online: 11 june 2003

11 june 2003 connective moments

18:35 Beneath a sweet chestnut, pausing without purpose except that of being part of this scene... the evening sun... the screen of leaves and branches through which it shines... the hugeness of the tree trunk (nearly two metres diameter - which means that it could be 200 years old)... the woman walking by on the highest of heels with her arm affectionately round the back of a man who has his arm round her also... and then a couple not speaking - and walking slightly apart.

...I see these things and many more as I sit and look while the moment lasts, with no where else I want to go, no need to move or to think, just the wish to be here in arcadia, artificial as it is in this designed landscape or parkland... this is the Englishness of English art wrote Nikolaus Pevsner, I think he meant the apparent naturalness and the absence of straight lines.

Now there's a cloud between this spot and the sun and the moment is over. I walk on.

On the way I saw wild roses in bloom, in their frailness, and hundreds of tall dog daisies in a field... and I spoke with a man I know who was examining an ornamental spring - he told me that most springs are driven not by gravity, down hill, but by underground water pressure... there are many springs in flat land.

Now I'm writing on the seat in memory of Danny, Tommy and Joe Gibbons who fought in the International Brigade in Spain in 1936-38 and of Pat Dooley who spoke at Parliament Hill from 1901 to 1958. 'Their family proudly remembers'.

I came here for the view, and for the famous seat, and to sit on this little hilltop with several fir trees, and I think a larch...

...As soon as I started writing two young men came and sat nearby and one began drumming rather gently on a hand drum...

...Then an old lady who'd been sitting on a nearby seat walked over to tell she'd found a tortoiseshell butterfly and she took me to look at it but it had flown away. She had very fair skin (as I do) so I asked if she was Celtic and she said she had Scottish ancestors. She didn't approve of the drumming but I said it is music. When they stopped I thanked the man drumming and asked if he has a rhythm in mind or if he makes it up as he goes along. He didn't grasp my way of speaking - he looked as if he came from South East Asia - but he seemed glad to talk... Then a young man came to tell them something, perhaps that music's not permitted, and they went away...

...I look up at the fir trees against the pale blue sky and I watch a tiny cloud that is evaporating - it disappeared before I completed this sentence - in a minute or so.

And now I'm editing this at my computer but my thoughts and even my presence seem to be in these moments on the heath this evening. I can still see those people and those scenes.

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