Cake Not Hate – a walk and some thoughts #london #walking #lookingforthesilverlinings

Father’s day here coincided with a series of events to show the sunny side of humanity, in the spirit and memory of murdered MP Jo Cox and at the end of a dreadful week in the UK and especially London following the appalling fire at Grenville House.

For various reasons I was alone, well Dog and me. The weather was forecast to be seriously hot for hereabouts – 31C they said, which is at least 5 degrees above sensible for anywhere near London.

So we had a choice – stay inside and find shade or sod it and go walking.

Not really a choice when those doleful eyes are on you. We caught a train towards Richmond but the connections sort of died from terminal inertia, or inertia at the terminal, at Clapham Junction so we took an executive decision, bought a sausage roll for lunch and headed out towards a string of commons that lead home over six miles, starting with Wandsworth Common.

It’s a superficially bland strip, with barely an undulation and bordered by a busy road one side and a railway the other.

But it does have trees and, on a day when pausing to smell the coffee/diesel/picnics/jogger’s-sweat seemed sensible given the unrelenting heat, taking in the sweep of the fully laden canopies made sense.

We don’t spend enough time staring at trees, I thought. Nature’s high-rises, home to countless families with the same fragile, easily destroyed-through-ignorance-and-indifference vulnerability as Grenville. I don’t intend by this thought to try and make any sort of glib comparison but we can so easily ignore the unheard, whether it be marginalised families or scraps of the natural world.

Across the railway there are ponds and people enjoying the ducklings and moorhen chicks.

London is out and about, sitting and reading, playing desultory games, or exercising furiously – basically doing whatever London wants to do, without a care.

A simple part of human dignity, that ability to choose to do or not do, to engage or to ignore.

I stopped before crossing Belle Vue Road and watched two comfortably covered men boxing. They sweated and grunted and laughed and sweated some more. Next to them, a few feet away a woman read the newspaper while her friend sought the perfect angle to tan an exposed sliver of shoulder; a small boy squatted in that way children have that our use of chairs has made us forget, all the time contemplating the deep meaning of dust, as he stirred it with a  stick.

Dog stuck out his tongue and then peed, his own contribution to a tableau that was both mundane and beautiful.

I hurried on, wanting to leave the morbidity of my tendency to dwell on the news coming into my ears via a news bulletin. The drear focus on politics just now is wearisome and utterly unrepresentative of the humanity about me which wanted nothing more than to take some simple pleasure, have a break from the bigger picture.

Why does the news have that bit more tonnage just now? Are we not entitled to a silly season, when papers are filled with sand-encrusted urchins besmeared with ice cream as a fountain splashes in the background because there is nothing else to report? If fake news comprised dolphins rescuing puppies I’d sign up.

Next up is Tooting Bec, a sprawly place with more shrubs and as many by now pink poached torsos. I lost myself for a while, sharing with Dog a bottle of water and the aforementioned sausage roll (he had the meat, I had the pastry) and an apple.

I needed a pee and not having Dog’s indifference to social convention I dived into a tangle of sallow and brambles to find some privacy. While there a small piping voice startled me with: ‘What’s that man doing, mummy?’

Fearing at the least a scowl of glacial frostiness or the possibility of arrest I hastened to leave only to be confronted by a mother and son staring at a tall, elderly gentleman standing on his head in some complex yoga pose. I left them to their entertainment, hoping that was what had engaged the young voyeur’s attention.

The final sward is Streatham Common after we passed the Moorish palace that is the Wandsworth Water Works – a piece of Victoriana that never ceases to please me, both for the sheer chutzpah of the company that built it and the fact it is still in use for its designated purpose – a pumping station – today.

Streatham Common is on a  slope allowing for a range of hurtling games for the overheated youth. But it also has a rather good cafe at the top. Dog supped some handily provided water that looked manky but then again manky is his preference while I procured a coffee. As I sat and sipped I noticed two marquees one with this slogan on the side.

I could hardly not explore. The stall was run by a mix of locals, from the pot pourri of cultures that make up South London’s residents. A smiling lady in a hijab told me the cakes were free and wouldn’t take anything for them. They came in a box ‘with a lot of peace’.

I stopped and chatted. Jo Cox’s name was mentioned as the stimulus but also Grenville and the disbelief that something like that could so easily happen hereabouts.

It’s very easy to be both disheartened by events or uplifted by ordinary people’s reactions to them. I think we all know it is futile to expect ‘never again’, to realise while humans make decisions impacting other people without those people being properly engaged such things will blight us. I also think we can take some comfort from the countless small kindnesses that occur each and every day that make city living tolerable.

We walked on, now both sweaty and in need of that shade we had forsworn 2.5 hours earlier. We shared a cake on the way – delicious – and smiled at everyone we passed. Some smiled back; others assumed I was on some sort of day release and hurried by. But that’s fine, too. After all there are many versions of normal and we need to accommodate all of them, give them a voice, even if that voice is merely a randomly given smile.

Happy Father’s Day, world, from a very happy father. And Dog.

