Personal


I would like to take a few minutes, before we share in this Eucharistic celebration of John͛s life, to share some memories with you, more than the more public achievements listed in the booklet. You will all have recollections of John, as colleague, doctor, friend of many years, recent acquaintance. We hope these few words will deepen those memories and call to mind his wit, his wisdom, his laughter, his compassion and his commitment to a better world.  

I have photos of young John Bounds in his school uniform in England’s west,  many of them featuring rugby and athletics gear. Mum met this young scholar and sporting star in their senior years at adjoining grammar schools, but there was more to him than football boots and the scholarship to study medicine in London. Deeply rooted in his family and his countyr’s history, Dad would recall incidents from the war – the sound of Spitfires and Hurricanes and their Merlin engines would instantly take him back to those difficult days; he was an Air Training Cadet, flying as a passenger in Lancasters and Ansons and gaining a gliding license. He dabbled in many past-times and I found out recently that he was even a train-spotter on that most English of lines, the Great Western. He bicycled to the sea, to meet Mum in Budleigh Salterton, exploring the country that we came to associate with Ronnie Delderfield’s Valley in A Horseman Riding By, a family favourite for that reason.

Growing up, we discovered his medical school notebooks, meticulously annotated and illustrated, his microscope and stained slides. I’ve always been in awe of the drive and intelligence that took him far from Exeter, to London and King’s College Hospital. Leonard and Alice Bounds – his parents – were by no means well-off, so Dad had just his small scholarship and a vision of a professional future, not even enough for textbooks. Medicine meant long nights in the Library and extra hours of study. Those of you from the Brighton will have known him as a still-competent card player, despite his failing health, and he was very good at whist and bridge, but the family legend is that Dad used his small change to play poker so, if the cards fell kindly, he could afford the odd pint and a date with Mum.

John and Jenny make a very handsome couple in pictures from a Coronation Ball in 1952, and in their wedding photos they are the promising professional couple. They still looked wonderful even at their Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary only a few months ago. John and Jenny’s partnership in life has been enduring, but I think it needed all their love and strength to leave their families in a still-grey England and emigrate to Australia in 1963 with two tiny children. Apparently we are here today because New Zealand House and South Africa House were closed on the day Dad went up to London from Wales to enquire. Some functionary at a fortunately-open Australia House saw a chance to recruit a doctor to address the country’s medical short-comings; and with a twinkle in his eye sent us from Bargoed, South Wales, to Moree, New South Wales. It seems now like crazy adventure few would attempt today.

Beneficiaries themselves of excellent educations, Mum and Dad invested everything in their children; but I have no idea how Dad did this while starting from almost nothing, to build a practice, a home and two-hectare garden, a life in Penrith that saw deep involvement in building community and cultural institutions, and still living a full and rich life. And yet he was a wonderful father to all of us. He encouraged us with steadfast patience. He constantly opened doors to me in talking about history and literature; for each of his children, the expression of an interest in an activity would see him encourage us and find opportunities to participate. We were taken to opera, ballet – Carolyn and I got to see Nureyev and Fontaine and were probably the youngest in the audience – Shakespeare, cinemas (well, mostly Penrith drive-in, but always something worth seeing). We grew up in a house full of books.

Growing up, I thought that Dad could do anything. As a doctor, he seemed to be the wisest and most respected man in town, although he famously misdiagnosed my appendicitis, something I don’t think Graham Dinning let him forget! He replaced all the fences using a hand post-hole digger. He made his own concrete blocks to build a windbreak for the rosebeds. He had a go at making his own wine, although perhaps we should pass over that attempt. He could sing, he seemed to know all about opera and drama; he was an amateur photographer; every now and then he would sit at the piano and play Fur Elise. Mum would start community organisations and Dad would be the treasurer that made them financially viable. He was a skilled and admired member of his profession. He held to a generous, intelligent Christianity and would always add the phrase, ‘ever mindful of the needs of others”, at Grace. He loved company, and good food, music, wine, scotch, golf, his children, grandchildren and mum.

Mum is the great poetry lover in our family, but Dad’s Oxford Book of English Verse (the ‘Q’ edition, of course, as Rumpole would say) was bookmarked at Keats’ ‘The Devon Maid’, perhaps celebrating his association with the Westcountry and his own Devon maid. He had two great literary loves, however: Shakespeare and Marvell. Perhaps to complete the legend of his life, his response to a nurse’s request to write something on his last Wednesday was “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears”! I told him something more poetic might have been appropriate and, sick as he was, he immediately quoted the opening of Marvel’s ‘Coy Mistress’. For a life so rich and so full, lived which such generosity and compassion, it is hard that time must now pass him by; but Marvell’s words challenge us to use every day as well as John Bounds used his. 

Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run. 

I love lists, so here is my holiday list, just to prove I have a screw loose!

Films/Videos
Age of Uprising
The Imitation Game
All is Lost
The Water Diviner
Belle
Brick Lane
Byzantium
Dallas Buyers
Downhill
Mr Morgan’s Last Love
Mr Pip
12 Years a Slave
Inside Llewelyn Davies
Her
Mr Turner
St Vincent
Birdman

Books
Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys)
All That I Am (Anna Funder)
The Mannequin Makers (Craig Cliff)
Fields of Glory (Michael Jecks)
The Empty Throne (Bernard Cornwell)
South of Darkness (John Marsden)
The End of Sparta (Victor Davis Hanson)
John the Pupil (David Flusfeder)

eBooks
The Making of the Atomic Bomb (Richard Rhodes)
Charles Bean (Ross Coulthard)
The One Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window and Disappeared (Jonas Jonasson)
The History of England: Vol 1 Foundation (Peter Ackroyd)
The Guns At Last Light (Rick Atkinson)
Berlin at War (Roger Moorhouse)
Eyrie (Tim Winton)
The Sound of One Hand Clapping (Richard Flanagan)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Richard Flanagan)

Still to Come —

A Short History of Nearly Everything (Bill Bryson)
Modern Times (Paul Johnson)
The Path Between the Seas (David McCullough)
A History of God (Karen Armstrong)

As I tap this out in my long-suffering iPad, England is rushing past the train window, courtesy of Virgin Trains. I can’t help thinking that “Virgin” must be the worst name ever to describe a train service — if accurate, one would expect the train to never come! Nevertheless, here we are watching a very bucolic and still-United Kingdom enjoy a lovely autumn day, while Paula and I look at each other across the table and wonder what the hell we are doing.
The idea of a walking holiday together certainly predates my Camino. We can blame our optometrist for planting the seeds, because he dismissed Paula’s unwillingness to rough it on the Camino by talking about the fact that he and his wife and some friends had just come back from the Coast to Coast. As usual, the seeds of this trip were planted even before we left for Eastern Europe last year.
When I left Paula and Liam in Madrid last year, my one fear was that I would be lonely on the walk to Santiago. In the end, of course, nothing could be further from the truth and I have carried many of the people I met with me in my heart for the last twelve months. Indeed, I am wearing the cheap scallop shell I bought in Foncebadon when we took refuge from the freezing fog in that amazing bar.
This time, the feeling is strange, because walking has a strong association with all the people I met and shared time — Beth, Tobias, Paige, Wilma, Paul, Maria, Bianca — and they won’t be with me! It hit me recently that, while I always say that I would go back to the Camino if I had five weeks and a couple of grand, all of my expectations were based on the amazing times we had together. If I did it again, it would be different faces and so different experiences. That is, I suppose, the mystery of life.
So Paula and I sit here, nowhere near as fit as we should be, wondering if our post-flu bodies (yes, we both got it this year) will cope with the walking — and whether we will still be talking to each other at the end of each day. I think it will be an amazing time together, because we have not had much time in the last couple of months. But watch this space.

For the record, here is the itinerary:

Sunday 21st September
Travel to St Bees where your first nights accommodation has been booked

Monday 22nd September
Walk St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge 14 miles (22.5 km)

Tuesday 23rd September
Walk Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite 14.5 miles (23 km)

Wednesday 24th September
Walk Rosthwaite to Patterdale 17.5 miles (28 km)

Thursday 25th September
Walk Patterdale to Shap 16 miles (25.5 km)

Friday 26th September
Walk Shap to Kirkby Stephen 20 miles (32 km)

Saturday 27th September
Walk Kirkby Stephen to Keld 13 miles (21 km)

Sunday 28th September
Walk Keld to Reeth 11 miles (17.5 km)

Monday 29th September Walk Reeth to Richmond 11 miles (17.5 km)

Tuesday 30th September
Walk Richmond to Ingleby Cross 23 miles (37 km)

Wednesday 1st October
Walk Ingleby Cross to Clay Bank Top 12.5 miles (20 km)

