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Great Faces Of Britain

Three Londoners on the underground
Screen Shot 2023-02-06 at 3.53.38 PM

Here's a photo I took on the London underground on Friday. I love these English faces, especially the woman on the far right. She looks like a great medieval abbess, certainly someone not to be messed with. How I would have loved to have spent the afternoon with her, learning what she knows, asking her what she has seen. But we passed as strangers on a train. Her husband, on the opposite end, I imagined as an 18th century scholar or scrivener, sleeping for the past three hundred years, awaiting the spell that caused him to slumber to be broken. The lady in the middle is just getting on with it: the personification of Stiff Upper Lippishness. I showed this photo to a London-born friend, who sighed, "Nobody is ever happy on the tube." Maybe that's it. But I saw something so very, very British in these admirable faces. I saw character.

Sorry for the light posting. I'm in the rural west country of Ireland early this week, interviewing the writer Paul Kingsnorth for my next book. We're driving around seeing holy wells, ruined monasteries, and pints of Guinness in country pubs. Here we are at St. Colman's tower in County Clare. When the Viking raiders were coming, the medieval monks would scurry up a ladder to a doorway eight stories up, and then pull the ladder up behind them. What a land Ireland is!


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Not sure if I should find this a bit creepy or not…
schedule 8 months ago
Professor Turmegeon awakes. "'Pon my word, when I dozed off Bach was writing St Matthew Passion, a French fellow was writing something called an Encylepedioo, and a rum American chappie was fiddling about with kites during electrical storms. What, may I ask, is the current state of affairs?"

"Oh where can we start? A ginger bastard son of a Princess claims the royals are all racists, Satan's all the rage, and all the young 'uns are chopping off their breasts and penises, y'know, to fit in."

"Well then, wake me in a hundred, or better make it two, will ye luv?"

"Sounds about right, night dear."
schedule 8 months ago