Friday, 11 April 2014

Gentlemen Of The Road

It all comes from work. No getting round that one. The Devil finds work for idle hands. So she must be the Devil because I never say no. I buck against it. Put up barriers. Grudgingly get to it and before I know it something starts to swing. A rhythym gets going and the task becomes an end in itself. Some people pay someone with fancy theories to talk to. Others try pills and potions. But when I get into the swing of it the time just passes. All the old timers come and see me in no particular order. I remember their habits. This one drank two pints every Friday night and left it there. The other one knew more than I would ever know. On certain subjects, that is. Some of them are newcomers like this feller who has a mania for books. Never seen so many books. Brand new paperbacks, his bedroom smells like bookshop. He had a quiet way of talking and it's clear to me now that he was never cut out for what he had to do. Even if he could stand up to some moron who wanted to start a fight in the city Friday night. Let him go now, get back to the job in hand. I never understood a thing about gardening. Whenever I overcame my natural impatience for it and tried to get into the spirit of things, I'm always the one being shouted at because I've killed some prized tendril along with the weeds. But this clearance work's alright once I go through the usual resistance barrier. I've dug deep around the bole of the tree that's in the wrong place for reasons I don't understand. I've dragged the wreckage of paving slabs from the earth. I've used the secateurs – quite good those – on vicious purple brambles that clearly had it coming to them. I've sawn through the hazel branches and stacked them which is apparently a good thing to do. But what bothers me is that all those things we've got rid of now lie like wounded soldiers all over the lawn and it's going to be a big clear up operation and the sun is going down and I'm damn hungry and no-one's thought about dinner. She wants to keep these poles. I know they'll still be here this time next year but to argue is useless so I ignore them. She leans them against the wall, the tops of the sticks making marks against the sky that increasingly gather the shadows of night into themselves. From where I'm standing, they look like the sticks poking out of the top of a wigwam. I sit down now, which is a statement because I know that once I do this I'll never get going again, the warmth and the rhythym leaving my body and the hedge getting very black with these rosy clouds burning behind smoking vapours that will soon drown the whole thing out. 

 Gentlemen of the road welcome this fear. They live up on the drove and make this peculiar light their home. Speak its language and travel further into it because that's what it's for. Ha! these cultivated squares of lawns. These electric lights on formica kitchens where the food gets shaken from boxes as I shake dried biscuits into a cat bowl. We forget these things. But now I've remembered how the wind sounded up there, how it felt as it got inside you and all your ways of thinking, how the cry of a fox cub - the first time you hear it you jump out of your skin, sounds when the lamps of the village shop are long gone - sounds on the ghostly plain with the fire lapping at your booted feet, smoke impregnating your clothes and the only visitors are seen coming from miles off and might not always mean good which is why you live in a tribe believing in the old myth of safety in numbers. I sit out awhile longer. You go on in. Stars are out now, and these little white flowers come out in the hedge and that sky contains enough to keep me out here for hours and the hedges grow taller and the fir trees adjust their angles and the mental GPS starts tracking the territories all around, locates lanes and thoughts. Hold conversations with some of them before bending back to that fire again. Its light in the eyes of the man who sings a song beside it. I shiver, throw down my cigarette and go on in.


  1. Thanks for all this, "the fir trees adjust their angles" everything alive.

    1. Thanks Susan. Free association from the photo. I will probably try more of this kind of thing.



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