I dreamed of being in love with an airline pilot. I was younger than I am now. She was tall and full of life. Her father, a short man who had flown jet fighters in the Falklands, came out against the affair. He hated me because I was only a passenger and I had been late on to the plane. My papers weren’t fully in order, which caused one hold up; after which there was something to do with pills, which caused another. I had hurt my left hand climbing. Trying to be cheerful with everyone, I said: “These gritstone abrasions are always slow to heal.” But really, the thumb and part of the hand were missing and the exposed flesh had gone an odd colour. Inside the various cracks and fissures of the wound, so that they looked as if they were interleaved with strips of raw bacon, were strange creamy looking blobs of something. I didn’t want to acknowledge this but in the end I had to look. They were small, slim, white crocuses, growing in tight clusters in my hand. When I woke up it was snowing again.
1491. Oakham, a fictional village just outside Bruton in Somerset, is a dump. Its villagers are a rowdy, bad-luck menagerie of “scrags and outcasts”. A row of poor harvests has devastated their investment in arable farming. Isolated in a bend of the river, they need a bridge to the outside world. The surrounding villages are getting rich on imported sugar and the new sugar products; they’re still getting rich on wool–while even in that established trade Oakham lags technologically, spinning with distaff and spindle, fulling the wool by foot. “There are goats richer than us,” John Reve, the local priest, ruefully admits. Then, a few days before the beginning of Lent, a corpse snags briefly on a fallen tree in the river, then vanishes… Read the rest of my review of Samantha Harvey’s The Western Wind here.
I saw him too! He was with his cat. The cat–it was white–was keeping three feet ahead and about five to the side, in the angle between the wall and the street. I’m glad you saw them, and especially there. I daydream about the light there this time of year. I can’t quite understand why I’m not there now. It’s an enchanted venue more than any other. You hear the music two streets away. You look up and see soot. A church. Trees, feathered against the sky like something real. The world is just completely perfect, completely completed. The minotaur hides in the maze, the maze hides in itself. Look down at your hands, so cold you can hardly open them. Time to go now, it will all be there for you again tomorrow. It’s a noticeboard with just so much of everything written on it, we must somehow preserve that. We’re brave enough but we have to make such tragic assumptions.