Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Year of the goat (or sheep)

Born in a year of the goat (or sheep), I've looked after them off and on since I was 21 when I spent a summer on a Breton farm belonging to a travelling circus. Later that summer, in a valley near the Gorges du Tarn, I helped usher them into a barn as a storm drummed its way towards us. In spring 2019 I looked after a house in Mallorca with a resident flock of sheep and packs of goats. The sheep were gentle and skittish, the goats wild and fast. I am a wood goat. We like peace. 
Sheepcote valley, just up the hill from me, is a grazing spot for Sussex sheep. They add deep country dreams to this urban fringe, so often parked-on, set alight, dumped on and rutted by tyres. They clear brambles and invite conversation as they turn their heads to the path. Then they turn up in mosaics, on cards, badges, venerated for their stoicism, their place in the hills. 

Monday, January 17, 2022

Ferry and dog


The dog is on a ferry to France, I think, and if this isn't true, I have always associated it with a holiday in Normandy with mum and the children.
I'd booked us into a rambling old mansion outside Le Havre, where I had long conversations about Maupassant and there were calves in a barn. 
On a day out we got lost among the refineries but on another, found St Joseph's Church with its stained glass by Marguerite Huré. It is sometimes described as a kaleidescope. I still remember the light. 
My brother was killed in an accident earlier that summer. In a corner of the attic, where we slept, was a pencil message from a man who hid there during WW2, and survived. 
Perhaps it's that and the stained glass coloured light which have attached themselves to this dog above my head, looking into the distance, which I have my back to. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The shed


The garden shed backing onto the cemetery is just about up but may not have another summer in it. I'll do my best. I'm attached to the graffiti inside, from when the kids were young, for the view through the window, its old CD, model lion, the sun and a lamp for later. 

News from the allotment, two nights running sheds have been attacked. The first night windows were smashed, a strimmer and screwdriver were reported missing, so all a bit petty, the second night people cut a hole in the fence, found lead and copper in a couple of sheds, smashed windows and broke doors. 

It reminded me of the wholesale theft of copper on Madeira Drive a few years ago, and I wonder if it's more proof of far poorer times, the rising value of copper, the Brexit reminded me of the organised theft of plums allotment-wide last summer, driven I suspect by gentrified Brighton and restaurants boasting foraged food. How desperate do we need to be for change?