Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Feel Like Going Home

This song by Charlie Rich really ought to be disgustingly self-pitying, but the defeat is so thorough that the singer, you feel, is not asking for pity at all, simply stating the bald facts of a failed life. It is desperately sad, and Knopfler's yearning guitar perfectly complements the lyric. Beautifully sung, too.

Lord I feel like going home
I tried and I failed and I'm tired and weary
Everything I ever done was wrong
And I feel like going home

Lord I tried to see it through
But it was too much for me
And now I'm coming home to you
And I feel like going home

Cloudy skies are rolling in
And not a friend around to help me
From all the places I have been
And I feel like going home

Lord I feel like going home
I tried and I failed and I'm tired and weary
Everything I ever done was wrong
And I feel like going home

Thursday, 23 June 2011



Lovely Shirley and Mrs Queenie Jones
Are neighbours forever, until, sans pity,
Age and weather desecrate their stones
Bestowing final anonymity.

And here is Elsie Flynn who fell asleep
And Harry Baker, who vanished like a dream.
At night the brambles a little further creep
About their stones, and no-one screams.

As for George Edwin Fish and the Tinks
They too will succumb at last, return to dust
And then when the sun’s too large to sink
All will be gone: life and death and love and lust.


The blackberries sweeten about Baron Lister.
They are swallowing his sarcophagus
And blackening my oesophagus.
There are bones among the roots perhaps
Roots among the bones.

Soon after rain, the sun spangling the brambles
The cemetery’s empty. The light calms the silence
Before a siren wails.

Wynn Wheldon

Tuesday, 21 June 2011


Clarence Clemons, The Boss's clarinet player, responsible for that solo in 'Jungleland' which evokes all the sweaty melancholy and yearning of lives that know only the city. Who the hell gets that job now?

Patrick Leigh Fermor, whose writing has the ability to render what is vicarious experience for the reader damn nearly actual. Where is Volume 3?

Glenn Gould plays Bach Partita 2

Utterly transfixing

Monday, 20 June 2011


3 pm and all over Soho
Chefs are sitting on steps, leaning at doors
Smoking or chatting into mobile phones
Slipped from flapped tunics or checkered trousers.
The dull morning has given way to warmth
And pretty girls and boys bloom outside bars
As the restaurants wind down / wind up for night
And a whole new crowd from the further city:
Fathers, mothers, sons and daughters, tourists
Native and foreign, noses in the air,
Wondering at that herb and this spice,
Chowing down, then taking in a show.
They’re succeeded by the demi-monde,
The leanest consumers in town,
All salads, cigarettes and metrosex.
And soon it is 3 am in Soho.
Chefs are sitting on steps, leaning at doors,
Smoking; dawn’s not far off, and breakfast.

Wynn Wheldon

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Regina Spektor - "Fidelity"

I'm proud to say that it has only taken me five years to catch up with this. Unfortunately embedding is disabled, so i shall simply have to trust you to go here. Please skip the Pokemon ad as soon as you possibly can.

Ah-ha! I have found a live version that I'm allowed to embed.

Thursday, 16 June 2011


This is not about motor racing, not about sport, not about celebrity; it is a film about mortality and what it means to be alive. It is beautifully paced and edited, and never lingers; it eschews the sensational (we see Senna's final crash only once), the morbid and the maudlin. It is an engaging portrait of an exceptional life. Outstanding.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


…beck’s novel Cannery…
Ms Ozick in her dandelion-yellow Piper Cherokee
The Baskerville Q in all its glory
And so at (of course) Baker Street (though this is not a story):
‘ere mate, which way’s London?
Summons the guard, who’s from Sunderland
By way of Tehran.

Disparities spice each hour in the city
Data hangs like fruit on vines of electricity
Hear the bells tolling for memory while
Sodcasting* girls on the back seat smile.

I purchase an old fashioned lolly pop
And simply keep strolling.

Wynn Wheldon

*Verb - The act of playing music through the speaker on a mobile phone, usually on public transport. Commonly practiced by young people wearing polyester, branded sportswear with dubious musical taste. (source: the Urban Dictionary)

Written very quickly. Perhaps even hastily. All comments of whatever stripe most welcome.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

The Walks so far

2005 - Glastonbury Tor
2006 - Dulverton (south Exmoor)
2007 - Golden Cap
2008 - Porlock 1
2009 - Porlock 2
2010 - Great Bedwyn
2011 - Salcombe (South Hams)

Monday, 13 June 2011

The Walk 2011 - Part 2

Old boys on a boat

Val, proprietor of the B&B in Slapton, the name of which escapes me, was terrific. She was cheerful, straightforward, and when asked about Bruce Forsyth (the paper announced his K) didn't seem to have much time for baubles (she may well be a secret republican) , and had even less for mountain cyclists on the coastal path. "Devils", she called them. The rooms were especially comfortable in the sense that they were not too B&B starchy - rather like Val herself in fact. A very good night.

Morning brought anticipation of seeing TPJM at the end of Slapton sands, by The Tank. He would walk with us to Salcombe. It was indeed a real pleasure to see him. Strange how the familiarity of school friendships endures. Of course he's a terribly easy chap anyway...

