31 July 2021

July has been... about reading books


Part of the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice at Postman's Park, London (click image to enlarge)

I entered the month reading Matthew Harffy’s Wolf of Wessex. Set in 838AD, it tells of widower Dunstan, an ageing ex hearth companion of note, living a lone existence in a forest while attempting to put the deeds and misdeeds of his youth in order before he is reunited with his wife. 

Coming across a mutilated body starts him on a trail well-worn by Westerns, Mysteries, and a whole host of adventure fiction, in print and on screen, but this did not detract at all. The joy in reading Harffy’s tales is learning aspects of the Anglo-Saxon way of life, the beliefs and superstitions rising from it, how and what to forage in the forest for food, down to the system of enforcing law codes when most of the population was illiterate. 

It was a joy to read, and I shall doubtless return to it.



A news article prompted me to check out Laura Dodsworth’s A State Of Fear – How The Government Weaponised Fear During The Covid-19 Pandemic. Unfortunately, its title says it all. Despite it ticking a lot of lurking suspicions, reading it was an eye-opener, as was the history of such “persuasions” all the way back to Freud. 

Remember the early video of China’s people keeling over in the street and medics in hazmat suits running into shot to help? Yeah, right. Information “leaked” to the press, such then being dismissed by Government, only for the “leaked” info to be implemented weeks later? It’s called seeding – well, of course it is, every novelist uses the technique in writing fiction; so how naive was I for not recognising it being practised under my nose? Even the orchestration of the “clap for the NHS”, which I always thought emotionally manipulative, er… was. And Mainstream Media? It just moved from Project Fear Brexit to Project Fear Covid, and remains fixed there. 

The book is, of course, being condemned as conspiracy theory. I’d suggest detractors explain the content of 25 pages of referenced footnotes.  

And so to the image at the top of this post. 

We’ve been in London, for the first time staying within the precincts of ‘The City’, which more or less encompasses the area of Roman Londinium and much of what became the medieval capital. Unexpectedly still under lockdown, most of London was either shut or entry by timed-ticket only. Plan B meant we did a lot of exploratory walking, often taking in the smaller, hidden, gardens which are London’s best-kept secret.

Postman’s Park is one of these, and within its oasis of greenery and flowerbeds we came upon the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, opened in 1900. George F Watts, a renowned artist of the period, had proposed a memorial to ordinary men, women and children who had given their lives endeavouring to save the life of another. Only 54 of the originally envisaged 120 ceramic plaques were raised. They make stark, yet valiant, reading.

John Price, some hundred years after the official opening, merely sought a quiet spot for his lunch, but was so awed by these snapshots of history that it caused an abrupt change in career. He moved into academia and ended up as a professor of Modern History, specifically, it seems, to enable him to research and write Heroes of Postman’s Park – Heroic Self-Sacrifice in Victorian London which details the lives and times of those whose scant information adorns the memorial. I’ve only dipped in to the book so far, but can tell it is going to make riveting reading.

Enjoy your August.

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