Archive for the ‘wandering’ Category

[As I wrote this piece, I found it harder than I anticipated, and actually was pleased when I stopped writing to take a break and realised I’d said enough; I didn’t want to write any more. How odd.]


As I write this, I’m sitting outside a coffee shop in Charing Cross Road; I’ve been a’wandering in central london this afternoon after taking a PCR test and

Huh, I wonder whether, years from now, I’ll read the foregoing and faintly recall when that was a thing, or whether it’ll be ‘ah yeah, 2021… that was when we realised it was here to stay…

Anyways, yeah, I’m sitting outside a Nero, with a nice hot coffee by my side, processing – that’s a horrible word but it does the trick – the memories of this afternoon.

Or rather, more accurately, the memories from long ago that I’ve recalled this afternoon.

Because, you see, pretty much wherever I’ve wandered this afternoon, I’ve been before. And not in the ‘Oh, I remember this, I’ve walked this before‘ way. Neither the ‘Oh yeah, I walked past here last week‘ way.

No, more like the ‘huh, I spent a chunk of my life walking down this road every day for years‘ way, and ‘oh blimey, I remember getting drunk in this pub with [comics person] and [comics person]‘ way, and the ‘oh, right… yeah, I remember this because this happened, when I was in the process of cracking up…‘ way.

So, not entirely wholly pleasant memories… but not entirely wholly unpleasant either. And if that’s not a decent summing up of any year, or any period of time longer than a few days, I don’t know what is.

But here are three places I walked past or into which provoked some memories.

Denmark Street
For years, long before it moved into a huge place, Denmark Street was the home of Forbidden Planet comic shop.

Jasper Carrott used to have a line about why Brits feel a sense of deja vu when visiting New York for the first time: because they’ve seen it on telly so many times, it feels familiar in a lot of ways. Well, when I first moved to london, and walked into the place, it was the same feeling. Because I’d seen the comics shop depicted in several comics stories over the years.

But what was different, I recall, from the depictions was the people. Inter stories, they’d never easily been in the background, or there as comic relief. The main stories usually involved one hero or another being in a fight in central london and crashing through the window of Forbidden Planet. Whereas when I first visited the shop, what struck me was how nice the people were who were running it; they positively welcomed everyone who walked into the place, were warm and friendly and… well, nice.

(As a general rule of thumb, by the way, that’s what I’ve found with most comics shops and most of the people who work in them. It’s not a hard rule; sometimes you come across an idiot, or someone who views customers as a necessary evil, but on the whole, yeah, I’ve encountered nice people in comics shops.)

But as I walked through Denmark Street and up towards Shaftesbury Avenue and the bigger, Forbidden Planet ‘mega shop’, I felt a tiny bit of sadness for the shop that once was but is no more.

Percy Street
When I was at work, my local coffee shop was on the corner of Percy Street and Charlotte Street; the coffee shop is no longer there, and nor is anything else other than an empty building. But while I was hit by any number of memories while I was walking past it today, one very pleasant indeed hit me.

It was early 2010, and I’d wandered over for a coffee and a break from work, which was – I recall – rough at the time. I just wanted to turn my mind off for a bit and read a book for an hour before returning. I got my coffee, sat down outside, and after a few minutes, I noticed someone had sat at the next table. I glanced over and managed to retain my composure as I realised, sitting next to me, was Tom Baker.

Years earlier, while working as an entertainment accountant, my then boss had tutored me on how to deal with such circumstances. First off, when introducing yourself call them by Mr/Ms [surname], apologise for bothering them, and say that you know that they’re very busy (that gives them the chance to agree, and very politely tell you to go away after you’ve said more) then tell them how much you enjoyed their work, and thank them. And then shut up.

All of which I did… at which point, Mr Baker waved off any concern about time or whatever he was doing and we had a gloriously wonderful chat about acting and Doctor Who and humour and radio comedy, and his other work I’d enjoyed over the years.

After about three-quarters of an hour, I glanced at my watch and started to make my excuses. “Oh, do you have to go?” He asked. Now, I was financial director of the company, so no I didn’t. Not quite then. So I said so… and about 45 minutes after that I strolled into my office, ready for the rest of the day.

A lovely, totally unexpected, meeting that was genuinely unreservedly lovely.

