Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sunday 4th February 1934

Across the Medes in the blue evening. The view seems spacious now, but when I first came, it seemed close. A matter of comparison. Climbed Coopers Hill and then along the devious, silly roads around Englefield Green. A field footpath. I knew not where. Half light of dusk. Solitude is sometimes wonderful. There was an alluring wood, fenced by iron railings. A gate! But it was locked.

Came to a stile and because the quietness was precious, I sat here, rolled a cigarette and smoked it. Went on: another gate in a thick hedge, which opened at my touch! Cautiously I stepped through and found myself in a wood of bare saplings. Was it part of a garden? A path beckoned: I went into the wood. Thick, impenetrable Christmas trees on either side of the winding path. Where was I? All seemed unreal.

I was surely in private ground, it was so well cultivated. Came to a small unlighted house, turned back into the woods again. A strange, still pool in the semi-darkness. Two white swans. Motionless and silent. Garden of mystery. I found the gate again, passed through and went along to the road. Met nobody, though I passed several houses. I fancied I’d died as I smoked at the stile and this was the beginning of Death – or Life. Then I came upon a public house, “The Sun” and a car passed. Still in strange country. Quite dark. The spell broke gradually as I drew nearer the main road with it’s traffic.

A man with a red nose asked me if this was Windsor, adding that he had to walk there, “unfortunately”. Directed him. Later ran back to lend him some money for bus fare. Saw him waiting outside a front door for sometime. Came away and entered the next garden but returned almost at once. I hardened my heart and came back to digs!

(1982: Memory is so perverse, so inconsequent. I remember nothing of the strange garden or my thoughts about it; I remember nothing of the red-nosed man: yet I recall vividly how I sat on that stile! The tobacco I rolled was Will’s Gold Flake (I do not think they normally made cigarette tobacco for rolling) and the packet was yellow, identical to the ready made cigarette packet which was famous, at that period and may be so today.)

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