- A dark valley that retains a near perfect stillness against the quick-moving clouds.
- Winter has stripped the land of any dignity.
- A lattice of dry-stone wall across the hills.
- Drizzle, gathering in huge drops; poised beneath strips of fencing, and from the tips of trees.
- Disused barns, or sheds, or storehouses, their roof tiles blighted by lichens, nature reclaiming it.
- The stark cry of a bird.
- On the hillside: headlights from a car navigating the awkward terrain. You feel suddenly vulnerable at this invasion of the stillness.
- The tops of hills surrendered to the clouds.
- Silhouettes of trees expose birds’ nests.
- A chill and loud wind.
Savernake Forest, just outside of Marlborough. November. The colour becomes intense, the light always more hazy because of the height of the sun. What a combination.
Wind runs through channels here, along the straight paths, gathering momentum, and it dominates your stride. Surprisingly, there is next to no one around; you would have thought better of people, especially at this time of year.
Some trees have given up their leaves early. Others hang on to them, greedy, still green and there is an air or arrogance about them. It’s usually the bigger ones, the rare species of oak.
The carnage is heaped everywhere, a thousand shades between red and green as if the land is flooded with them. A freak Autumn tide. A dog runs by, followed by a couple of pups. The whole family are out, bursting into bushes, tearing up the leaves. If it wasn’t for your dignity, you’d be joining them.
You appreciate the cycles of the earth a little more now. You think maybe there’s something inherently spiritual about the landscape in the south west. Maybe the druids are on to something. The city doesn’t look so big any more.
Another reason that DeLillo is the finest writer alive. I might do more of these.
They wrote for roughly twenty minutes and then each, in turn, read aloud what he or she had written. Sometimes it scared her, the first signs of halting response, the losses and failings, the grim prefigurings that issued now and then from a mind beginning to slide away from the adhesive friction that makes an individual possible.”
From Falling Man.
How he pin-points part of the human condition, and the fragility of the human spirit, in one little riff like this is something he does so well.
5am. It always amazes you just how many people are up, which is a clear sign you’re not used to early mornings. They’re not even bleary eyed. They walk with an disarming purpose.
Then the train out into the country—a sheen of fog mixes with the haze of the rising sun, creating an uncertainty on the landscape. You could now be anywhere in this light, and million possibilities cross your mind, then before too soon you crash into the heavy discoloured brick of the city, every face looking anywhere but at you, every figure suited and flowing with a liquid purpose amongst the crowd. Only your stillness surprises you.
The flight, always the same, but always just as humbling as you’re hurtled through the cloud-base, and even as you look at it you think it strange, that you’re witnessing the dawn of some new physics. Everything looks the same from a certain height, even industrial sites possess a strange poetry to their intense shapes on the landscape, becoming something natural themselves.
The coastline, then nothing but the sea.
A strange mixture of old and new. Chrome, brass and leather-trimmed bistro bars stand alongside shabby collectible shops. Old ladies prefer the company of old ladies in tea rooms with steamed up windows, and that haven’t been decorated in years. Walkers stride through traffic with a nonchalance and purpose of street kids in Delhi or Mumbai. There are middle-aged women here uncertain how to be fashionable, too far away from the guidance of city girls. People crane their necks to read the menus in shop windows. There is plenty of selection these days. New furniture shops with shapes and textures that seem unlikely in a dale. Consumerim has arrived here, finally, and the town seems unsure how it should react.