Joy Division and a Vesta curry

“When I was 20 I tried to spend Christmas alone. It was a protest – of sorts – and also an actualisation of a deep and twisted disappointment in family, love, cosiness and cheer – all of which I held to be, in this the climactic period of my protracted adolescence, Yuletide lies and festering festive spirits.”

To read the rest of Will’s Christmas past, go here.

Holy cow!

I well remember sitting at a bar in Logan Airport, Boston, and watching the great cattledammerung of the mid-1990s on a flickering TV: mechanical grabbers lifting up tons of twitching steak tartare and dropping it into enormous trenches. It looked like the smorgasbord of the Devil himself. Ruminating over a few fluid ounces of Miller Lite, it occurred to me that this could well be The End. But no, because in ’01, I found myself walking across the causeway to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, shod penitently in £1,300 calf leather walking boots, while behind me a 30-mile swath of the Northumbrian coast was visible in the sunlight: the smoke from scores of death barbecues wavering up into the heavens, as once again the British cattle industry was near-annihilated.

Asylum years

I remember, in my early twenties, visiting a friend who was detained under a section at the Friern mental hospital on the outskirts of north London. The low, brick buildings scattered about the greensward, the pathos of the mullions, the urine-coloured linoleum – it all made a desolate impression on me. Together with its sister establishment, the Halliwick, Friern was – depending which way you looked at it – a therapeutic community, or a gulag into which the non-functioning and the indigent inhabitants of the city could be dumped.

Best foot forward

For years now pressure groups such as Living Streets and the Ramblers Association have been urging the Government to produce a co-ordinated national walking strategy. With almost geological slowness a “discussion paper” has been circulated, limping from not very interested party to indifferent one. In the meantime, local authorities have pushed ahead with their own walking strategies. If you feed these words into Google you’ll come up with plans advanced by councils as various as Luton and Cheshire. Reading them is to stroll into a petrified forest of bureaucratic jargon, where a Sits (Sustainable Integrated Transport Strategy) sits on the rotten boughs of verbiage.