In January 2011 I sent the Writing Pilgrim out on a worldwide journey in search of ideas and inspiration for stories, novels and blogs. I would have liked to make the journey myself but I’m not a rich man and I have a wife and four cats that need me, a blog to maintain and novels and short stories to write so my hands are a bit tied. The Writing Pilgrim is a free spirit, travelling on the crest of a creative wave and looking to experience the world in a lifelong journey he has long wanted to take. Whatever insights he can share I hope you’ll look forward to as much as me.
A British Hero
Greetings from Heathrow Airport! Yes, despite a series of near cataclysmic mishaps I have negotiated Britain’s rail network and the London Underground and found myself watching these marvellous flying contraptions you call planes. I’m still deciding what country to head for first but in the meantime I thought I would send you a few words, a bit of early inspiration for your writing.
First of all thank you for escorting me to the train station but I have to say I was a bit perturbed by you informing me the train would arrive just after 10:00. It was actually 10:30 when it showed up! In my journey to London I came to realise that those departure times they have on display are actually some kind of secret code. My train from Leeds to London was supposed to leave at 11:45 but we didn’t set off till 12:10. All the way to the capital I found myself trying to figure out the code but I keep drawing a blank. If you could offer some insight into this I’d really appreciate it. If I’d known departure times were actually codes for later times I’d have had another cup of tea before setting off! Maybe that could be the first idea for your next novel or story set in a world where train departure times are actually the times the trains leave the station. A bit far-fetched I admit but you do write fantasy so I’m sure you’d get away with it.
Anyway, you wanted some inspiration so here we go. After reaching London I figured why not send you a taste of home before I catch a plane to foreign lands. I thought about going to see Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament but remembered that Guy Fawkes impersonator blew them up in V For Vendetta didn’t he? I thought about the Tower of London but I was a bit worried about being imprisoned there, I mean they put princes and a queen in there at one point so no one’s safe. I know you told me it’s a tourist attraction but you have to be careful these days, there are a lot of bad people out there. I even considered a trip to the River Thames but I know that bloke on The Apprentice said it was only the second largest river in London so I didn’t think that would impress you. I did ask people what was the biggest river but they’d clearly not been watching The Apprentice because they kept insisting it was the Thames. Fancy Londoners not knowing the answer, eh?
My travels eventually led me to Trafalgar Square. You’d be right at home there with your love of history. It’s got everything. There’s fountains, statues, lions (not real ones unfortunately) and even pigeons (the real ones that crap everywhere). I asked some of the tourists what it’s all about and they told me it’s a memorial to a famous battle in 1805 won by a chap named Nelson. When I asked if they meant Nelson Mandela they looked at me a tad perplexed and then amused. After they’d finished laughing I was pointed towards something called Nelson’s Column.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Nelson’s Column has to be a euphemism of some sort, right? Well, it’s actually a proper column, a stone one at that, with four bronze lions at the base. Standing at the top is this Nelson fellow – Lord Horatio Nelson, a fine name for what I soon found out was a fine man. Nelson served in the Royal Navy in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries losing the sight in one eye at an attack on Calvi (1794), he lost an arm at Tenerife (1797) but was still in charge of the British fleet in 1805 when they defeated a French/Spanish fleet at the Battle of Trafalgar during the Napoleonic Wars (not sure what Napoleonic is but it sounds nasty). Nelson was shot before the end of the battle and within a few hours was gone. They say prior to the shooting he had been wandering the deck amongst his men, watching the battle’s progress and it was clear from enemy marksmen that he was a man of prominence and a key target. Despite all that Nelson took the risk anyway, after all, he had orders to give and men to inspire to victory. After his death Nelson instantly became one of Britain’s greatest heroes, hardly surprising really.
I know your next novel A World Apart will include some seafaring adventures so what better man to inspire you than the backbone of the Royal Navy himself, especially if you’re having some good old fashioned naval battles. A statue of Nelson stands proud at the top of the column before me. Nelson’s remaining hand grasps the hilt of a sword while his empty sleeve rests across his body. Even in sandstone there is something remarkable about this depiction of Nelson.
It’s been a tiring day and I haven’t the energy to work out these flight times, they’ll all be code for other times anyway so I’ll worry about them later. When I write to you next I shall be somewhere abroad but where you’ll have to wait and see. Mind you, with my poor grasp of this transport system I guess I’ll have to wait and see as well. This could be interesting! Hopefully I’ll come across knowledge of other inspirational figures along the way. I hope my musings have given you much to ponder for this month.
Tally ho, skip skip!
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