ‘Roland’s Ragbag’.  These will be ones which were, and are still, of particular import to me and which most of my current followers and readers will not have seen or read before.  For those of you who may have come across the earlier versions, I do hope you will consider them to be worthy of a second airing.


 

ON . . .  Flannan Isle, St.Kilda, and ‘Coffin Road’

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The Outer Hebrides – showing Flannan Isle

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In 2012, on a Round Britain cruise, I passed close to the Flannan Isles and to St.Kilda.  This was, for me, meant to be the highlight of the cruise, as I had in the past read much about both these remote places – the outermost islands of the Outer Hebrides – St.Kilda in fact being the furthest west point of the whole British Isles.  Unfortunately, the weather, as is often the case in those parts, was not good.  The sea was rough and the islands shrouded in mist.  I did manage a few photographs of St.Kilda, covered in mist and seabirds, but that was it. . .

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St.Kilda in the mist … Photos by WHB – 2012

Flannan Isle is in fact a small archipelago of seven rocks, sometimes known as ‘The Seven Hunters’.  It has held great interest for me ever since, way back in my school days, just about my first introduction to narrative poetry was through the re-telling, by Wilfred Wilson Gibson, of the story of the three missing lighthouse men in his poem  ‘Flannan Isle’ (q.v.).  The story, for those not familiar with it, has echoes of the story of the missing crew of the ‘Mary Celeste’.

The Flannan Isle lighthouse was constructed in 1899 by David and Charles Stevenson.  Just a year later, when investigating why the light was not lit, 3 men landed on the isle but could find no trace of the 3 lighthouse keepers.  Although the table in the lighthouse was set with food, and although the rules of procedure insisted that one man should always remain in the lighthouse, no trace of any of them was ever found.   The full story is recounted in Gibson’s poem.  I have always remembered in particular the emotive last verse:

‘We seem’d to stand for an endless while,  Though still no word was said,
Three men alive on Flannan Isle,  Who thought on three men dead.’

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The whole story was brought vividly back to me when I recently read Peter May‘s 2016 book, ‘Coffin Road’.   Gripping from the very beginning, It is a top-quality read – the best book I have read for a long long time.

‘A man is washed up on a deserted beach on the Hebridean Isle of Harris, barely alive. He has no idea who he is or how he got there. The only clue to his identity is a map tracing a track called the Coffin Road.’

Flannan Isle itself, and the story of the three lighthouse men, are central to the story. There is a very strong plot and, as well as being a first-class thriller, the story has a cogent environmental message concerning the dangers of science being exploited for profit unrestrained by ethics.  As in others of his books, Peter May brings the Hebridean landscape to vivid life in all its rugged beauty, as well as realistically conveying the wildness of both the Hebridean sea and its weather.

I also learnt a lot about Bees from ‘The Coffin Road’ !!!   I thoroughly recommend it.

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Coleridge At Watchet

[  Photograph Gallery # 69  ]

Watchet-Map

The harbour town of Watchet lies on the North Somerset coast of England, between the Quantock Hills and the Brendon Hills on the Eastern edge of Exmoor.

The harbour at Watchet is said to have been the inspiration for Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s famous epic poem ‘The Ancient Mariner’.  Whilst on a walk with his friends, William and Dorothy Wordsworth, over the Quantock Hills in 1797 from his home in nearby Nether Stowey, they came upon Watchet.  It has been said that looking down at the town from St. Decuman’s Church in the town gave him the idea for his poem.

‘The ship was cheered, the harbour cleared, 
Merrily did we drop 
Below the kirk, below the hill, 
Below the lighthouse top.’
In 2002 the Watchet Market House Museum Society decided to commemorate the town’s important link with Coleridge by commissioning a statue. A seven-foot high effigy of the mariner was designed and created by sculptor Alan B. Herriot, of Penicuik, Scotland, cast by Powderhall Fine Art Foundries in Edinburgh and unveiled by Dr. Katherine Wyndham in 2003.  This statue now stands overlooking the marina on Watchet Esplanade.
There is now a designated ‘Coleridge Way’ walk of 51 miles through the landscape that inspired Coleridge to produce some of his best known work.  It takes an east to west path from Nether Stowey to Lynmouth through the lovely Somerset countryside of the Quantock Hills, the Brendon Hills and Exmoor – or obviously, in the reverse direction.

