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It seems I have been remiss...

It has been brought to my attention that I have been sadly neglectful of my loyal readers (that's you lot, I presume) lately. The traditional mixture of rambling digressions on maths, local history, Brexit, smutty innuendo and the rest, scattered around a selection of pictures thinly disguised as a running blog has been missed!

I suppose I could blame the collapse of the known world at the feet of global pandemic, but that seems to be taking the easy way out. No, mea culpa and all that, I shall take responsibility like a man!

It's true that as a consequence of said global pandemic I am a bit lacking in themes, but not wholly bereft. There will be more, but for now we take mental flight back to last November, when we met Claire for a not-parkrun in Dulwich Park. That far back, I can't remember exactly what the rules were, but if necessary, it was the very purest coincidence that we just happened to drive over to Dulwich on an essential journey for something or other at the same time as Claire just happened to be running there.

Since I was being made to run myself, I have no pictures of us running around the park, so we'll have to pretty much skip the pretence of being a running tale and head straight to the digression.

Amanda is off to see if the toilets are open, and hoping that's not the queue. It's not, of course, it's just people all socially distancing in the same place.

On her return, we're going to go for a little local walk in the woods.

To the casual observer, it's just a bunch of trees, but we find that it ranks as a Site of Metropolitan Importance, Metropolitan Open Land, Conservation Area, Local Nature Reserve, and the Cox's Walk footpath is a Protected London Square!

London Wildlife Trust tells us it "forms part of the largest remaining tract of the old Great North Wood, a vast area of worked coppices and wooded commons that once stretched from Deptford to Selhurst". It was their first ever reserve too!

This is not just graffiti, this is "Save our Trees" graffiti. It seems that the footbridge over the disused railway line is in need of substantial repairs, but the proposed works involve cutting down some mature trees to gain access. The locals are not happy with this plan.

"38 Degrees" is an online campaigning organisation. Never previously heard of it, but they tell us,

"38 Degrees is the angle at which a pile of snow becomes an avalanche. When enough gathers in the right place, it becomes an unstoppable force. 38 Degrees campaigns are inspired by this idea, giving individuals a chance to join an avalanche of people working together for a better world."

So there!

It's pretty obvious that the bridge needs work, though, and it's currently closed as unsafe.

The railway line was built to serve the relocated Crystal Palace in 1865, but it seems it was never terribly profitable. Its route passed through what were then picturesque but sparsely populated suburbs, and it was always short of paying passengers. It closed and re-opened a number of times before shutting for good in 1954.

I have stolen this picture from the Intertubes. It's by Camille Pissaro, painted in 1871, and it depicts what was then Lordship Lane Station as seen from the footbridge. Claire says there's a copy of this painting on the bridge itself, but we obviously can't get there to see it. The view today is totally different, of course, just trees.

This is mostly just graffiti graffiti, spoiling a rather nice mural underneath. The old tunnel was sealed off in the 1980s over fears that some missing children might have somehow been hurt and trapped inside, although that turned out not to be the case. Since then, however, bats have colonised the space (hence the mural) and it's now an officially registered bat roost.

But I was curious about the left hand side. "DEAM 0 ATTA 1" I think it says, but that means nothing to me or Google. On the other hand, Dean Atta, with an 'N', is a person: a black gay poet best known for a work called "I Am Nobody's Nigger" (which I hope won't get this email blocked by the filters!). When I say, "best known", of course, I don't want to pretend I actually knew anything about him or his work until now. It seems the year he wrote that poem, The Independent listed him at number 92 on their most influential LGBT people of 2012. I'm afraid most of the lower names on the list meant nothing to me, but at number 96, who do we find but Ruth Davidson, the former leader of the Scottish Conservative Party who actually got Scottish people to vote for them!

Alternatively, "Deam" is a form of the Latin word for "goddess", although it's the form used for the object of a verb, of which there is nothing obvious to be seen.

Oh well, maybe the bats know.

Those vandals! Look what they've done to that poor tree!

The nature reserve occupies land that once formed the grounds of some splendid VIctorian villas, built in the glory days of the Crystal Palace. This is the ruin of an old folly, and there are various odd bits of masonry in odd corners all around.

We walk back along the track bed, and are now underneath the problematic bridge where there are a couple of tents. Nobody is obviously in residence as we pass, but it seems a pretty safe bet that they're protesters making sure that somebody from the council doesn't sneak in with a chainsaw when nobody's looking.

I don't think these are the graffiti artist's tools of choice!

And stop press: just days ago as I write this, it would seem that Southwark Council have decided to commission a new consultant to report on the possibility of repairing the bridge without losing the trees!

Well then...

Plenty of local history, so I hope that makes up for the lack of any maths, philosphy, slanderous gossip... or even running. I do have a story or two in hand, so I'll see if I can work in some more of the above soon.

Love to all,


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