Wednesday, June 30


A few hours after I arranged to accompany my father on the Epic Walk, it was announced that the filming team would be flying to Sri Lanka the day after the walk takes place - when I’m not dreaming about bleeding scalps I get anxious that this walk might make my legs snap off and I won’t make it to the airport.

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Friday, June 25

High Anxiety

I fought my tendency to pessimism for years - then I realised that living in that state of happy surprise when things aren’t ever quite as disastrous as I expected is probably as good a place to be as any.

Making television programmes demands that an enormous amount of money and energy be invested before any project has the slightest hope of getting off the ground. I am a partner in this particular business but The Director and Miss Whiplash are in charge of most of the buttons - I just peep between my fingers from behind the sofa while they move noughts around on spreadsheets.

Earlier this year our company made a film which was really rather good, we’re up for more prizes and there have been talks about making more programmes. The talking goes on for ages before anyone actually writes a cheque so we have to get on with ordering equipment, booking flights, finding new premises and keeping our fingers crossed.

I try and internalise my predictive gloom which leads to some funny symptoms like the ones where I think I’m having a heart attack or that I've got flu or that I am slowly being paralyzed by worms. I also get those dreams where I discover myself in a state of public disarray, this weeks prize dream involved being at the hairdressers and asking if I had any bald patches, Oh yes Madam said the hairdresser and held up a mirror to show me that not only was the back of my head bald but my brain was exposed and bleeding.

That might explain my grumpiness - an exposed and bleeding brain is not easily accessorized.

The first filming trip for our new set of programmes will be to Sri Lanka, there would be job for me on this one and I really really want to go - naturally I’ve refused to believe it would actually happen, I went along for the innoculations (just in case). Then, yesterday, after a kafkaesque morning at the Sri Lankan Embassy I stood blinking in the sunshine with my hurty arm (from the jabs) and a fistful of officially stamped documents and I woke up to the fact that 1000 people per year die from snake bites in Sri Lanka and I’d better get a move on with my bespoke suit of full-body armour - I’m having special added spikes attached to foil the leopards and crocodiles.

Friday, June 18

From Grumpiness...

My morning walks continue - I multi-task and look out for premises that could accommodate a small film company with a lot of kit, I take notes of the estate agents boards stuck on buildings and peep into abandoned warehouses and cathedrals.

The walk bit of my day is lovely - when I come home for breakfast I am in a very happy place, then after nine I get on the phone to witless estate agents, attempt to track down elusive surveyors and present my findings to The Director who tells me that what I have come up with is too big, too small, too high up, too far away, too nice, too grim or ‘just not what we’re after’.

Today's map - inspired by my friend Red-handed shows how we could find our way from grumpiness to a better place.

Friday, June 11

My Career As A Cartographer

Revisiting Cecil’s drawings and the prospect of the Epic Walk took me back about a hundred years to a time when I had a job looking after goats in a very very remote part of France.

I wrote home fairly often. One of my missives described a journey that I made to attend a party in the nearest town; it started with a walk through the mountains to meet some people with horses, then we galloped like Horsemen of the Apocalypse through a thunder-and-lightening storm to my nearest neighbour’s house where everyone except me changed into dry clothes. This is where the tarmac road started, the last section of the journey was the most dangerous and involved a sort of toy jeep. I arrived at the party squelchingly wet through and hallucinating.

My father, on seeing my letter which was illustrated with a map a bit like the one above but less precise*, thought it was about time he paid me a visit, he took the train as far as he could, then the next morning he started walking, first using a proper map, then the detail ran out and he used the map in my letter, it took him all day in very hot heat, when I came home in the evening I found him sitting on the log pile outside my cabin, looking as fresh as a daisy.

My own morning walks continue, my feet have settled in to the big boots but my hips have gone a bit achey, I am feeling dangerously old about half of the time. This is exacerbated by grumpiness brought on by my search for office premises.

* my dad is no sentimentalist, the original is long gone.

Tuesday, June 8

Lovely Glasses

Like Sheila I am remembering to put on my lovely glasses for my morning walks.

I've put some more of Sir Cecil's drawings here

bad reproductions - sorry!

Sunday, June 6

The Overhauling Of Me

That's a portrait of me*, made 20 years ago by one of the residents of the Leonard Cheshire residential home where my father worked. 'Sir Cecil' had serious physical disabilities and needed help to wash, dress and feed himself. Cecil made copious images of life at the Home and I've just come across a booklet of his drawings that my father made, they agreed to sell the book to raise funds for an ambulance. I will be putting some more of his work up over the next few posts.

The caption reads 'Bath time For Sir Cecil with Lucinda Proir Palmer and MALE NURSE Prince Andrew'. Lucinda Prior Palmer was a champion show jumper at the time - I'm not sure if either she or Prince Andrew were actually moonlighting at the Cheshire Home.

My Father is now 82 years old and after a recent visit to my parent's house I have somehow agreed to accompany him on the Last Tanners Marathon - a 30-mile romp around the hills of Surrey on the 4th July. Some people do run the challenge but we will be walking - it is expected that the walkers will complete the journey in ten hours.

I have no worries about my father's abilities to rise to the challenge - he is as fit as a butcher’s dog. I, on the other hand need to shape up, and to this end I have embarked on Operation Body As Temple, the rules involve an early daily walk and No (ok Less) Bad Things

Day 1: Bounced out of bed at 6am
2-hour walk
discovered an abandoned cathedral that I didn’t know existed and found five quid in a car park
gardened all afternoon
How old do I feel? 20

Day 2: Grudgingly left house at 6.30 it is raining and gets steadily heavier over the 1.5 hours that I endure this madness
my back is creaking and I can’t bend any more
How old do I feel? 70

Day 3: Another bouncer out the front door by 6am for a 2.5 hour walk
discovered a whole wood and meadows that I didn’t know existed
How old do I feel? 25

Day 4: 1.5 hour walk
I have many pairs of shoes that should be 'walkable' and have tried a different pair every day - they all seem a little too small. Today I tried some walking boots that I have never worn because they were too big – they now fit perfectly. When did my feet grow?
How old do I feel? 30

Day 5: only out for an hour because my feet are sore – I Google ‘Fallen Arches’ then do wet foot test
How old do I feel? 90
spend the evening drinking lots of Bad Things including rum

Day 6: very very hungover, I manage a 55-minute walk before I crawl home to be very very ill, a fried breakfast usually cures this condition so I get some bacon sizzling and crack an egg in the pan – it is green and putrid.
How old do I feel? 120

Day 7: I’m up early but bleary-eyed and don’t take my glasses, I’m out walking for 2 hours, mainly because I’m blind and get lost.
How old do I feel? 50

Body State after 1 week: still more Temple Meads than Temple.

*The portrait is titled 'Ken's daughter' My dad's called Ken and Leighen Buzzard is, sort of, where he lives. All Sir Cecil's pictures are signed off with Sir Cecil H Clark, KNIGHT ARTIST (later ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE) and his subjects are often also given grand titles.
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