Thursday 2nd October Walk Clay Bank Top to Glaisdale 18.5 miles (29.5 km)

Friday 3rd October Walk
Glaisdale to Robin Hood’s Bay 19 miles (30.5 km)

Saturday 4th October
Depart from Robin Hood’s Bay after breakfast

With apologies to Andrew Barton Paterson and Tom Waites
Polo
As the dawn breaks every morning,
I go to my GTi
And I set the pistons moving,
As the dawn light’s in the sky.
I skirt Sydney’s swirling traffic,
That gridlocked park on tollways grey.
I head out beyond the suburbs
To my workplace far away.
O the fools who mutely suffer
On the M5, Sydney-bound,
Have no idea the joys of travel
With no other cars around,
And I set the podcasts rolling –
Late Night Live and Rachael Cohn –
While the cruise control sits watchful
As the miles roll on and on
Till I reach the Southern Highlands,
And I wind through quiet towns,
And collect a hot skim latte
As the Eight AM News sounds.
Then I drive up to Chevalier
And I leave my trusty car
Cooling in the shade of gum trees,
While I work curricular.
In my office dim and dusty,
Lit by flickering displays,
I advise, and check compliance,
And mark students’ draft essays.
But my Polo’s waiting for me,
Pointed at the Old South Road:
Five o’clock will mark my freedom
From the grind and ceaseless goad.
Though I love my work and students,
I will leave them far behind,
Unleash the kilowatts beneath me,
Let the turbocharger whine
Through the twilight and the darkness,
While the kilometres fly
Past the windows as I drive home
In my Polo GTi.

Well, every trip should finish with a celebration of highlights, high jinks and learning both good and bad. This is my list in no particular order.

  1. Don’t be afraid to build a basilica out of a barn.
  2. Never walk past a Michelin Restaurant. Somehow, God will open the door, and your wallet.
  3. Always download an offline map app to your iPhone, and remember to download the maps as well.
  4. Make sure you have the tube and metro apps on your phone, but don’t trust the National Rail Timings.
  5. Check the time of the last train, it could be a long walk home.
  6. Sooner or later, you have to sleep. It is impossible to do it all.
  7. Boring people do boring things, so don’t do boring things and you won’t meet them.
  8. Waitresses in pubs love a smile, waitresses in cafes couldn’t give a stuff.
  9. If you can’t find the shop, keep walking. The one you weren’t looking for is even more interesting.
  10. Forget the size of the hotel room. What are you doing in it anyway?
  11. It’s amazing how far you can get with a day trip.
  12. You always pack too much, so get rid of it. Anything that won’t dry overnight should be left behind.
  13. Pay extra for a shower, and it massage, food and a lounge are included, you have struck gold.
  14. The drugs don’t work. Just enjoy the drink, have a good book and hope the movies are ok.

And the meals?

  1. la Cognette of course</li
  2. Riverside At Stratford
  3. Either of the pubs I frequented in London
  4. Jan’s lunch

Time to fly!

20130704-210503.jpg

I looked at my passport while waiting to go through Passport Control at St Pancras and the thought came to mind that I didn’t even have a passport ten years ago. How life changes, and how those changes make you realise the impermanence of life. It has been such a lucky ride and one can only appreciate it while one can.

I’m sitting in front of one of the original ugly Australians, probably called Dazza, whose voice is as musical as sawing corrugated iron and the conversation has yet to get beyond basic boofhead. Fantastic! Stupid old bastard. First trip overseas and I hope he falls off the Eiffel Tower. Rather a contrast to the woman who sat beside me at the phone-charging desks. Darling, I want to send some flowers to Nigella (yes, and it went on and on). In pots, if you can. I want the new house to be lovely. So hard moving out — even when the rent on the new place is astronomical). Oh no, I don’t think it will be a scandal, he’s too much the gentleman (to completely throttle her in public). And I won’t be in this afternoon, I have some important things to do (like pissing over to Paris on Eurostar). People are very strange and sometimes surprising.!

On the other hand, I’ve had some lovely conversations with perfect strangers since leaving Issoudun, a couple in broken Franglais, some encounters with Aussies, Kiwis, Poms, and Yanks. All good company and better when doing things that are a bit out there. The more interesting the activity, the better the company, I’ve decided. Boring people do boring things. And it’s amazing how far a simple compliment can get you. The young woman who sat beside me from Banbury this morning did an instant makeup transformation while I was turning pages and I joked about two minute magic. She saw the joke and we laughed about the superiority of women over men all the way to Marylebone.

