Category Archives: weather

Travel on, through leaves and over bridges of time

Paul ClaytonDone laid around, done stayed around
This old town too long;
Summer’s almost gone, winter’s coming on.

Where he got it from is anybody’s business, but Paul Clayton slapped his copyright on it. There’s a long, long story in how the song came to be, narrated in glorious and excruciating detail by Bob Coltman.

They were all at the game in the early folkie years: even the sainted Pete Seeger sailed close to the wind with Wimoweh. So much so, there was a variant on that old morality, Keep your hand on your ha’penny, urging young song-writers to Keep your hand on your copyright.

Itin the Paul Clayton context, was Gotta Travel On. And therein, too, lies a story. On 31st January 1959, Robert Zimmermann was at a Buddy Holly concert at the Armory, in Duluth, Minnesota. On this tour Holly opened his set with an acoustic version of the Clayton-copyrighted Gotta Travel on. Two days later, Buddy Holly performed the same set at the Surf Ballroom, Clear Lake, Iowa. That night Holly, Richy Valens and The Big Bopper were killed when their aircraft crashed.

220px-Bob_Dylan_-_Self_PortraitOn 5th March 1970 Bob Dylan (transmogrified from the young Robert Zimmermann) was at Columbia Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, and recorded three minutes and eight seconds of Gotta Travel On, for the Self Portrait album. Not one of the Bobster’s better efforts.

If I had to choose a version (and in this context I probably do), it would be the way I first heard it, as Done Laid Around, from The Weavers 1958 album, with Erik Darling depping for Seeger (who’d offed himself over the music policies dictated by Vanguard Records, and over a cigarette advertisement). I can’t see how to load up that version.

It’s a very elastic piece: you can have it frantic, as Bill Monroe did it:

Or, as I’d prefer it, more reflective and laid-back, as the re-booted Kingston Trio did in 1965:

– — oO0 — –

So, yesterday, we were  off twenty miles up-country, and up-hill nearly four hundred feet, to Harrogate.Unknown

As far as I could see, the grain along the route hasn’t been harvested yet — but that can’t be long delayed. What I noticed — this much higher, perhaps a fraction cooler — were the leaves, especially on the oaks, were browning. There was a larger leaf-fall than I’d seen in York. Winter’s definitely coming on in these parts. And the winds getting round to the north.

Then, for reasons that are far too complicated to explain, but made perfect sense at the time, I re-read Kurt Vonnegut’s short-story, Long Walk To Forever.

– — oO0 — –

O.K., class, everybody eyes down. Look at that opening sentence:

They had grown up next door to each other, on the fringe of a city, near fields and woods and orchards, within sight of a lovely bell tower that belonged to a school for the blind.

 Where’s the fore-shadowing there? Any other images that might be significant? You’ve noted them down? Back to the text:

“Could you come for a walk?” he said. He was a shy person, even with Catharine. He covered his shyness by speaking absently, as though what really concerned him were far away — as though he were a secret agent pausing briefly on a mission between beautiful, distant, and sinister points. This manner of speaking had always been Newt’s style, even in matters that concerned him desperately.

“A walk?” said Catharine.

 “One foot in front of the other,” said Newt, “through leaves, over bridges—”


Leave a comment

Filed under Britain, fiction, folk music, Kurt Vonnegut, Literature, Music, weather, Yorkshire

The New York Times goes quite Bardian

Just found the New York Times daily taster e-mail in my in-box.

Of late, it always kicks off with the weather. Here’s today:

A sticky Wednesday morning to you.

It is already 80 degrees.

It’s been 280 days since the temperature last hit 90 in Central Park.

Some time in the midafternoon, as the sun bakes down, we should reach that magic number again.

It is easy to forget how shocking it feels when the city shifts into high summer: A sullen violence hangs in the sultry air, the normal borders between things peeled away.

Tuesday, with a high of 89 degrees – the hottest day so far this year – gave a little taste.

On a sidewalk table at a cafe on loud, listless Fourth Avenue in Brooklyn sat a stainless steel bowl filled with water balloons and a sign taped to it: “It’s time.”

Try reading that aloud, especially:

A súllen ví-lence hángs in th’ súltry áir,
The nórmal bórders b’twéen things péeled awáy.

Not only (almost) natural iambic pentameters (as least the way I read it), but an internal rhyme and some nice assonances.

Now consider:

A glooming peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for sorrow, will not show his head …

That’s Romeo and Juliet, Act V, scene iii, lines 315-6.

Spooky, huh? (Or possibly, deliberate or not, the husks from a good education in there, still).

Leave a comment

Filed under education, New York City, New York Times, Shakespeare, weather

National crisis!

