Trouble in Mind

Berkhamsted School Prefects, 1922.

A hatchet faced photo of a dozen Berkhamsted School Prefects in the Summer of 1922 shows my grandfather, Dennis Goffey, on the far right, standing. Charles Greene, headmaster & father of Graham, is in the centre, and Claude Cockburn, the writer, and friend of Graham, seated (appropriately, he was once denounced as the ‘eighty-fourth most dangerous Red in the world’ by Senator McCarthy) on the far left.

The photo may or may not explain my interest in Berkhamsted’s most famous literary figure – I mean after Ed Reardon.

The following article can be read – complete … more ...

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The Devil You Know

“Grímr’s alt-country aesthetic is so low-fi, you need pit-props to listen to it.”

The East Grim Advertiser [*****]

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Recorded at NKTN Studio, London, 16 September 2018.

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#antisocial media

I had a quick look at Wikipedia to see how old Facebook was. I wanted to boast that I’d had a web presence before them and would have one after. And well, it’s a close call, but I probably still can. We both went live on February 4th 2004. Given that the UK is several hours ahead, I think I win by a nose.

We don’t have much else in common. Facebook reckons to have 2 billion active users – or it did before the Cambridge Analytica debacle. I lost half my readership last year when my mum died.

You … more ...

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Vanishing Men

The rifle range on Berkhamsted Common: A journey with maps.

 

For a couple of years now I have helped my father, Brian Shepherd, lead a walk for the Graham Greene Festival. The walk tracks the Berkhamsted author over the common of his childhood and teases out references from Greene’s autobiographical writing and his fiction especially his later novel, The Human Factor (1978), which is partly set in Berkhamsted.

At one point in the walk we climb on to an earth mound and, after reading the appropriate GG reference, tell the walkers they are standing on an old rifle … more ...

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Camden’s Rubbish

Yesterday (3 /5/17), thinking it was Tuesday, I ran away to Enfield Lock and walked with the forest rarely out of eye shot, to Epping town. I had that pleasurable buzz of playing hooky all morning – until I realized it was in fact Wednesday and I should have been walking anyway. But it was a good wheeze whilst it lasted. Free from the constraint of thinking I had to generate words for my shepherd & dog, I found little vignettes of nature’s delights dropping on my head like plum-coloured bird lime.

monkham's_hall_lodge

I heard cuckoos and not just one but … more ...

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A Sentimental Journey

A Sentimental Journey 9 April 2017

I’m not going back to the forest without a paper map and an old fashioned compass. I’d put a route on my phone to the Thomases’ isolated house in the heart of Epping Forest – the poet’s last address in England before he was killed in France a hundred years ago. I had intended to just reverse it when I finished and retrace my steps to the station. I found the place alright. Two houses together, surrounded by forest, the one furthest away from the road being the poet’s. I peered into the garden. … more ...

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Thriller in Manila

Thriller in Manila: Did the outcome of one of the most famous battles in American naval history turn on an envelope hidden in the folds of a naturalist’s freshly laundered shirt?

William Doherty has been much on my mind. I’ve been revisiting my Tring Museum research to try and fit Charles Hartert’s story finally into my book, a baggy tome about my great uncle’s war held together by chalk and wishful thinking as much as anything else. I was fascinated by the stories of the people who called my home “home” in that strange place: just beyond living memory … more ...

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Local War News

Berkhamsted Gazette ; Sat Nov 24 1917 ; Local War News

Further information has now been received bearing upon the accident which resulted in the death of 2nd Lieutenant J.W.D. Needham, R.F.C., reported in last week’s “Gazette.” (27.3.2017) The following letter from his commanding officer explains the sad circumstances:-

Dear Mr. Needham,-

It is with very great sympathy and regret that I have to write you about the death of your dear son, Joseph, which occurred at about 11 p.m. last night (12/11/17).
Your son was engaged on an offensive patrol over the German lines, and apparently lost trace of … more ...

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Spring from the Bunker

Oddly enough I had switched off the Today program on Wednesday morning (22 March). I only ever listen to five minutes whilst I’m making porridge so it has to be pretty bad for me to hit the off button early. I objected to the casual Moslem-bating tone of someone taking the piss out of the idea of virgins in heaven. I wondered what Christians do up there all day long. I couldn’t quite imagine them listening to the Today program. Shopping, probably, eating perhaps. I will never know, sadly.

My mid week walks have been shoehorned around other things than … more ...

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Garden of Love

1 March. The weather in Trumpland, according to the New York Times, had turned to “sunshine & civility” during his address to the two houses of Congress. Here it didn’t get above 6 degrees in the afternoon. Cloudy and irritable: at least, I was. In fact, following rivers through the north eastern burbs, dressed head to toe in black and grey, I felt I bore the same relation to the earth as a passing cloud.

lee_park_way

When Ponders End flour mill was first built 150 years ago it might produce a thousand tons a year – a week’s output today, … more ...

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