Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Intra-world travel



From Belmont, my Hereford home, to The Blogger’s Retreat, central London, is 145 miles. Lunch is at 12.30 so I rise at 06.40 rather than 09.00. I’m angry I didn’t prepare things and thus avoid disrupting Mrs BB who may or may not be asleep. Picking up keys noiselessly from the table is impossible.

A cold dawn. I snap the 75 bus but, worried the driver might think I’m a time and motion spy, or a copper’s nark, I explain the camera. More shots in Hereford’s deserted centre because of the stillness. Time for a warming Americano at the station buffet where I’m asked if I want milk. Wouldn’t be an Americano.

Low-level winter sun hinders reading The Guardian on the two-carriage diesel out of Hereford in which the loudspeakers pronounce Cymbran with Welsh punctilio. At Newport a moment of uncertainty boarding the London Paddington train (ie, going east) minutes after a Manchester Piccadilly train (ie, going north) has left from the same platform.

A socially disdavantaged man at Didcot Parkway is taking train numbers. In my extreme youth I did that.

The last leg, by bus, is about three miles and I’ve ninety minutes in hand. But it isn’t enough. Students are revolting. I leave the bus in Regent Street, cut through Soho, cross Leicester Square, pass St Martins-in-the-Fields and jog along The Strand. Five minutes late! But then there’s champagne, chicken korma and a world of talk.

ANTHEM
Tune: Onward Christian Soldiers

Linked by broadband magic
Oz to Prague and back
Famous for erratic
Service, curries, craic*

As to conversation
It’s the tops my dears
Nation speaks to nation
Drenched in Asian beers

Bloggers seeking respite
Join in the elite
Exercise your blog-right
Lunch at The Retreat.

*Craic is Irish - a state of happy stimulation

10 comments:

herhimnbryn said...

And all by public transport! Sounds like a grand day out Gromit...

Plutarch said...

I wish I could match the length and viscisitudes of your visit to the Retreat, which was all that you say it was and more. I am sorry too that we didn't get round to singing the anthem in the restaurant because I suppose I intrrupted you too often to allow you to produce the text. Perhaps, though, that was just as well, as my ability to sing in tune is on a par with my spelling, "A pity," says Heidi, "because you have a nice voice."

marja-leena said...

You jog!? I didn't realize how long a journey you have to come to London. What a delight to recognize the Blogger's Retreat and some of the street and place names, and to be able to picture the both of you over your curries!

FigMince said...

I'd have been there, but Qantas had some problems with its Rolls Royce engines, and there's volcanic ash over Indonesia, and I slept in, and I can't follow flight schedules because our state is the only one in Australia not to have daylight saving because the cows get confused about milking times and old ladies' curtains would fade due to that extra hour of sunlight, not to mention the fact that the bank I was intending to hold up in order to meet the cost of the trip was too crowded when I popped in, so it all got too hard.

Besides, nobody invited me.

The Crow said...

What FigMince said - minus the volcano.

I'm sure to get the invite in next week's mail. Our USPS is notorius for misplacing invitations. Happens to me all the time.

Barrett Bonden said...

HHB: That's if you exclude my antiquated feet and legs on which I depended for the final leg.

Plutarch: I wouldn't describe them as vicissitudes; each fragment of that journey is now familiar and has its own characteristics which signal my progress. Best of all is the high-speed rush from Newport to Paddington which counterbalances all the clichéd condemnation of railway journeys in Britain. Yes, I wanted to sing Anthem to you immediately on arrival as evidence of some sort of pawky, literary tendency but I was glad, five minutes later, that conversation extinguished this impulse. What was odd, even irritating, on the journey back was remembrance of all the subjects I had intended to raise but didn't. But then they too were obliterated by subjects I'd never envisaged.

M-L: Don't you think I'm capable? I only jogged along The Strand, knowing if I did I could keep the deficit down to five minutes.

FigMince: The next time, we'll have to meet you halfway. Say the island of Réunion. But I warn you, you'll have to use the verbal equivalent of your elbows to get a hearing. Although civilised, it isn't polite conversation.

The Crow: Unfortunately meeting you halfway (see FigMince) would mean a life-raft in the Atlantic. How about a conference call with video?

The Crow said...

Re: conference call w/video - well, you have my number, but I'll have to learn how to do video calls with my cell phone.

Hattie said...

Sounds like fun, and I hope the food and conversation warmed you up. I have yet to attend a bloggers' get-together but would love to sometime. The only local one doesn't interest me, since the bloggers here are mostly trying to figure out how to make a living from blogging and have no ideas beyond that.
Oh, and is it true that your new regime will soon have gangs of the work-shy cleaning the streets? I look to your country to show the way.
Did anyone in your discussion group have some illuminations on the subject of how we have to repay the capitalists for stealing all our money?

Barrett Bonden said...

Hattie: I have met, socially, four of the people listed on my link list (including Plutarch whom I have known since 1963) and might well have met a fifth had I been free. The fact that all blog is and was ultimately immaterial: blogging is simply a means of checking that there's a shared sense of humour (easily the most important of the social graces in my view) and a hint of intellectual resilience. The latter is essential in that I see myself as over-assertive in conversation, a fault exacerbated by growing deafness, that I have a professional tendency to ask too many questions and that my assumptions about a shared sense of humour can sometimes carry me into the abyss.

Prior to these three meetings (since Plutarch doesn't count in this context) I was fairly careful to ensure they were based on a mutual willingness to meet rather than a misconceived sense of social obligation. Thus I would never have plunged into a group of people whose only known interest was blogging.

I see you use the word "conversation" in your comment but then this recurs as "discussion". There is a subtle but powerful distinction and it is conversation I pursue to the ends of the earth. The latter reeks of the committee meetings I have happily escaped by retiring.

As to our present coalition government, this is Tory in all but name and is pursuing a heaven-sent ideological opportunity carefully masked by whimperings about the country's financial state. In order to avoid taxing the rich and more especially the banks they are reforming (ie, eviscerating) the state institutions and a hang-dog public is more or less going along with them. Apart from the work-shy being reduced in effect to slave labour there will also be single mothers, the unemployed living in areas where work has disappeared, and if they're not careful the people who do menial work in our capital. A series of moves which may well develop into some form of class war as it did on the day I travelled to The Blogger's Retreat and had to carve my way through students demonstrating against the tripling of tuition fees.

Rouchswalwe said...

What did I miss? What did I miss?