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.
The Famous Five and Enoch Powell and Walter Tull
What an extraordinary coincidence,
That on the fiftieth anniversary
Of Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech,
Our railway stations should be awash
With ‘Five Go on Holiday’ GWR posters;
Four children – well adults really – and a dog,
Escaping to a whitewashed cottage,
In a West Country all white fastness,
Where BBC received pronunciation,
And lower class deference
Keep everyone in their place,
Abetted by kindly constables on the beat,
Who will willingly tell you the time.
This anniversary coincides with the 11th Prince Albert Beer & Music Festival, Thursday 3rd – Monday 7th May
Real ale, cider and perry. Food available all weekend.
And here are some slogans from Paris, fifty years ago.
You could declaim one or two,
over a pint or two, if you fancy it.
Soyez réalistes, demandez l’impossible.
Be realistic, demand the impossible.
La barricade ferme la rue mais ouvre la voie.
The barricade blocks the street but opens the way.
Refusons le dialogue avec nos matraqueurs.
Let us not dialogue with our persecutors.
On achète ton bonheur. Vole-le.
They buy your happiness. Steal it.
Sous les pavés, la plage !
Beneath the paving stones – the beach!
L’ennui est contre-révolutionnaire.
Boredom is counterrevolutionary.
*Pas de replâtrage, la structure est pourrie.
No re-plastering, the structure is rotten.read more
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
Do you remember collecting autographs,
When the football specials steamed back west,
When the last faint gleams of terrace street sun
Slipped behind the shadows of the stands,
And the ground went abruptly quiet and numb,
When the crowd made its hot chocolate way home
And the terraces and streets were suddenly empty;
And do you remember the mayhem outside the players’ entrance –
Crowds of kids, scrap books and pens thrust upwards,
Huddled together by the red and white fence,
Hoping for names of star centre forwards,
Like me with my scrapbook with pictures stuck in
With flour paste, from all the Sunday papers,
Of players, arms aloft with toothless grins,
In wintry darkness, mud, mist, rain and vapours.