Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pheasants and sunrise

Ludlow butcher - shooting season
When I was 17 I worked at a chateau in Brittany teaching a 12 year old boy English and helping with domestic work. This Ludlow butcher dunked me momentarily into that Breton summer.
I haven't seen as many dead pheasants since (one of the main family occupations was rearing and selling them).
Ludlow was final stop on a half term road trip that started with Wales for a college open day, Cardiff to see Pete and Alison, then Ludlow to drop in on Jane. The drive towards Llantwit Major was drenched in autumn sun, a Dylan Thomas of a journey filling the car with light. Giya and I clocked up nearly 700 miles.
I'd almost forgotten it was possible to leave the house, I was so tied into post summer cleaning and clearing, waking before dawn and working or reading. There were advantages - autumn sunrise. When I was finishing Commandments I spent the first week of November in Gower. The light was still round and burnished, dawns pink. The drive west and this dawn reminded me I must find time to immerse myself in that way again.
Elms on Hartington Road - another October dawn
Our road trip ended on Friday in time to make a surprise joint 60th birthday in Guildford for Mandy and Nigel. I met them when I started as a trainee on the Surrey Daily Advertiser and needed somewhere to live. The problem was, I was on strike.
Those days seem impossibly long ago, written in black and white pics, re-made in films or novels.  In a review of Made in Dagenham the excellent Telegraph critic Charles Spencer remembers the cameraderie of our long strike as well as the cold on the picket lines.
Mandy and Nigel took me in anyway and I was their lodger for many years. We were all so young.