Sunday, August 27, 2006


The British August Bank Holiday is something like the fourth most depressing time of year in Britain, because it signifies the end of summer and the inevitable slump towards Christmas, darkness and wanting to kill yourself.

Still, chin up! There's nothing I like better to do on a Bank Holiday than get out and about, or "oot and aboot" as my millions of Canadian readers would say.

Yes, I'm likely to bung on a pair of tweed plus fours, a hacking jacket, some long woolly socks, a pair of muddy hobnail boots and deerstalker hat and march out of the house slapping my thigh, pipe in hand and tobacco pouch in top left breast pocket. Then in my deep, gruff voice I will bellow "I SAY! WHAT A SPIFFING DAY! WHAT A TOPHOLE WHEEZE!"

Where better than Kent, the garden of England, for a super day out? There are untold treasures on my doorstep. Here are some of them:

BURSTED WOODS near Barnehurst Station. The last time I went for a ramble around here, I saw a rat the size of a pig being chased by a swooping kestrel. It epitomised the terrifying brutality of nature. Marvel also at the detrius strewn about - syringes, old petrol canisters, condoms, porn mags, the occasional corpse left there after an altercation between gangsters. What is more healthy than a walk in the countryside?

There is an organisation called The Friends Of Bursted Woods.

GREENWICH FOOT TUNNEL. Imagine the smell of a chemical toilet in a coach that has been used by a victorious but drunken rugby team returning from a tournament. That's the smell emanating from Greenwich Foot Tunnel, that is. Not only that, but you emerge on the Isle Of Dogs. Walk around all those weird brightly coloured flats that no-one seems to live in! Enjoy the sort of "beach" and how you can see Greenwich from across the water!

CRAYFORD. Crayford has a river, and a sculpture which owes a lot to Edvard Munch's The Scream.

Why not relax and have a stale piece of cake and mug of tea at Sainsbury's cafe?

KENT'S BEAUTIFUL COASTLINE. There are windswept resorts throughout Kent with names like Sandgitt, Westgitt, Northgitt, Eastgitt and Margitt. You can walk along the prom or the miles of unspoilt shingle beach freezing your bollocks off and not see another soul, apart perhaps from a pensioner who will reminisce about the days you could see Max Miller, Max Wall, Dickie Henderson and a young Bruce Forsyth on the same bill at the Hippodrome for a thruppeny bit. The lying old nutbar.

Happy holidays. Just don't stay in and let life pass you by.

Going out then?

May I suggest that instead of the Gitts, you go and park up next to Erith Fire Station and walk down Foxhouse Rd/Lane (I think) into the woods behind Trinity School. You will then be above where I used to live but the possibility of seeing my still resident children doing things they didn't oughta there isn't the highlight. Instead, marvel at the jaw dropping beauty of the panorama that assails your eyes. This is a visual spectacle unparalleled in the Western hemisphere. From Dagenham in the West, with the dreaming spires of Romford in its hinterland; via the Belvedere B & Q Warehouse, the Erith Oilseed Rape refinery and across the dusty peaks of the Purfleet Alps landfill (viewed at night the burning methane vents rival any firework display at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen) to the four massive towers supporting my former place of employ, the QE2 Bridge in the far East, this is a vista that could only have been visited upon us by a higher power. You'll never want to go anywhere ever again. Take a picnic.
By the way, yesterday we went to the Crewe Carnival fireworks in the park opposite us and they were very good.They had live music on at a different site in the park before the fireworks but I didn't go although I could hear it well enough. The star turn was Andy Whyment and his band playing a rock covers set. He sounded very good although you could hear it were Kirk singing.
Blimey Richard, you are truly the Judith Chalmers of blogging. I notice that you fail to use the expression "shimmering vistas" though, for which you have to lose a couple of marks.

I actually like the view from the QE2 Bridge, especially at night. I can't help it, I'm a romantic fool.

