It is the evening of October 4, the feast day of St Francis, and Bomerano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast is celebrating.
Fireworks send thunderclaps echoing around the valley and down to the sea, silencing the barking dogs and an unknown caged bird just below us whose call sounds like a turkey doing a bad impression of itself.
Let’s call him Bill Franklin. We meet him on West Wycombe Hill, by the huge, walled mausoleum to Sir Francis Dashwood (1708-1781), who founded the Hellfire Club and hosted its meetings in chalk caves he had excavated some 100m below our feet.
Me and The Goff walked the Thames from Woolwich to Rotherhithe on a sunny Sunday. It’s a stretch of the river neither of us have much cause to visit and it’s fascinating, not least because so unlike the London of our everyday lives.
There’s still industry here from an age of rust and clank sitting besides new flats that by comparison seem more modern than they already are.
It’s a place of dead and ruin, of abiding and of the future. Perhaps appropriately it crosses the Meridian Line.
And the river is wide, spanned at the east by the Thames Barrier, which shines beautiful in the sun, keeping greater ruin at bay.