This is part of Jo’s Monday walks which you can follow here.

 

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published three books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars and Salisbury Square. In addition I published an anthology of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand this summer. A fourth book will be out soon. This started life as a novel in a week on this blog and will follow later this year. I blog about all sorts at geofflepard.com and welcome all comments. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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45 Responses to Cake Not Hate – a walk and some thoughts #london #walking #lookingforthesilverlinings

  1. Pingback: Cake Not Hate – a walk and some thoughts #london #walking #lookingforthesilverlinings — TanGental | Wanda D. Jefferson

  2. I think the world would be a much better place if we all had Cake Not Hate as our daily mantra (although there would then be a possibility of a diabetes epidemic for all but maybe a a small price to pay!?) London looks beautiful in the sunshine doesn’t it? I do think everyone smiles more when it’s sunny in the city 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Lucy Brazier says:

    I love this post, so beautifully written and remarkably insightful without ever wandering into the realms of preaching. London never ceases to amaze and fascinate. I am lucky to live out in the wilderness (ducklings and moorhen chicks aplenty!) yet be just a hour by train to the bustle of Kings Cross. Dog looks to be having a marvellous time. So glad you had a super fathers’ day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. scskillman says:

    This is a lovely piece of photo-journalism and as someone who comes from south London myself, and spent my first 18 years there, I particularly enjoyed the way you conveyed the atmosphere and the quirkiness of the places you walked through. You also reminded us that everywhere life is fuill of kindness and small acts of goodness. We need to hold that in balance with the acts of hatred that seem to dominate the national and international news, and also our responsibility to take action where we can to combat that hatred and perverse thinking. I also liked the incident with the voyeur child!

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      Ah me, I do seem to put myself in potentially embarrassing places. Glad you enjoyed the post and that is echoed your memories of the place. I’m an adopted son of south London – nearly 40″years on now – and really don’t want to live anywhere else.

      Like

  5. Beautiful writing to accompany excellent pics.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Val says:

    Beautiful post, Geoff, thank you. I seem to be spending my days on and off the verge of tears – for the terrible and also for the beautiful because they often prod the same senses.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mary Smith says:

    Lovely post, Geoff. Thanks for sharing parts of London I’ve never seen. Love the Cake not Hate idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Loved every moment of sharing this day with you and Dog. The video made me feel as though I were actually there. Love the ducks!!! Cakes not hate, what a fabulous gift to the world. Day release, eh? Well, at least you kept your wits about you when nature called…

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I probably should have held out for the public toilets but then again where’s the excitement!! And yes cake not hate is perfect just now what with the small but sharply focused assaults on my beautiful city. LovelY, lovely, people

      Liked by 1 person

  9. A lovely post, Geoff. I enjoy yours and Dog’s walks, especially when there are videos too!
    I think ‘cake not hate’ is a fabulous mantra, and they looked delicious too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  10. How beautiful. The whole idea of the cake stand. ❤ Lovely. And, as always, enjoyed your walk so thanks for sharing. Dog is adorable but you…being caught "in nature"…erm… (Did that really happen or is that Geoff humor?) Anyway, completely agree with this: "We don’t spend enough time staring at trees…" I do. I stare at trees. I love trees. But, in general, people do not spend enough time doing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ritu says:

    Humanity is there… we just all need to show it xx

    Liked by 1 person

  12. trifflepudling says:

    Like children, gardeners still know how to squat – very comfortable!
    You are kind of father to Dog too, so you did spend the day with one of your ‘children’!
    I love trees more than flowers, and the photos are lovely.
    It does seem to be a tough news spell at the moment. Several of my friends are taking steps to avoid reading or hearing any.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wonderful Geoff! I so enjoyed rambling with you and Dog and listening to your train of thought. I talk to the trees I walk under every day, I pat some of them as I pass by and dismiss any odd looks with a smile. Mine are mostly bare right now and they feel a little vulnerable to me – but I see some are putting forth buds already, and it’s barely the solstice. Perhaps like me they long for the return of the light. It is wonderful that local people are uniting in acts of unity and kindness – this is the real world!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. restlessjo says:

    I was at my daughter’s in Nottingham all weekend, Geoff, and the TV didn’t go on once. And you’re right- with all the grim goings on it was a relief just to live life. My son lives in Leeds, Jo Cox’s patch, and he managed to narrowly avoid the nightmare of London Bridge by an hour, after a day at Epsom races with friends. These days you seem to need to live a charmed life. Many thanks for the stroll and your company. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lovely scenery. I liked the seeing the dog- the most. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Mick Canning says:

    A lovely walk and Cake not hate. Yes, the world isn’t all bad, Geoff.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. How lovely Geoff, Cake not Hate. Plus a couple of pee stops on the way, dog getting away with more than his owner, what more could a chap and his dog ask for? Lol…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Rufford Abbey and Country Park | restlessjo

  19. BeckyB says:

    Perfect . . .think what many of us have been thinking over the past few weeks but probably not all in one walk!

    Liked by 1 person

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