Hearing Kirk singing is probably preferable to seeing Kirk singing, granted. Well, if someone put a gun to your head ...
So. When is Kent due to fall into the sea, then?
Ok, Betty you've convinced me - I'm going to top myself before Bank holiday dawns.
Then I won't have to face:
a) Christmas
b) Becoming a 'lying old nutbar'....when I saw Jimi at the Isle of White for four and six ..mutter, mutter...
Betty, yes I am. And blow me, I do it all from memory. I'm eating raw carrots in a determined attempt to turn orange (I met her in 1982 and she was the first orange person I ever saw apart from on my Grandma's telly). When I left the crossing they let me go up one of the bridge towers, the NE one. That really is a view, especially looking down over the edge.
In these days of cynicism it is so uplifting to find someone who takes a pride in their local treasures.
I did go out today, I had an egg sandwich in Morrisons. Then I came back and watched the finale to the carnival from our kitchen window. This was an aerobatic display which ha ha, I want to see reported in the paper on Wednesday. I shouldn't have been able to see it out the window, you see, because that looks west; the park is south of us. They could probably have heard him, and maybe seen him if they could have looked straight into the sun. Oops.
If you walk past those flats on the Isle of Dogs...and climb over a broken stile..you can go and visit Mudchute Farm...blood-spattered cages of ferrets, a terrified-looking turkey and a cage full of *exotic* birds, which look suspiciously like sparrows (perhaps this is where the entire London population of sparrows has gone?) but my favourite is the pigs. I feed them bananas. They get *really* excited if you give them a croissant. It's like their eyes are saying, 'We normally get fed burgers'.
Holyhoses - I should imagine Norfolk will fall into the sea first. Bexleyheath is on high ground compared to everywhere around it, so I imagine it will become Bexleyheath Island, and we will have to get to Thurrock and Lakeside shopping centres by ferry.

Richard - after all those years of faithful service, all you get to do is go up on one of the towers? Not exactly a golden handshake, is it?

Vicus - I always like to think that this corner of the internet is a little ray of sunshine :-) I want people to go away from here with a warm glow and a big grin on their face :-)

Richard - are you sure you didn't meet up with Mark and drop acid somewhere? I'm beginning to get worried now.
Molly! - I'm surprised that the animals haven't been "liberated" by animal rights' activists by the sound of it. Banana eating pigs ... I'm now even more scared of the Isle Of Dogs than I am of the Isle Of Sheppey.
Er ... Kaz ... I overlooked your comments in amongst all the comments by Richard, gulp. I'm going to wander around grim coastal towns telling anyone who'll listen than I saw Jimi playing live on the Isle Of Dogs ten years after he had supposedly "died", and there was only me in the audience. Move over Rover, and let Betty take over!
This is only my fifth comment on this thread, be fair. You excite my memory too much Betty. So, when my memory finally fails I can come here because it's all written down. If I remember to of course. Geoff, I think Betty's my muse.

On Sheppey, on the road to Sheerness, there used to a house, perhaps a pub, with a big cage on top of the garage, in which was a large lion, big mane and all. You didn't see it as you approached from the bridge. "Fuck me, I've just seen a lion" I said to the ex as we drove past and I looked in the mirror.

I've never met Mark or dropped acid and yes, moot point about leaving the crossing. Closer to the truth than you think.
Richard - 's fair enough. Now all I need is a muse who lives in my home town in the midlands and can remind me of bilberry picking expeditions on Hednesford Hills, or the bus ride around Gentleshaw, or ...

Was the lion real, or stuffed? I know there's a place on Sheppey with quite a good cliff top view and some oddly bohemian houses scattered about and chickens wandering everywhere. Perhaps something happens to your brain when you cross over to Sheppey because of the chemicals in the air.
As it was outside I'm assuming it was real. If memory serves, we turned round and drove back past it just to make sure because we weren't planning on going back that way.

Doesn't S.Dix come from your neck of the woods?
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