online: 30 june 2003

29 june 2003 life as we know it

18:09 Beneath a thorn tree to the east of Kenwood. There are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people here today. It is Sunday and an open day for picnics and local music - but the music is over.

I can see the forecast thunder beginning to appear over east London - a thick haze and quite a strong east wind over the city. The sky here is still pale blue but becoming hazy. I'm feeling at ease in this cave-like space beneath thorn and oak leaves and branches, out of the wind and at a distance from the crowded lawns. This is a hay field, more yellow than green, with pink flowers that I don't recognise... I shall be sorry to leave this earth, as we call it. Nearby are some grains looking ripe. A woman walking by smiles when she sees me writing. Her companion looks down as she walks - not many look about. There are dozens of cigarette stubs on the ground. All these things are parts of one picture, or circumstance - the indescribable wholeness and unexpectedness of life.

19:26 Walked across to the west side of the heath - I'm now on the seat overlooking the wooded valley. The trees and grasses look slightly tired - perhaps the fast growth of summer is over? The dock leaf plants have gone to seed. The seasons are quicker than I expect. As I write the wind becomes gusty - the branches of the oak above me are blown about and its leaves brush my head. Is this the beginning of the storm?

I paused on the way back to look up and down the long avenue of limes which join overhead to make it quite dark there in all weathers. To the west I could see a squirrel crossing the road and in the distance a few people approaching. To the east I saw no one and I felt a strangeness in being alone in that interior space - as if something unexpected might happen. But nothing did. I walked back into the world of open skies and familiar paths and well-behaved people, and houses, and cars, and trains, and mobile phones... As I sat waiting for the train a woman caressed the back of a woman sitting next to me - as if to comfort her. This is life, as we know it. Is it unique in the universe?

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