My photographs below were taken on a visit to the area in and around Watchet in 2007.

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Watchet 01

Watchet – Harbour & Marina

 

Watchet 02

Looking north-east from Watchet harbour across the Bristol Channel to the island of Steep Holm

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Coleridge’s ‘Ancient Mariner’. created by the Scottish sculptor, Alan Herriot

Watchet 04

‘God save thee, ancient Mariner! 
From the fiends, that plague thee thus! — 
Why look’st thou so?’ — With my cross-bow 
I shot the ALBATROSS..

Watchet 05

(Coleridge) … this renowned poet resided for some years at the nearby village of Nether Stowey.  In 1797, while on a walking tour, Coleridge visited Watchet.  On seeing the harbour he was inspired to compose one of the best known poems in English literature, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’

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While the black-backed gulls keep an eye on events

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Coastal rock striations near Watchet 

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Dead, or just over-wintering?

SCROOGE … A Meditation  

Scrooge-BahHumbug

‘Scrooge’ – WHB: Black ink, 2017

SCROOGE … A Meditation

 

What the dickens does it mean?
Well let me paint for you the scene;

For love came down at Christmas time
To this I pen a gentle rhyme.

I know that Scrooge was lean and mean,
Counted every single bean.

But visitations from the past
Meant that he would learn at last

That stinginess was no way cool,
No joy at all in being cruel.

Life is not there to be destroyed, 
It is given to be enjoyed.

At Christmas we should not be stressed,
But let us remember the dispossessed,

And hope for all, what Scrooge discovers,
To open our hearts to the pain of others.

 

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NOTE:   The expression “What the dickens?” does not have any connection with Charles Dickens.  It pre-dates him by at least two centuries and was in fact used by Shakespeare in his “Merry Wives of Windsor”, ( Act III, Scene II ) where ‘dickens’ is used as a euphemism for ‘the devil’ . . . “I cannot tell what the dickens his name is”. 
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‘Let Sleeping Princesses Lie’

sleeping beaty the kiss

A headline from a recent edition of the ‘Daily Mail’ read:

‘Mother demands her son’s school take ‘Sleeping Beauty’ off the curriculum because the princess doesn’t give consent to be kissed and woken up by a prince.’

Let sleeping Princesses lie . . .  The story must be told . . .


 

One of our favourite fairy tales
Has fallen under a cloud;
For kissing a soundly sleeping beauty
They say should not be allowed.

Apparently a passing prince
Came upon a lass,
Innocently fast asleep,
And then he made a pass.

Engulfed by a kindly urge
This gallant lad lent down.
He gently kissed her soft pink lips
To take away her frown.

Startled then she leapt right up
And slapped his beaming face.
The Prince soon knew he’d done her wrong
And now was in disgrace.

“How dare you touch me without consent?”
She yelled at him in ire,
“My dignity, my personal space,
Penance they require.

You’d better find a lawyer soon,
That’s what I advise.
Your nasty criminal behaviour
I thoroughly despise.”

And thus the fairy tale did end,
So let this be a lesson.
Even a naive act of love
Can now be thought aggression.

 

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PLEASE NOTE:   Although it is not usually my habit to post over the weekend, do look out for a new blog from my pen each day of the coming Christmas period. 

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Gunpowder Plot – Senryu #2

men

Gunpowder Plot – Senryu #2

 

November The Fifth

The story unfolds again;

Will it ever die?

 

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Senryū is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku in construction: three lines with 17 syllables (usually 5 – 7-  5).   Senryū tend to be about human foibles while haiku tend to be about nature, and senryū are often more cynical or darkly humorous than haiku.

Note:  Adapted from Wikipedia

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