Posted in January 2016

Trusting the Post

This is from yesterday’s I newspaper: 110 years ago, a huge diamond was found at the Premier 2 mine near Pretoria. It weighed over 600g, the largest ever found and named after the mine’s owner Thomas Cullinan. The Transvaal government bought it for £150,000 and voted to present it to Edward VII. To get it … Continue reading

Rough Music in Silson

There are a lot of vague descriptions of rough music, plus the degraded form described by Hardy in the Mayor of Casterbridge, but here is an example of it, with explanation, another gem from ‘Old Oak’. It was still a village custom when I was a boy to mark any flagrant breach of the moral … Continue reading

A Murder Ballad

Old Oak has some great stories in it, and it is easy to imagine the appeal of ghost stories and murder ballads told round fires in mid winter: “Sir Walter Scott once declared that nothing was more dramatically effective than an old murder ballad. With anyone like all to recite it, I can well believe … Continue reading

A Book Review on National Radio!

A Book Review on National Radio!

I sent a copy of my ’13 Fascinating Walks in Central Bristol’ to Mark Radcliffe & Stuart Maconi as they will be in Bristol for the 6 music festival in a few weeks. They were delighted by the walks, guide, calling it “Truly a lovely thing” and threatened to do at least one of the … Continue reading

Lessons From Bowie

Lessons From Bowie

Last Monday I turned on 6 music to hear Lauren Laverne discussing Bowie in the past tense and I immediately realised the man had died. From the moment of the announcement, the station’s schedules were cleared to commemorate the man and to invite listeners to share their shock and grief. Later that night, Marc Riley, … Continue reading

Uncle Simon

This is again from ‘Old Oak’. It is rare to find descriptions of old farmhouses as they fell into disuse as farming changed and labourers increasingly lived in their own cottages – or at least those that were not driven out. HIs sister Sall and he lived in a large, lone, thatched cottage that stood … Continue reading

A Very Late Romanov

This is an article from 1 December, so apologies for its lateness, from the i newspaper: “The funeral of Leonid Gurevich Kulikovsky, the reclusive great-grandson of Russian Tsar Alexander III, was held in Darwin yesterday. The heir spent his final years living in obscurity alone with his dog, in an Outback trailer park. Mr Kulikovsky … Continue reading

An Unusual Methodist

Here’s another snippet from ‘Old Oak’. Methodists were widely disliked by Anglicans for stealing their flock, and for their ‘enthusiams’ The first part makes me wonder how many hauntings are the result of such a prank. Stories of headless horsemen were spread by smugglers in the West Country to keep people indoors at night when … Continue reading

Old Kellly

Here’s another piece from “Old Oak”: “A remarkable man in his day and generation was Old Kelly. He was a champion backswardsman and a great amateur pugilist; he caught foxes alive and grew lovely carnations; he was often the lord of the Whitsun Ale, and he was a man of considerable substance. The old and … Continue reading

Passing Bell

The method of announcing a local person’s death has long intrigued me as it was once central to communities, whereby people would hear of a death and pray for the person to be helped to heaven. I am not clear when it died out, but it is mentioned a few times in Ronald Blythe’s Akenfield, … Continue reading