It is a a measure of how limited are the horizons of Little England.

Tomorrow’s Daily Telegraph has a front-page story — competing with the MH370 disappearance, Osborne’s annuity ploy coming unstitched, Russia ejected from G8  — and headlined:

Perfect storm leads to fence panel shortage.

The on-line version is even more sensational:

traditional lap fencing … is being offered for up to £80 a panel to panic buyers on the black market.

There has even been a spate of thefts of wooden fence panels from people’s gardens.

Leave a comment

Filed under Daily Telegraph, weather

A problem of geometric geography

Tom Whipple, “Science Correspondent”, of The Times has a piece on how to rescue the flooded Somerset Levels:

Building a vast tidal lagoon in the Severn Estuary would be a better way to combat floods in the Somerset Levels than dredging and would generate a significant amount of renewable energy, a senior hydrologist has said.

Roger Falconer, of Cardiff University, argued that the government decision to ignore expert advice and dredge rivers in the region was not just largely pointless but contradicted the “fundamental laws of fluid dynamics”.

Here’s the bit that has me totally confused:

“In the Somerset Levels, you’ve virtually got a horizontal water slope,” Professor Falconer said. “The real solution to flooding is to increase the slope. Raising the land is out of the question, so what you need to do is effectively drop the sea level.”

See my problem: a horizontal water slope, whether virtually or not, seems self-contradictory.

As for effectively dropping the sea level, there is a precedent. Send for Cecil B. DeMille.

Leave a comment

Filed under Britain, films, Times, weather

Another low blow

There’s the Bristol Channel earthquake. Felt in Exeter. Doubtless gave the Somerset Levels a small jolt.

There’s this, on the BBC website strap-line:

The UK has had wettest winter on record – 486.8mm of rain – beating previous 1995 record, Met Office says

Err … how bad was the flooding in 1995?

But what really, really got to me this afternoon was on politicshome:


The Archbishop of Canterbury has lent his support …

That is a seriously stale metaphor, and even a mixed one, but also one I never quite understood.

What kind of “support” is intended?

Here’s some, of the ecclesiastical kind, I see every time I wander past Bootham Bar:


Having builders in the house since the start of the year, I am aware of Acrows:


Do hierarchs of the Church of England run a sideline in them?

And, what with stoles, chasubles, surplices, copes, cinctures and mitres, one doesn’t like to enquire too precisely what goes under the cassock. Could it be one of these? And would you truly want to have a borrowed one? Even one “lent” by the fragrant Dr Welby?


Leave a comment

Filed under Paul Waugh, politicshome, reading, Religious division, weather

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Met warning

Suddenly, in the last few minutes, that great elm tree opposite has been making noises. Here in “old” York (which must be where the Venn-diagram of yellow and orange overlap), it’s getting more than breezy.

All afternoon I have been watching (H/T to @BorisWatch) and the sequence of aborted landings. The most spectacular must include this:


I recall landing at Tees-side (I think in a Handley-Page Herald) in a severe crosswind. I became aware that, sitting in a starboard window seat, I could see all down the runway as we came in crab-wise.

Not nice.

Meanwhile, Virgin Trains have excelled:


The reason is not far to find:

17:18: Network Rail says Crewe station has been evacuated due to damage to the station roof.
17:22: Network Rail confirms Crewe station is now closed after roof damage and power lines came down in high winds.

As Dear Old Dad was won’t to mutter:

Heaven help all poor souls at sea.

Leave a comment

Filed under Britain, leisure travel, railways, Virgin, weather

Five Feet High and Risin’

You knew that was coming.

But what has been falling?

Apart from the rain? Well, try this:

Flood Defences


That should be read in three ways:

  1. The regular increases from 2007/8 to 2010/11 were  a recognition by the “spendthrift” Labour government that there were roofs, or rather  riverbeds to fix while the sun was suing.
  2. The programmed cuts by the ConDem government, under Osborne’s panic-inducing Spending Review, were flying in the face of all reasoned prediction, and were a (now lost) hostage to fortune.
  3. The blue “Additional Capital funding”, with the extra bunce Cameron found down the back of the sofa last Wednesday, should be interpreted as “Sorry! We were wrong!”

Oh, and there’s this:

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs will deliver resource savings of an average 8% a year, but we will fund a major improvement in our flood defences and coastal erosion management that will provide better protection for 145,000 homes.

From the horse’s arse himself: The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr George Osborne), House of Commons, 20th October 2010.

An object lesson

Now for a bit more musical accompaniment (and how a Nervous Nellie should deal with a big fool):

1 Comment

Filed under Britain, Conservative Party policy., economy, George Osborne, weather