A very quiet day. And a lovely one here in Consett.
The only activity is Lesley driving me over to Chester-le-Street to a Nationwide Building Society cashpoint so I can pay a credit card bill.
For a few days now I have been looking at some videos by Peter Morgan Jones of Tredegar. I discovered them quite by accident and his face seemed familiar. I suddenly realised that he was almost certainly my old art teacher from 40 years ago. But inevitably the years had changed him. Could it be PJ? I did some more research and discovered that yes, it was! He has spent a lot of time making videos, some for the BBC. His final one was finished only last year. But, alas, he passed away before seeing it broadcast. He was showered with tributes and was regarded with almost universal respect and affection. Something I can identify with as one of my favourite teachers. Here is his lovely documentary film about Nye Bevan’s Tredegar.
I think about death and the possibility of reincarnation. Despite being a humanist this is not as bizarre as it sounds. If we forget the idea of a soul and accept that it is a figment of the way our brain works then a sense of self could be understood as a particular arrangement of atoms and molecules. There are now any number of theories which rely on the concept of infinity in terms of the number of universes. If I’m wrong, well there is nothing lost!!!
I turn my mind to the electrics of my little railway – almost as mind bending!
It is peaceful and I am not in pain. Overnight, however, I start to dwell on the operation which lies ahead and a serious worry starts to gnaw at my mind. It takes a force of will to wrench my thoughts back to the present. So….it is peaceful and I am not in pain!
A trip to Tanfield Railway. I love this preserved railway with its collection of industrial
locomotives and its outside field full of unusual and occasionally rare rusty locos and rolling stock awaiting restoration. I stroll around the engine shed alone with my thoughts. There is a strange kind of reverence in the shed in which visitors speak in hushed tones. It is more akin to a religious space than a long standing place of work. But I soak up the atmosphere in which Rembrandt would have been completely at home. We go for a ride on the train with its little wooden carriages. On the way back the little loco (an 0-4-0 Tank built in 1948 by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn) works hard against the upslope. There is a lovely feeling of little pushes as the two cylinders fight and win their battle against
I am bored by stately homes. Give me an ex industrial site any day where you can wander round and touch the venerable survivors of a bygone era. I guess I am just a pleb at heart – I wish Andrew Mitchell had accused me of being one. I would have thanked him!!!
I stop off to buy a new miniature drill and a fresh set of pliers!
With joy, I discover a new BBC podcast from ‘Elis James Feast of Football’. This needs a little explanation. I am not really a football fan – rugby, yes, but again as a lad from South Wales………..etc etc. OK. Elis James is a standup comedian and actor from West Wales and his podcast also includes ex Welsh football internationals Danny Gabbidon and Iwan Roberts. I discovered it when, at Christmas, I suffered from the infection which I now know was a forewarning of cancer. I get comfort from this podcast in the familiar accents along with the interaction between the three participants which is supportive and illuminating. I have discovered all sorts of interesting things about how football actually works. The sort of things which the overpaid, egotistical and largely incompetent television pundits ignore. Put simply, Elis James podcasts helps me understand the attraction of football which no-one else has bothered to explain. While never replacing rugby in my affections I have a lot to thank the podcast for in sheer comfort value in this difficult period of my life.