Walking the Thames 2

And it’s off. Catch the 11.07 Nottingham-Gloucester, then 13.33 to Kemble. A somewhat overcast day. Train quite empty in spite of nearly every seat being reserved. Plenty of time to ponder what walking up to 16 miles a day will be like and whether I will have time to explore the surrounding landmarks, churches, bridges and pubs.

Arrive at Gloucester 12:24 on time and find myself amongst several others with disarmingly large rucksacks. Maybe this won’t be the solitary journey I had expected! As it happens, none get off at Kemble.

As we pull into Stroud, I am reminded of Laurie Lee who “walked out one midsummer morning” from Stroud and carried on to Andalusia. From here on the scenery changes. Instead of fields stretching off in the distance, or industrial sites, there are now hills to the east. We pass through Chalford which looks a beautiful village, yellow stone small houses around a river.

Train pulls into Kemble spot on time. There’s a taxi waiting, “Is it Peter?” Lee, the driver, came to this area from Scunthorpe for a three month job as a chef and stayed 30 years. He became a forester and a builder, now loves driving around the Cotswolds countryside.

I am staying at The Thames Head Inn which is a lovely place

The dog friendly Thames Head Inn
My room – Room 3. TV, ensuite, wifi, coffee

The barman sounds just like Henning Wehn, “But I was here first” he tells me. But having been here working 35 years, he and his wife now have to register to stay. What sort of country have we allowed racism to make us into.

The pub is on the busy A433 and is the closest Inn to the source of the Thames, being about 1 Km away. Out of the pub, turn left for two minutes, and just before the railway bridge go left then over a stile.

But that’s tomorrows challenge.

Walking the Thames 1

The Thames Path follows the River Thames from its source in rural Gloucestershire to beyond the Thames barrier – almost 200 miles in all. My plan is to do it all in 4-5 stages. The first stage, from Kemble to Oxford is around 50 miles and I start that on Tuesday 17th September. hopefully getting to Oxford on Friday 20th. I shall be staying in Kemble, Cricklade, Lechlade, Newbridge and Oxford. There is more information in a blog by Keith Palling, who walked the path in 2007.

Kemble is a small town in Gloucestershire, and is the nearest settlement to the source of the Thames at Thames Head. Trains go to Kemble station, from Nottingham, change at Gloucester, takes about 3 hours. I am staying at the Thames Head Inn, and they helped me book a taxi from the station with A-B Taxi (01285 655 651).

The Abusive World of the Followers of Rachel Riley…

On 29th March, I stood up for Jackie Walker against Rachel Riley’s abuse on Twitter. I find it unconscionable that anyone can attack a black, Jewish lifelong anti-racist campaigner in such a viscous way. I considered the attacks racist, and were attacking Jackie in an attempt to undermine her Jewish heritage. I have no idea of Rachel Riley’s heritage, though her Wikipedia entry claims “Riley describes herself as a “non-religious Jew“. Whether she is Jewish or not, I have no idea. My comment was short and to the point.


The next day, 30th March, someone bought this to my attention:


Now, Wikipedia tells us

On 22 January 2019, Riley made a speech at a Westminster reception for the Holocaust Educational Trust and addressed what she described as the “hideous abuse” she had received.”

This is interesting given what happened next, because within hours there were nearly 300 posts on Riley’s feed, and several direct messages to me personally, accusing me of all sorts of things from paedophilia, anti-Semitism, mental retardation, and worst of all, baldness. A large number thought my vegetarianism was typical of someone of my stupidity, but even that apparently didn’t make me as bad as a vegan in the eyes of these people. Many questioned my suitability for being a teacher and a father to two girls. Most of these people had between 2 -150 followers, many were American; I would estimate they were 95% white male. I looked up a number of profiles finding football and Conservatism were their most prominent interests. Not one I could see had any serious political engagement. I can only conjecture what it is that makes Riley so attractive to young white male right wing football fanatics. It certainly isn’t politics or the struggles of the Jewish community.

I started receiving personal messages via twitter of which these three were typical:



As soon as I saw Riley’s tweet, I protected my Twitter account. Several rather unusual people then requested to follow me on Twitter, strange names and no interests in common.

As a member of the website Academia.com I get notified when someone searches for me on Google. Usually about 1 or 2 a week from around the world. Suddenly I was receiving numerous notifications that people had searched for me on Google – I looked at my hits and found this:


Within 6 hours around 30 people from around the UK had searched for me



One even searched out my work email address and sent me this. I have no idea who this is, and he clearly doesn’t know I retired a year ago!


Then on Sunday @GodberLennie added me to a #SocialistSunday and I began receiving follower requests from many on the left.


I also had a lovely message from @LabLeftVoice


I have never been one to be very bothered about getting such on-line abuse. I protected my Tweets for several days, blocked over 100 of the worst bone-heads and carried on with my life.

Then on Tuesday I came across this:


You can see Tom’s blog at:


In it he says:

‘They called me a “twat“, they called me “pathetic“, told me I was “blind“, “crass“, “snide“, “pretentious“, a “bullshitter” and that I was “belittling the fight against antisemitism” by talking about my family history.’

This clearly is disgraceful, and the racist and fascist timbre of many of those who follow Riley is alarming. What it does highlight is the insincerity Riley shows towards any fight for justice or diversity when she appears not only to countenance such vile abuse in her name, but to actively encourage it. Quite why a run of the mill TV presenter feels it appropriate to mobilise the abusive, racist and fulminating right in the fight against anti-Semitism might raise questions about her sincerity.

All this as a result of one tweet, to which Riley could have posted an argument as to why she was neither racist nor anti-Semitic. She chose not to, preferring to mobilize abuse. To me this is sad and sickening, but requires little more than a shrug of the shoulders. It makes me wonder though just what level of abuse people such as Jackie Walker and Chris Williamson, and of course Jeremy Corbyn, have to put up with.