I like visiting the Albert,
I like the way it commands a crossroads,
Welcoming all cardinal points of the compass,
Just like a traditional inn should,
I particularly like it when the football comes home.
I like visiting the Albert in springtime,
When vases of flowers greet you in the bar,
With vernal fragrance and equinoctial promise,
Stretching into blossoming infinity,
But that’s not as good as when the football comes home.
I like summer drinking in the Albert,
With a pint of Alton’s Pride,
It’s like an infusion of Thomas Hardy,
With every novel you’ve ever read
Returning like a Native,
Or like the football.
I like autumn drinking in the Albert,
When mists and mellow fruitlessness
Entwine themselves around the eaves,
Just like a gothic Woman in White,
Or Jordan Pickford.
I like winter drinking in the Albert,
Sledging down the snow-scaped common,
Then in the bar for mulled ale and wine,
Just like we’re in A Christmas Carol,
But not with the ghost of Sam Allardyce.
Two years ago an Alien landed in Nailsworth, unnoticed by the Stroud Valleys folk. Since its arrival after fifty years temporarily rooted on Planet Essex, this strange being has immersed itself in the Gloucestershire soil, attempting to make sense of its move here “for a change, and it ticked more boxes than anywhere else”.
See how a creature far from home has struggled with unfamiliar territory; intensively exploring its new homeland on foot, or by bicycle, guided by its ‘Ordnance Survey Explorer 168’, Gloucestershire ‘Pevsners’, and Wikipedia.
Join a naive explorer for a circular walk, as this being shares with you its Outsider Views on the Stroud Valleys heritage, as it attempts to blend-in with its new people.read more
Words of the day were obvs bound to be
Metaphor, Palimpsest, Serendipitous,
Inscription and Superscription,
On such a walk as this;
A train ride to Stonehouse
And then a walk through what once was Standish Hospital,
Now a Dystopian Derek Jarmanesque seeming film set,
A Victorian mansion built as a temporary home,
Becomes a Great War hospital,
Becomes a sanatorium,
Becomes an NHS hospital,
But now a building site in limbo,
Fencing all around the mouldering mansion,
The once-were stables,
The towering red brick chimney at the boiler house,
The Japanese knotweed infested lakesides,
The art deco sanatorium: its clean air and sunlight,
Long gone the way of all flesh;
We continued past streams and brooks and railway lines and bridges,
Past ridge and furrow and Revenants,
Past round barrows etched on the skyline,
Past churches and graveyards and lost villages
(And Standish, where the body of Edward the Second rested en route
From Berkeley Castle to Gloucester Cathedral),
To see the line of motorway and the cathedral of the Anthropocene:
It has been said that football is a religion. It is true that for many, attending a match can seem like a religious experience. The blind faith that one day your team will reach the promised land (of the Premiership), the sense of belonging, the passion and the weird attire all replicate that of many religions. Even the killing of the opposition supporters has been known to happen, but thankfully not to Inquisition style proportions.
I suggest that the links to religion don’t stop there.
I have been reading a book recently by the psychologist Jordan Peterson and in his opening chapter he makes the comment “Chaos and order are two of the most fundamental elements of lived experience”. We order our lives in a way that can cope with the chaos that life throws at us, whether it is health issues, financial problems or the elements of nature that are doing their best to make life difficult.read more
Alas! George Bowling and George Orwell’s Coming Up For Air: the spot where I scored my best ever goal is now a housing estate.
The Best Goal I Ever Scored
It must have been 1965,
We were having a lunchtime kick-about.
‘It’s Good News Week’ by Hedgehoppers’ Anonymous
Was playing on someone’s transistor
Just behind the goal nearest the school,
Phil Vine was puffing out on the wing,
And crossed hopefully towards the edge of the box,
Where I had strayed, and where I stood,
Predicting the precise path of the ball.
STROUD RADICAL HISTORY
ALTERNATIVE HERITAGE WALK
Friday, 20th April, 2018
A circular walk from Stonehouse Station to Standish, Haresfield, Ring Hill, Randwick Woods and back to Stonehouse. Ancient Barrows, mediaeval churches, Romano-British farmsteads, a moated stronghold, a hillfort and old woodland. Throughout the walk the construction of the controversial Javelin Park incinerator will dominate the view to the west. We will explore alternative historical narratives via walking through this complex landscape.read more
The Inprint shop and building in the High Street in Stroud,
Resembles nothing so much as something out of Dickens,
An Old Curiosity Shop,
Defying straight lines of logic:
A seeming hexagonal structure,
With Wemmick-like turrets at the top;
The shop doorway on the corner at an angle,
With a fading palimpsest gable end advertisement
For something delicious and ‘home made’,
And a mysterious door numbered 31a,
That might – or might not- take us up flights of stairs,
Past so many Great Expectations,
And so to Mr. Wemmick’s castle up on high.
But far better than such an ascension,
Let us examine the shop windows:
Displays that follow the high ideals of public broadcasting,
Spectacles of books and comics and posters and maps,
All artfully and painstakingly arranged,
A tableau of colour and half-remembered past time,
A street mis en scene that arrests the eye,
And one which informs, educates and entertains,
A business that improves the mind of the passer-by,
As well as tempting the bibliophile;