So, in honour of a voyage that was not all fun, and remembering a home-coming that may not be all I want (thanks, Board of Studies), here are the best bits of the passport, because even I am losing track of the trips.

  1. Wien Schwechaf 18 November 2006, which s the first stamp, I think.
  2. immigration Officer Paris 2 Dec 2006, leaving Paris to go to London during the first trip.
  3. Immigration Officer Dublin Port 16 Dec 2006 — getting off the ferry in Dublin
  4. <lImmigration Officer Heathrow 27 Dec 2008

  5. Left Londres 27 Dec 2008 (the beginning of trip 2)
  6. Left Paris Nord 14 Jan 2009 (the end of trip 2)
  7. Immigration Officer Paris 14 Jan 2009 (UK Immigration at Paris Nord on the way to London)
  8. Immigration Australia 5 Jan 2010, which is the trip to Christchurch, I think.
  9. Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection, ADMITTED, thank you America, 26 June 2010, San Francisco heading north
  10. Canada June 26 2010: Vancouver Airport
  11. Another stamp from Homeland Security, confusingly dated 24 Sept 2010.
  12. Immigration Thailand 23 Sept 2012, on the way to Koh Samui.
  13. Immigration Koh Samui 29 Sept 2012, coming back.
  14. Singapore Immigration Visit Pass
  15. Singapore immigration 29 Sept 2012 (that was the lightning tour of the city
  16. Roissy CDG 20 June 2013, arriving for the Issoudun Pilgrimage
  17. Left Paris Nord 29 June 2013, catching Eurostar to London this trip.
  18. The latest, 3 July 2013, homeward bound from London.

So there it is, and its a shame that one doesn’t always get a stamp. How can you win the prize if you can’t collect all the stamps? So there, New Zealand!

Fuck. He is called Dazza. The Ugly Australian Abroad. Time to go home.

20130703-190935.jpg

20130703-195304.jpg

The time is really speeding by and I’m already thinking of home; in fact, dragging a bag up to Stratford was the last thing I felt like, but I was looking forward to the evening so needs must.

We’ll come back here together, but never in summer. Any sense of Shakespeare is completely ruined by the queue outside the birthplace and the other major attractions. I foreswore tourist traps and went for a walk instead, doing what I cold with the camera, given the grey old day. I think one of the things I have learned on this trip is that you carry a camera for photography, not happy snaps. If you want a memento, an iPhone is fine, or a good point and shoot. Forget all the crossover stuff. If it is worth shooting, it is worth dragging a real camera; and if it is worth areal camera, then it is worth the time. I followed Luke’s advice and took some time, and decided to take the best pictures after dark, when the lack of light wold make no difference.

20130703-125454.jpg
Like all English towns, there is a contrast between the heritage bit and the real life of the town. Step outside of the centre and there are factories and council houses, while even the town itself has a bit of interwar blah and postwar blechh. The kitsch factor was well in evidence: who would stay in a B and B called Hamlet House? I would be worried about poison in the ear, would obsessively check behind curtains and worry about the cutlery at breakfast.

The bits that are truly nice are down near the river. The integration of the old theatre and Elisabeth Scott’s building i beautiful and the river itself picture perfect.

20130703-130100.jpg
I wandered along the longboat quays and marveled over the lock mechanism. From here, canals could take you down two-century old waterways to London, Birmingham, Liverpool and beyond. The better pubs were outside the centre (thanks for lunch, Dirty Duck) and the walk along the banks to Holy Trinity Church better than the tourist talk would have you believe. There were only fifteen people in the church when I got there. The rest were still queuing for Shakespeare’s Birthplace.

20130703-130243.jpg

20130703-130409.jpg20130703-130432.jpg
The hotel was excellent, especially for the money. I had a big room in the newer section, behind the 1540s half-timbered bit, which faced the Guild Church and King Edward VI Grammar School, very familiar territory for bardolators. There was no point shopping, because I had not room in the pack and much of what I found was tat. I was taken with a mug and tie from the RSC but someone would be bound not to get the joke when I turned up with “CHILDREN ARE MAGGOTS” on my coffee or a tie printed with Shakespearean insults. Life is rather dull.

The evening was rather better but needed sharing. I had great meal in the Rooftop Restaurant. The show was a knockout but I really need the program to comment in full — and it’s in my bag! Have to finish with photos.

20130703-130705.jpg

20130703-130728.jpg

Next Page »