1984

by uzwi

I haven’t posted (& probably won’t, much) because I’m writing. But here’s a bit from a 1984 notebook, which some may recognise in its more written-up form–

We were looking down into a deep Gothic ravine, at the dry bottom of which a well-defined path curved up-hill between overgrown screes. Along the lip of the opposite wall, which was sheer and divided like a layer cake by long horizontal cracks, grew a few thin bent larches and firs. Half a mile or less to the south a high limestone scar rose under the grey sky. Northwards, the path climbed abruptly into the recesses of the cleft and vanished. A light rain had begun to fall; I could hear it pattering quietly on the dead larches, alien and lichenous, scattered over the heaps of scree where some winter wind had flung them.

We walked in silence out of the little bare wood along the cliff edge and stood in the rain to stare at the long featureless green sweeps of moorland stretching north. The head of the ravine was a stony cleft hardly wide enough to admit two people. The path came up to meet us, and we followed it along a small dry valley, sheep scattering in front of us. At the junction of two drystone walls we climbed a stile.

From Trow Gill the path domesticates for two miles, gently losing height amid the lush mixed woodland and cultivated shrubs of the old Farrer estate until it reaches Clapham, a stony, picturesque and prosperous village which once served generations of Farrers and now, squarely astride the A65 Kendal to Keighley road, logically serves tourists and second-homers instead. It’s an attractive enough place in summer, if a little reserved; but it was chilly and almost deserted when we got there. A few dowdy mallards honked from the shallows of the stream. A woman in a head scarf and gumboots stopped gardening to watch us pass, trowel in hand, eyes indifferent. Out on the main road, we waited half an hour for the Kendal bus. When it came it too was empty, but for one bronchitic old man and his sly red-eyed collie.

Reading: Suite Francaise, Irene Nemirovsky, because I so much enjoyed the HE Bates-like atmosphere of Fire in the Blood. Listening to: Bowie, Diamond Dogs.

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