David Charters: Picking a good home town is a good idea.


And the man on the corner of the busy London street had cushions sewn onto the elbows of his baggy but once expensive tweed jacket. In younger years, any fashion-conscious scarecrow would have noticed it.

Home was far away. But my step became faster. Our crispy old town cake was waiting.

Latest considerations of the Bard of Birkenhead

But soon I was referred to the station. And your wandering pensioner started the return journey to Birkenhead.

He did not. I might as well have asked a brooding hen to explain the origin of the egg – you know, the old mystery that first appeared.

He’s a local, I thought, probably an academic who knows for sure where the nearest tube station is.

In fact, there were only a few plump blackberries this time. Most were small and sweet, perhaps because of the long dry season. Yes, we all have information that becomes our knowledge. But it can be very different. That is what makes us who we are, individuals. If we knew everything, there would be no secret. Maybe I’m an ignoramus, but I don’t really want to know how everything began, whether it was creation or a big bang billions of years ago. In my life everything was always there, and I like it that way.

Of course there are people who know almost everything, these scientists and technologists who have given us so much. In fact, spring comes to mind, as well as the whistling kettle, the electric whisk, the smart bomb, the portable phone, the vacuum cleaner, the kite, the parachute, the balloon, the screw and the driver and of course the yo-yo.

While picking blackberries near the allotments on Boundary Road at the foot of Bidston Hill, I thought about a variation of the old chicken and egg puzzle. What was the seed or the blackberry first? Even more apt is the question why the thickest blackberry always lures the picker out of his hiding place among the nettles.

And the sun rises and sets over our great river, the birket.

Acres of the hill where I played as a child and took our own son with me were scorched and left behind purple tufts of hardy heather. There were still long stretches of hose that day, perhaps in anticipation of another dry period. I don’t know if that will happen. Instead, I will scratch my hand on a stubbly chin and think about it….


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