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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Monday, 17 October 2016


Monday, October 17th., 6, Victoria Grove, London.

Slept in late this morning but thankfully felt well on rising having been just a little under the weather yesterday. Of course it is the darker mornings which encourage the prolongation of sleep. I decided on a good long walk having nothing else particularly in prospect and set out at about 10.30. Lovely autumnal morning. High clouds; quite warm when the sun came through. I felt as if I could walk forever! All went well until I was just a couple of miles from home. I had in fact been sitting on a convenient bench enjoying the sunshine and congratulating myself on being so satisfactorily at leisure whilst the rest of the world was working when I noticed dark clouds building in the south. I was already aware that the wind was from the south and felt the first tinge of anxiety. By the time I got to the top of the hill, and could see the countryside around I realised that a heavy band of rain was approaching, and a soaking was in prospect. Of course I had no raincoat as it had been a lovely day. Ah well, nothing to do but walk on stoically and accept my fate. Completely drenched within minutes of being overtaken by the rain, which only lasted for about 5 minutes before it passed; then the sun shone again. Never mind - I've been wetter!

Earlier I happened to be standing about waiting for a bus when I became aware of a man nearby engrossed in a newspaper and smoking a pipe. He was oblivious to me and to the rest of the world and I was able to study him closely without his notice. I found myself trying to imagine what was going on in his head and realised more clearly than I perhaps have before that it is impossible to imaginatively enter into another person's mind state. Was he thinking about what was happening in the world as revealed by his newspaper? Was he in fact reading, or simply looking in the direction of the paper whilst mentally occupied elsewhere? No way to know, and how isolating it is to confront this unbridgeable gap.

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