Today’s tramp was terribly tiresome. Having often noticed, on my usual Colliers Wood walk that the Wandle trail allegedly continues on to Wandsworth, I decided to take that path as the first stage of my journey to Waterloo to meet Tony. Crossing Colliers Wood High Street, the signs led me on a meandering route, the first mile or so through uninteresting side streets populated by rather ugly modernish housing. Eventually the road crossed the Wandle and I could pick up the trail. This was a dismal and windswept winding wander on a dull and windy day. I have no idea of the distance travelled, because, with very few exceptions, each milestone gave the same number of miles.
The tangled undergrowth everywhere bore evidence that summer is almost over. Weeds were brown and parched. Buddleia was similarly dry, colourless, and scorched. Blackberries were almost completely ripe. Nettles and brambles were rampant, and convulvulus choked everything in its grasp. An occasional fluttering butterfly and one hardy honeysuckle bravely brightened the withered Wandsworth stretch of the river. Paths were often overgrown. Birds, if there were any, were silent. All that could be heard was the wind whistling through the trees, except when that was drowned out by the roar and clanking of industrial machinery. An Irishman and his dog, making their way painfully along the narrow path, stepped aside, risking being stung, because, the man said: ‘you are quicker than me’. As I passed, and thanked him, I pointed to the ancient Labrador and commented: ‘you are being held up’. ‘Yes, me legs are holding me up’, he replied.
After a while I found myself in Earlsfield, where I encountered the first long straight road. Magdalen Road, SW18, is an uphill stretch bounded for most of its left hand length by Wandsworth Cemetery. Even the cyclist who brushed past me on the pavement was using his lowest gear. Consequently his legs were going like the clappers, but his speed was slow. A notice outside the cemetery seemed to bear a zombie warning. This put me in mind of Stanley Spencer’s memorable painting, ‘Resurrection in Cookham Churchyard’.
An effort had been made to brighten up the heavy, sombre, facade of Wandsworth Prison. It didn’t really work for me. From Wandsworth Common I made my way to Clapham Junction where I boarded a train, reflecting that I could have done so at Earlsfield.
As I sat on a bench in Waterloo Station, eating a pasty whilst waiting for Tony, a pigeon at my feet adopted the posture of a hopeful dog. It had a great deal of trouble swallowing the one piece of crust I did drop. Rather like a dog with a long stick held crossways in its jaws, the bird tried twisting its neck and rapidly opening and shutting its beak. This didn’t work. When It tried using a claw it almost toppled over. In an effort to avoid a young woman’s feet it flew off. I didn’t notice the crumb drop. It may be stuggling still. The young purple-haired man sitting next to me sucked his thumb continually as he studied his mobile phone. And he’d already eaten a Macdonald’s. At long last he found someone to talk to. He explained that he had just had to spend a week in the same bedroom as a girl without being able to touch her. He didn’t mention whether that was 24/7 or just the nights. His listener could not possibly have any idea of how hard that was. Perhaps that’s why he needed a dummy. Once he’d finished speaking, the thumb went back in the mouth, until he was joined by two other equally colourful young gentlemen. Hugs all round ensued. I am now beginning to realise where sitcom scriptwriters source their material.
The Paralympic Games traffic was really hotting up. Brightly clad marshals were adept at identifying those who needed direction, and providing the necessary service. Transport police were in strong but largely discreet evidence. Except for the two, carrying automatice rifles, who were cheerily chatting to customers on the concourse. Mostly elderly ladies who didn’t seem to be terrorists in disguise.
Tony and I, as usual spent an hour or so in the Archduke bar underneath the railway arches.
Our evening meal tonight was an array of salad, after which we had stewed plums, courtesy of Geoff of the Tardis, with Dream Topping. Jackie wishes the world to know that the Dream Topping was bought in error. It should have been custard, which also bears the name Birds, and comes in a red and yellow packet. I finished of the Vina Araya, while Jackie had a Hoegaarden