Tuesday, February 28, 2012


A lot of my good thinking takes place during my morning walk. At this time of year, in the middle of the week, it's just me and Jasper the Spaniel. In reality you cannot really count him because, once we are walking along the Longdendale Trail, he is usually off on his own, sniffing things and peeing on them. Oh, don't get me wrong, he does like to know that I am around and he will stop every now and then to check that I am still with him, but he enjoys the chance to walk out on his own. We went along the trail this morning, not terrible far really, about 3 miles. 

The Longdendale Trail is one of those ex-railway lines that you find all over the place. Most have a footpath, some have a cycle path and ours also has a Bridleway. However, in late February, occasional rain, occasional splashes of blue sky, today, we just about had it to ourselves. Nice. I walk along behind Jasper, muffled up in my coat and hat, plugged into my iPod. Off in a world of my own. So where does the Serendipity come in, well here, actually.

When I'm walking I usually listen to a talking book. I tend to have the same book on my iPod as I have on my Kindle. So while I am out walking I am also reading the book that I read on the Kindle in the house. However, the book that I have been reading has rather lost me at the moment. I've been reading a Stella Rimmington Spy thriller just lately, "Dead Line" and I regret to say that just over half way through the book it has lost me. I just cannot be bothered to read on. So here is the first bit of serendipity. The thing that I love about the Kindle is that you can carry a pile of books in one hand, that in real life you would not be able to balance. I think that I have more than 60 books on my Kindle at the moment. If I fall out of love with one of them I can just delete it and start reading another. So "Dead Line" has just lost out in the race for life that is storyland. The Serendipity comes from Amazon's Daily Deal. Every day on Amazon they sell a Kindle Book for 99p for one day only. Yesterday I checked out the website, expecting that the daily book would not catch my attention, but it did. So maybe the thought of starting to read a new book helped me to decide to stop reading the book that was no longer satisfying my needs.

Serendipity means "The faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident." So I had stopped reading the old book, The new book does not have an unabridged version available on Audible to download, so I guess that this one I will be reading the old fashioned way. That means that I didn't have a book to listen to this morning. That lead to me listening to music, for once, on my iPod. I adore my iPod, it is so simple and the quality of sound is so good. I love the way that you can tell it to play songs at random. Up comes a little message "3796 music tracks, selecting ....." and away you go.

I've been a fan of folk music since I went to College in the late 60's. I did History and Geography at A level, but didn't enjoy the Geography very much. When I applied for a place at Didsbury College in Manchester, back in 1968, I looked through the list of courses and decided to give a course called "American Studies" a chance. The first time I got to choose an optional unit, I picked something called "Protest Music - The Music of the People" as an option. And, unlike the usual route into Folk Music in England at that time, Sandy Denny, Fotheringay and the Strawbs - I came to Folk Music through the American connection. So I first fell in love with Phil Ochs, Arlo Guthrie, Tom Paxton and the divine Bob Dylan.

So there I was, today, walking all alone, except for my spaniel companion, listening to a serendipitous collection of songs that have come to define the times I have lived through. Mixed in with a leavening of a much older tradition of English Folk. So I had some Kate Rusby, some June Tabor, something melodious from Clannad - it might even have been the lilting and disturbing "Harry's Game" - I don't remember. Paxton's "There goes the Mountain" segued gently into " Virginia by Bob Fox and then, out of nowhere, serendipitously as you might say, the tempo picked up and we are into Joan Baez version of Bob Dylan's "Lily, Rosemary and the Jack of Hearts." Eight and a half minutes of sublime poetry. You know I just had to stop. There was a seat there, overlooking the Reservoir, and I just sat for a quarter of a hour and listened to that song, then played it again because I enjoyed it so much.

The photograph comes from after that 15 minutes of bliss. Jasper was quite happy wandering around sniffing. I was quite happy sitting on the bench in the background, overlooking the Reservoir that you cannot really see. Even Joan didn't complain about the fact that I made her sing it twice. Bob Dylan's words are sheer poetry. That quarter of an hour has made my day.

And here we go with the last bit of serendipity. I have a sort of life on Twitter, I go on it about twice a day and use it as a means of keeping up with what various people are doing. It is funny how things can link up. My user name on Twitter is kwhall and today I found that I had received a message from some gentleman who lives in Chicago, Illinois. He had posted a picture of himself cuddling up to kwhall. Needless to say it was not! This kwhall is a 60 year old retired, bald, bloke with a Spaniel fetish, whereas the person being cuddled by whoever he was was definitely of a more female persuasion. I looked up @kwhall on Twitter, as you can do, and think it was probably kwhall45 that he was cuddling, since she also lives in Chicago which suggests that she is a closer neighbour than me. Anyway, I cannot see him wanting to cuddle me, if he tried he would also get a very muddy spaniel jumping all over him as well.

Hmmmm. Missed the point there. Didn't mean to go on as long as that about a random stranger. On Twitter, I have also come up against one Stephen Waters. He is retired like me, and a freemason like me, but unlike me he is also an ex Anglican Priest. He put up a tweet which mentioned his Blog, called "Get On With It" and so I looked it up. Really glad that I did for he is a very readable writer and I enjoyed very much his writing. Reminiscences, I guess, but very worth reading. I shall recommend him to you. You can find his blog at http://stephen-waters.blogspot.com  Let's face it, if you've read this drivel up to here, read Stephen's Blog as well, you might enjoy it.

See you soon.

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