Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tony Judt on Putney

A break from the Fowey Classics as having a quiet day at home reading the papers, from which found out that writer and historian Tony Judt came from Putney.

A great man and a brave man, he continued his work and lectures even when paralysed from the neck down with ALS, the disease that killed him on the 6th August, just over a week ago.

One of his last articles described his childhood by the Thames. You can read the entire piece at The Guardian here, but this is his take on living by the river:

Putney had its loose ends, too. The riverbank was still semi-rural and largely untouched – once you got past the ever-so-slightly commercialised strip near the bridge, where the annual Oxford-Cambridge boat race began. There were boathouses, houseboats, the occasional tug, abandoned skiffs rotting gently into the mud: living evidence of the river's ancient business. At Putney the Thames is still actively tidal: at times a narrow stream lazily bisecting great beaches of mud, at others close to overflowing its scruffy and rather under-secured banks when a ferry or pleasure boat, on its way from Westminster up to Teddington or even Oxford, swept under the bridge and into the great bend embracing Craven Cottage (Fulham's football ground) on the opposite bank. Putney's river was messy, inelegant and functional; I spent a lot of time sitting by its edge and thinking, though I no longer remember about what.

While the High Street he describes has changed much that seems pretty much as it is today.

I too have spent a long time by the river edge sitting and thinking, and I too can not always remember what about.


Tillerman said...

I too have spent a long time by the edge of the bay sitting and reading blogs, and I too can not always remember what about.

O Docker said...

Some days, I sit in the morning sun, and I'll be sitting when evening comes - watching the ships roll in, and then watching them roll away again.

I'm just sitting on O Dock by the bay, wasting time.

JP said...

Sounds great, both sits.

There's something very soothing about the sight and sounds of moving water.

I think the pondering is helped by coffee to hand and iPod to ear.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Judt will be missed. In the future even more. Where was he ever wrong?

JP said...

Yup his wisdom will be missed.

But there will be others to pick up his torch I hope.