My Mother’s Voice

Alzheimer’s being the conniving thieving bitch that  it is, my mother wasn’t herself in the final years of her life. The  woman I visited in the Alzheimer’s special care unit was a stranger wearing my mother’s skin but not much else, like the invasion of the body snatchers had taken place, month after month beneath the surface, until one day we looked and the woman we knew was gone, replaced by some alien being. An imposter. Intruder alert. Intruder alert. She died back in 2012. Don’t worry; I won’t be getting maudlin on you.  My real mother–not that stranger in a wheel chair, head nodding on her shoulder–is who I want to think about today.  My real mother —Enid Maude Good nee Hayden, a prim, old-fashioned name, perhaps the only thing about her I didn’t love— was British-born and had a lovely London lilt to her voice her whole life even though she left England in the mid-1950’s. I suppose at thirty, her vocal patterns were already frozen in place.  Sounding like a cross between

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Above Ground on the London Underground–Day 50: We're in a Book ... What the Dickens!

If it's Friday we must be back in London. Every Friday I take a virtual walking tour ‘above ground’ on the London Underground. Using my Tube guide & my fitbit® device, my goal is to walk 10,000 steps a day roughly following along the Underground route, reporting back here on Fridays with my findings We're currently following the Central Line. Here are the previous days. This is Day 50.

Wandering along the Oxford Road from the Marble Arch we’re traveling parallel to our walk along the Piccadilly Circus route. We’re quite near places we’ve visited before, Marble Arch which we’ve just left, the British Museum, and Selfridges.

Today heading towards Chancery Lane, we’re having a look at a couple of literary locations, one well known to anyone who has read Charles Dicken’s Bleak House and the other made famous by Dan Brown in The Da Vinci Code.

Photograph: Kurt Hutton/Getty images/1951

Lincoln’s Inn, the oldest of the four Inns of Court was originally used by members when they were called to the bar, as a home base, a place to study, confer with peers and often as an ‘inn’, a place to lay one’s head. The so-called Inns are also the associations to which the barristers belong.

Established in its present location sometime in the 15th century, the court in the old hall figures in the opening paragraphs of Bleak House. By the time Dickens came to write the novel, the British legal system was completely wrapped up in bureaucracy and red tape and Bleak House drips with his disdain for a system that disfavored the common man like his own father. Look how he introduces Lincoln’s Inn and the Temple Bar in Bleak House
The raw afternoon is rawest, and the dense fog is densest, and the muddy streets are muddiest near that leaden-headed old obstruction, appropriate ornament for the threshold of a leaden-headed old corporation, Temple Bar. And hard by Temple Bar, in Lincoln's Inn Hall, at the very heart of the fog, sits the Lord High Chancellor in his High Court of Chancery.
 Never can there come fog too thick, never can there come mud and mire too deep, to assort with the groping and floundering condition which this High Court of Chancery, most pestilent of hoary sinners, holds this day in the sight of heaven and earth. 
Kind of disappointing in that from May 2016 to January 2018 you can wander around the grounds but the tours of the interiors of the buildings are cancelled until 2018. 

Another famous Dicken’s locale in the area is a pub that dates to 1667. Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, a favorite of Dickens—who featured it in A Tale of Two Cities—and a host of literary luminaries including Oliver Goldsmith, Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, G.K. Chesterton & P. G. Wodehouse. We can stop in and sit in Dicken’s favorite chair before we hurry on to the nearby Temple Church which dates to 1185. It was built by the Knights Templar as their English headquarters. 

Famously featured in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code the Temple Church is the site that Langston and Sophie visit with Leah Teabing in order to solve the riddle: 

In London lies a knight a Pope interred. His labour’s fruit a Holy wrath incurred. You seek the orb that out be on his tomb. It speaks of Rosy flesh and seeded womb.’’ The Da Vinci Code

At first Langston and the women believe the stone effigies of the Knights—still there in the church—are actual tombs but they realize they’re wrong. So off they go to Westminster Abbey. You can follow in their footsteps like thousands of other fans of The Da Vinci Code have done before you. 

Before you take off though, let’s pay a quick visit to another of Dicken’s favorite watering holes, the Ye Olde Cock, opposite the Temple Church. Dating back to 1549 the pub has been the bar of choice for historic figures like Samuel Pepys, Doctor Johnson, Alfred, Lord Tennyson and, in all likelihood, Dan Brown. It sounds like an ideal place to regroup after an afternoon doing literary research. Make mine a shandy, please!

Ye Olde Cock Tavern
22 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1AA
+44 20 7353 8570

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese
145 Fleet St, London EC4A 2BU
+44 20 7353 6170

Temple Church
Temple, London EC4Y 7BB
+44 20 7353 8559

Treasury Office, London WC2A 3TL
+44 20 7405 1393

Counting the Fitbit steps

Day 1-49:                                                 355,340 steps/155.9 miles   

Day 50: Lincolns Inn to Temple Church     7500 steps/3.1miles

Total Imaginary Miles to Date                362,840 steps/159 miles

 Connect to Joy Weese Moll's British Isles Friday meme


  1. Excellent - as always. This series of yours is so good. Temple church is amazing - I can just about remember a few pints in the Cheshire Cheese, but have never been in the Cock (walked past it often enough). It's an interesting part of town.

  2. What a fun walk! I want to follow those footsteps exactly. I loved both Bleak House and the Da Vinci Code -- I may well have read them in the same year!


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