online: 13 december 2005
modified: 13,14 december 2005

13 december 2005 the first day of winter

15:34 All morning i stayed in bed reading books chosen partly by chance - mostly by Stan Brakhage re Maya Deren and other independent film-makers. I also re-read her astonishing theory of film-making and of what i might call constructive non-realism. It reminds me of 'afternature' - perhaps the primary text in softopia and the one that calls most for my attention...

On the way to the heath i pass a memorial to the world wars. This one is in the form of a sandstone clock tower. I walk round it to read the words on its four faces:

- no statues of soldiers, no replicas of weapons or flags, and no mention of the horror. Is that because this memorial is in Golders Green, dwelling place of artists and intellectuals? Fine abstract words instead of realistic or sentimental images. And there was also a bronze sculpture of an open book, perhaps of names of the dead.

On the heath: To me this is the first day of winter. The trees are bare. Cold air, no wind (just occasional slight gusts from the north - with perhaps a slight smell of burning oil from the 2-or-3-day fire at an oil depot 30 km away in Hemel Hempstead - the blast was heard in France and Holland) ... I paused to sit and to record this, the winter stillness, at the viaduct in the southern heath and now i hear the wail of a chain saw in the distance... i wrote that a collection of about 7 slow-moving dogs came up to me one-by-one to be patted and i spoke with the woman whom i call Diana the huntress who has been walking them here for years. She tells me that the exceptionally slow-moving dog that she is waiting for is recovering from a heart attack. It is a beautiful golden sheep dog of some kind. All of them are exceptionally friendly and well-behaved. She tells me the secret - the dog biscuits she carries in her handbag!

The light is fading now so i get up and walk towards the station.

Parliament Hill. Panorama Path. On the way here i tripped on a root half-concealed by leaves and fell gently, almost like a child, and got up immediately - i must look more closely at the ground i am about to step on when walking in poor light!.

Oh i do so like to be back here in places i know and seeing the views i remember. Just now i can see the city lighting-up in the mist and the darkness and i can feel the cold air on my hands as i take my gloves off to write. I like it here in any weather.

The journey back via train through the Hampstead tunnel (3 minutes) and bus (7 minutes) took only about 15 minutes including waits. So i am living nearer (in time) to my former walks than i thought (at least when the train is not late and the roads are not congested).

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