Tuesday, March 27, 2007


I despair of this interweb thing ever being useful. I have found yet another site designed specifically with the intention of stopping me from doing worthwhile and earth-shatteringly important things. Significantly, this one doesn't contain body parts, toys, cricket or numbers. It is here:


The idea behind it is to produce a pictorial map of the British Isles with a photograph or two for every Ordnance Survey grid square. Every square is 1km x 1km. That's a lot of photographs, both to take and research. The ones already extant on the site can throw up the odd surprise. Look! - To the left of the telegraph pole here is my old bedroom window. If you look really closely, standing in the middle of the road is my Dad, caught by a contemporary historian 6 weeks ago, walking out of the woods opposite. And here is where I had my lunch last Sunday. Some with a little local knowledge may like to note the location of the venue. Good, eh? Hours of fun for all the family.

On other things

I am now sort of a published author! And moreover, it's nothing whatsoever to do with this, or any other, blog. Yes - a near as damnit proper book with funny bits, a sprinkling of oaths, references to villainy and sundry other rude bits in. Unfortunately, the publishers have managed to get themselves in a slight chutney over listing the thing on their website, so no details until they get it right. Do watch this space. Suffice to say, even though it's not all my own work in that I didn't have to make the story up, the client was well pleased with it and that makes it all worthwhile.

Thursday, March 22, 2007


I am just reading the rather disconcerting breaking news from Jamaica. Sadly it appears that Bob Woolmer died from strangulation. In other words, murdered. For what? There's a rather obvious pun to be made, but it really isn't, is it. Can somebody please tell me what is going wrong when a cricketer is murdered? This is all so very sad.

For pity's sake, can't we just all get along?

Sunday, March 18, 2007


I have been suffering unduly of late from unhealthy vapours. "Get out and have a good blow," advises my mother, "it'll clear your head." Along with 'water as hot as you can drink' this is the universal panacea of mothers everywhere. I tried Little Hurst, the wood opposite. It was exceedingly windy and as such, the wood opposite was a rather like being in Primeval but without the CGI or the pneumatic female leads. The overhead noises usually heralded the arrival of a falling branch rather than a flying lizard.

Instead I went for a slow drive around and as is usual when I am in these parts, I ended up at one of my most favourite of places, Dungeness. If you read The Guradian, live in London or laugh at people who don't know who Edie Sedgwick was then you probably know absolutely everything about Dungeness already because of this place. Get out of here then, you're not wanted. Anyone who has only visited Dungeness since Prospect Cottage became well known will have actually missed something essential. In fact they will have missed the very reason Jarman chose it as his retreat in his final years but has unwittingly helped to destroy. Not by encouraging visitors to see his empathetic garden but by starting the process off that turned it into something that can be "bought". The old railway carriages and largely serviceless shacks and holiday cottages that formed the community until a decade or so ago are fast disappearing. They are being converted into proper houses with six-figure price tags. Fulham on Sea. You wait, there'll be a deli and an expensive fishmonger soon. Shame they can't do anything about the salt and the shingle kicks spoiling the paintwork on your 4 x 4s but that's the Dungeness Experience for you. I've nothing against Jarman at all. Nobody knew or cared who he was when he arrived and he appreciated the place for the correct reasons. Nobody asked for the place to be "made".

Those of us who have been visiting for the last 40 years or so have rather different memories. No boardwalks back then, you lugged your fishing tackle over a quarter of a mile of shingle after chaining your bike up to a post. Then you wondered if it would still be there when you got back to it because it wasn't unknown for the raggle-taggle gypsy-os from the other side of the power station to cruise along looking for some easy pickings. It was even rumoured they'd creep up on you and nick your tackle while you weren't looking. Never happened to me but I did once chase a fox away from my rucksack with my banana in its slavering maw. Then the fog would come down and the foghorn would start up. I don't expect that happens anymore though. Sensitive city ears have probably whinged about that because they can't hear their Lily Allen over the noise.

The essence of Dungeness is storms. It didn't exist until medieval times. It was formed through storms and howling gales; vicious tides moving millions of tons of shingle in hours. It's the largest expanse of shingle in the world. Go to the top of the old lighthouse and look at the lines of the previous shorelines, evidence of what nature can do on its own without our help. Today was no different. A bitterly cold northerly froze my face and the sea was leaden. The tide was out but on the turn, ready to bite more out of the beach and spit it out up the bay. You don't swim there. It's raw and fierce, unearthly, beautiful and remote. Yet less than 20 minutes from this room.



Bob Woolmer


He was an elegant and effective all-rounder who played one of the best innings ever to save a test match; he managed to mire himself in controversy more than once although gained huge respect amongst the players he coached along the way. More than anything, he played for Kent where he was immensely popular and would readily sign autographs. That meant a lot to a kid and you don't forget things like that. Big loss to cricket.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


I have looked in a mirror and yes, I do still exist. I may well write something soon.

Anyway, RIP to that choicest piece of Cockernee Rhyming Slang, Gareth Hunt. He was Mike Gambit you know.