RR had been concerned about Group Dynamics. Was there going to be an HR problem? We had never been so large a party before. We have shrunk to six, and we had thought eight was the optimum number, but the extras we took on this year - all west country bods - made nothing but a pleasurable ripple. This walk was perhaps the best yet.

JAH and I took an interesting diversion not far from the coast, and found ourselves in deeply jungular surroundings. Keep following the stream we said to each other, as though we'd been shot down behind enemy lines. We both had sticks, without which passage would have been impossible. It struck me later that night that of all the party JAH was the one I would have chosen to be in that mess with: optimistic, temperate, amused, aware of the world immediately around him, never too earnest, but not childish either. It took me back to days following him down streams turning over rocks to find crayfish. We'd made a mistake, but like a Leonardo blot, something rather special had been made out of it.

JAH and I reached the Pigs Nose in East Prawle just in time to miss lunch, but sandwiches did fine and what was to follow was the most spectacular walk we have had so far, along the coast to Salcombe. Breathtakingly lovely. The light was sharp, defining everything with utter clarity. This was early summer, before the haze sets in; there was a breeze; the silver sea sparkled. JAH wanted to know why it was ever necessary to go to Turkey or anywhere else for that matter. TPJM was of similar mind. SAF was reminded of the Costa Brava. RPH and MDF swam again in a tiny cove we had thought only accessible by water until we spotted a vertiginous little path that health and safety haven't put their ruinous little signposts and barriers into yet.

We walked into Salcombe up and over and around, through the bracken, into the sun, and took the little ferry across to that town and made our way to the third rate hotel with first rate views. Company made it first-rate anyway, so our complaints were amused rather than angry. I finished my evening in the legendary Room 312, sitting out on the balcony until the rains came.

We are lucky people to have such friends, and I think we also deserve each other. Thanks, as ever and always, to RR for laying on a hint of heaven for us all.

Please add comments, chaps.

Asked at Baker Street

Asked on the platform at Baker Street station, in a broad cockney accent: "'ere, mate, which way's London?"

Coastal Destinations

A little caesura in my account of The Walk: I note that National Geographic magazine reckons the Pembrokeshire Coast Path to be the second best "coastal destination" on earth. The South Hams don't get a look in! A disgrace, in my view... full list here.

Cymru am byth!

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Walk 2011 - Part 1

Old boys throwing stones at a stick, Slapton Sands, June 2011

So this year we were a round dozen, swollen gently and delightfully to thirteen on Saturday for the stupendous coast path walk to Salcombe.

We met at Tuckenhay at The Waterman's Arms on the Dart. The first shock was to find that GOB and TC had matching waterproofs. Still, there was nothing to be done now, for the weather was closing in and we had to get going. There was a flapping of goretex and headware appeared. The Alpha males decided we couldn't possibly actually walk to Slapton, or at least not all the way, and so we drove to Blackawton, parked the cars, walked for about a quarter of a mile and got lost. Luckily we found a hedge to crawl through and a lane to slide into from it. What japes. (I think it is worth recording here that as we disembarked from our taxis at Blackawton - 12 aging boys, some more corpulent than perhaps they ought to be, self very much included - a woman on her bicycle asked "are you terrorists?". Actually it turned out that she hadn't asked that at all. She had asked RPH if he was a Rotarian. Few are the people less like a Rotarian than RPH. He is closer to being a terrorist - although of course a very sensitive one).

The most direct walking route, according to Google maps, ought to have taken us an hour and a half. Four and a half miles. We managed to turn that into 7.8 miles (and I don't know how long), according to GOB's GPS. But RR said GPS machines were "bollocks", and who are we to argue. We walked through a rather well-done nature reserve out to Slapton Sands, which naturally are not sands at all. Well, not what i would call sands. I'd call what we sat on as very small pebbles, a sort of ur-sand. MDF performed his first inimitable act of nudity, brave soul, and dipped into the icy brine.

The evening was of course dedicated to MAH, 50 that very day. Everyone made a speech saying how much they loved the dear man (among other qualities his Big Packet and his Sense of Priority were highlighted). Then MDF and AK argued about the merits or otherwise of circumcised and uncircumcised penises, too loudly for JAH's liking. (MDF and AK like to have at least one big row per walk - tradition is important.)

All this took place at the utterly exemplary Tower Inn, managed by the fragrant and beautiful Thea, with whom everyone fell a little in love.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Blogger with Knights

Your ever-so 'umble blogger with the Whispering Knights, a short hop from the Rollright Stones. Snazzy photo by C G P Wheldon. Actually the knights are "portal dolmen" and date from around 4000 BC (a good deal older then than the Rollright Stones). CGP and I went on the spur of the moment, from our cottage, racing to get there before the sun set. No-one else around. CGP full of theories. Quite lovely.

Friday, 3 June 2011


Warwickshire. Sitting on the terrace of a rented cottage, looking out over England in the form of a perfect little valley, the church tower dominant. Reading Julius Caesar. "Let me have men about me that are fat". Boiled egg and slice of wholemeal toast for breakfast. Murray-Nadal this afternoon. Son and I shall take a long walk afterwards, along the bridleway that runs along the ridge towards the wood, then down through the trees to the meadow below and back along by the church and the pub. Ah, me. NB Yesterday while walking an adder slithered across the road in front of us. Or maybe it was an asp...