Newman Street
Yeah, a biggie. I walked past where I used to work, where I was working when my brain and mind went a bit… gaga (to use the technical, medical, expression.)

Of course, according to the one psych I actually liked and got on with, it had been going gaga for a long time before the 12 years I spent working there. The building may still be there – it is – but the company moved elsewhere some years ago, and indeed, to my surprise, I found that they shuttered the channel in the UK last year.

I’ve walked past the place a few times over the years; I’ve no idea what triggered so many memories today – both good and bad – but for the first time in years, I recalled some stuff as clear as day. Both good stuff and bad. I was honestly shaken a bit by the strength of the memories, and how vivid they were.

I had some recollections that made me smile, genuinely. Some silly stuff, some serious stuff, people I worked with.

And the end of my tenure at the company, which wasn’t let us say under the most ideal of circumstances. And I remembered it in clear, vivid, detail. Every bit of it. And what immediately followed.

Yeah, ok, that was weird and very very not pleasant at all.

And that’s where I’m drawing a line today.

 

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Sixty-one days. Sixty-one posts. One 2022 approaching.


I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of quid every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to the new year. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

“Bios”

No, not BIOS, that’s firmware used to perform hardware initialization during the a computer’s booting up.

Bios, as in social media platforms, the few words you have to describe yourself.

They’re a weird summary of everything you want people to know about you… in a couple of hundred characters. And while, yes, you can use one link, maybe two, to give more information, each link takes up a chunk of those very same available characters and spaces.

Oh, and if you want to explain what each link is, oops, there go another couple of dozen characters.

So, you’re (or at least I am) stuck with several one or two word descriptions, separated by, erm, separators.


I mean, here’s the one I’m currently using for Twitter. It’s my main online presence, since I’m not on Facebook, and tend to use Instagram merely for weather shots.

Wanderer and Wonderer. Seems a fairly good, and nicely succinct, summary of who I am, or at least who I want to be. Or, perhaps more accurately, who I want people to think of me as.

I’ve never enjoyed physical exercise, and the fucked up foot¹ makes running a non-starter even if my admittedly jaundiced view of it were otherwise. But I have enjoyed walking, especially in cities.

You might well ask “wanderer and wonderer? Well, budgie, where do you wander about what do you wonder?

You might well ask that indeed.

Well? Go on, then. ASK ME THAT.

It’s your own time you’re wasting, you know.

Oh, you asked!

You know, I’m rarely asked those questions.

So let’s answer them.

Wandering

As I mentioned the other day, I’ve lived in Abbey Road now for a little over four years, about ¼ mile from Abbey Road recording studios. I’m sorry, that should be ‘…from the world famous Abbey Road recording studios.’ (I think I’m legally obliged to refer to them as such.)

And I like living here.

For the four years before I moved in, I was in Ham, between Richmond and Kingston, and if you wanted to have somewhere to wander from, with nice places in which to wander in every direction…

…you have to go some way to find anywhere better than Ham. Within about 20-30 minutes’ walk, you have Richmond in one direction, Kingston in the opposite direction. You have Richmond Park, truly one of the glories of the area, no matter what season, though I have a fondness for Richmond Park in the springtime. A short (really short) ferry ride away, even if you ignore Ham House and grounds, you have Twickenham and St Mary’s.

You have a lot of… green… surrounding you. Reminded me in some ways of growing up in Luton, and bicycling to ‘the country’. Luton in those days – in the 1970s – was less… urban than it’s become, and it’d take a mere half hour bike ride to find yourself surrounded by farmland and green and… well, more green to be honest.

Abbey Road is a bit different to all of that, to be honest, to be fair.

I’m not quite sure whether it would qualify as urban or suburban. (I never quite know which box to tick when I’m asked on surveys, in much the same way as a Jewish fella, I’ve been bemused when offered ‘white British’ or ‘white otther’ or just ‘other’ when offered the options.)

Either way, Abbey Road very definitely isn’t ‘green’. Oh, there’s Regents Park about 25 minutes’ walk away, and plenty of little gardens and mini-parks you can wander about in. There’s Lisson Grove, with the canals, much as there’s Little Venice a bit further away. There is green… but you do have to look for it.

