Tuesday, 22 May 2007


Went for a ride on a narrow boat along the canal at Bugsworth in the High Peaks on Sunday afternoon. I love the sea, rivers and boats but canals are a very different experience. We chugged along very slowly to Whaley Bridge then moored up for a pint and chugged back gently for a late Sunday Roast in The Navigation Inn at Bugsworth. The Semi-Trad Narrow Boat owner is refitting the inside so isn't living on it yet but hopes to within the next six months. I can see why people opt out of Real Life, buy a canal boat and a mooring and float about the Waterways. Very tempting Way Of Life.

I wonder how long it would take to take the canal route from Bugsworth to London - but would it matter? Has to be better than driving to London in a car.

Saturday night was spent in Bugsworth and a great meal with friends and then a live Gig at the Buggy Club with a terrific Blues Band and a mesmerising performance by the harmonica player. A spooky figure in the half light, dressed in black completed by his haunting musicianship. I like the Blues because I know all the words and the toons.
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Monday, 21 May 2007

Should We Have Done Something?

There must be many passengers who travelled on the Manchester to Plymouth Virgin Voyager train today who feel as upset as I am right now. Especially the ones who sat in Carriage C. It was the swearing first wasn't it? A heavy male North West English brogue. But it wasn't the brogue was it. When did you first notice the baby crying and it being told to 'Shut the fuck up'. Then an older child started to cry. It wasn't just crying. The young child was gasping for breath between long drawn out sobs. The tiny baby sounded as if it was being hurt. It was scared.

The male moron, who seemed the be the father, was drunk. I heard the tins popping. I heard speech begin to slur. I heard his language get worse as he threatened to stick things up these babies arses to shut them up. One of the two females was the mother of these two unfortunate children, the other woman was her sister. They both giggled inanely at the drunken father's 'jokes'. I imagined if they didn't laugh at his jokes he would hit them. Maybe not. They sounded as bad as him. The baby began crying again and I heard one of the women say ' It's because you pinched him'.

I was sitting three aisles in front of them. I couldn't see them - but I could hear it all. I needed to see what they were like. I went to the toilet and had to pass them. Moronic male was slumped, slurring and still drinking in his seat. The sisters were immature girls. They were surroundeed by empty lager tins, plastic carrier bags, a mess of food, used nappies - pure chaos. He was a very big bloke, shaven headed and pissed. The faces of the individual travellers sitting near them said it all. Everyone looked in shock. Four young women travelling together left their seats near this family and moved into four empty seats in front of me.

I heard one of them say 'He's shaking the baby now'.

I got off the train at Taunton. This family were going on holiday to Devon.

I made no eye contact with the rest of the passengers. We were all so very British. Keeping quiet, not drawing attention to ourselves, not making the first move to do something, like interfere, when all the while two very young babies were at risk from a family who were drunk on a train in the middle of the day.

What could we have done?

Thursday, 17 May 2007


I'm beginning to enjoy these short and intensive study periods as opposed to my usual way of study - a bit every day. Yesterday and today I've dedicated to getting stuck into Virginia Woolf and Orlando and begun to make organised notes and feel so much better at getting something down on 'paper' and gaining some understanding.

It was one month ago on my train journey to the High Peaks in Derbyshire that I read Orlando for the first time - and I loathed it. I'm making the same journey this Saturday and how my opinion has changed about the book and about Virginia Woolf. I love them both. I would love a Girlie Evening with Virginia Woolf, Germaine Greer Joan Rivers and me. Goodness knows what the conversation would be like and if we'd all get along together but it could be Much Fun.

The cut off date for the TMA04 submission is in a month's time, so giving myself a break from Woolf and going to read Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca this Saturday. I've read it several times before but not since I've been studying literature so I expect to read it with a different outlook - I wonder what I'll find?

So I'm putting my books away now until Tuesday.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Half Way Through

Third assignment for 20th Century Literature returned and marked and passed. I gained much satisfaction from studying Poetry of the 1930s and I had promised my Step-Dad that I'd give him my collection of Robin Skelton's Poetry of the Thirties, but now I am keeping it and intend to do some Poetry Reading Out Loud.

I am surprised that I'm still in there with this OU course because my usually ordered life is chaotic at the moment and I'm grabbing isolated days to do intensive study and then having to leave it alone for days and days at a time. I prefer a couple of hours study at a time on a regular basis with space to contemplate. My mind can only absorb so much and I have to go back to the beginning every time rather than pick things up where I left off.

The fourth assignment is a four thousand word essay on Virginia Woolf's Orlando and her Modernism, Feminism and other -isms. I swotted all day yesterday, didn't make one single note and won't be free to get back to it for a week. There have been many essays with limits of two thousand words and I've wished there'd been more, but for this one I wish we had less.

The weekend was good. But since national newspapers have been renaming my town Notting Hill On Sea its impossible to get a table for a meal in either of our two Trendy Eating Places as they are full of Trendy People From Cities wearing Boden and Oasis. So Saturday night four of us trawled around for food and ended up eating in one of our eight Ethnic Eating Places instead.

We did two lunchtime bike rides into the countryside and even had problems parking our bikes in pub car parks because the monster 4x4s and horses took up all the spaces. This is great for our local economy but not so good if you live here and patronise these places all year round only to be firmly turned away - and not politely either. On Saturday evening we asked to sit in the courtyard at the first Trendy Eating Place and order at once (this was at seven o'clock)

'No! We have sixty bookings'.

'But nobody's here yet. We can order now before the bookings start coming in'.

'No. We're not taking any more bookings'.

There was no sign of the owner. This was a young Front Of House person we'd never seen before. I wonder if the owner would have turned us away and cash in his till?

You'll want us and our pennies on a miserable Tuesday evening in February. A wet Monday lunchtime in November.