I live in London, almost in the heart of London. Half an hour’s walk and I’m on Euston Road, by Baker Street. A short walk further, and I’m on Oxford Street. You can’t really describe living a short distance from Oxford Street as anything less than ‘the heart of the city’ to be honest.

And yet, despite my enjoyment of Richmond Park and its… greenness, it’s where I am now that really speaks to me.

I’ve mentioned before on previous blog runs how much I like living in London and walking around it. It’s a city where I run into memories around every corner and encounter ghosts – both mine and London’s – at every crossing.

Not all of the memories, or ghosts, are pleasant ones. But they’re what makes me… me. And I wouldn’t change them. Good or bad, they’re true.

And while I try to vary the precise route (to alleviate boredom, I’m not trying to avoid spies following me or anything… or am I? No, I’m not.) I’ve half a dozen routes I like to wander along, aimlessly, taking up time, while I wonder about… no, more about that in a moment.

(And of course, it’d be remiss not to mention that during the absurdity and craziness we’ve all just experienced, having a walk was one of the few reasons you were allowed to leave your home. It’s dry nice, I’ll admit, to once again be able to walk… somewhere, then stop and grab a coffee before heading back, rather than just walking somewhere, turning around and having nothing to do other than walk back to the flat.)

But yes. If I’m after a shortish walk, then there’s Euston Road in one direction, Kilburn in another, West Hampstead in a third, and always St John’s Wood area, Lord’s Cricket Grou\

nd and Lisson Grove in yet another.

If I want a longer walk, and the foot will allow it, then a walk up to Brondesbury or West End Green, to Golders Green, or even Oxford Circus.

So, yes, that’s where I wander… while wondering.

Wondering

Yes, well. What do I ponder while walking?

Well, it depends. And yes, I know that’s a cheat of an answer, but it does have the virtue of being the truth.

I’m a news junkie, have been for decades, but one of the unexpected pleasures of doing what I refer to on Twitter as the #DailyConstitutional is that I disconnect entirely from the news. Whatever else I listen to, whatever else I ponder, it ain’t the news. Of all the decisions I made last year, that’s turned out to be one of the smarter ones.

Sometimes, I’m not idly wondering, of course. Sometimes I’m angry. Sometimes I’m wandering to walk off the anger, the upset, the sheer bloody fury, about something or someone. (And sometimes the subjects of my upset might even deserve my ire. Not always, but quite often.)

It’s not uncommon, far more common than I’ll admit to on Twitter, for me to walk… harder… than intended. On such occasions, yeah, I’ll pay for it later. While the foot puts up with a lot, on occasion it lets me know it’s had enough.

Walking while angry is not a good thing while it’s happening, nor while I’m recovering from it. But it does, usually, exhaust my volcanically bad temper. So, I guess, on those occasions… it’s worth it?

But… they’re the rarity. Usually, when I’m a’wondering, it’s about a story idea, or a problem I have to solve, or even a friend’s problem they’ve shared and asked my help in arriving at a possible solution.

I can’t wander, nor wonder, in silence, however.

So, often, what I’m wondering about is… related to whatever I’m listening to on a podcast or radio show.

I’m wondering about The History Of Rome, and how a city became a republic which became an empire, and how so many things went wrong for so many people, while they went very right for others… before going wrong. As in more modern days, rare is the power that ends at the time, and in the manner of, the wielder’s choosing.

Or I’m wondering about how the murderer could have done it in a whodunnit, and the craft shown of how the detective worked it out.

Or I’m wondering, indeed pondering, the various Connections that James Burke demonstrates: how a shortage of ivory led to me enjoying movies in the cinema, how a war led to the divorce rate increasing, and how Mozart led to the helicopter.

I’m wondering why more people of the younger generations aren’t aware just how good a raconteur Peter Ustinov was.

And I wonder about myself.

Only the last tends to irritate me and exasperate me in equal measure. Still, at least for once I share something with my friends. That’s something I don’t have to wonder about.

See you tomorrow, with… something else.

 

 

Fifty-seven days. Fifty-seven posts. One fifty-seventh birthday.


I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to ko-fi.com, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on https://ko-fi.com/budgiehypoth

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.


¹that’s the technical, medical term, you understand.