And now in memory the tree-deep valley is to my left and there is a less deep one on my right as i walk on the ridge that leads to the high fences protecting some modern houses that border the wood. A place where i'd like to live.
I'm now descending on a steep path, to a road that divides Sandy Heath from the Heath Extension and as i write of this region i imagine being in the strange vision of afterlife described in Childermass by Wyndham Lewis:
The city lies in a plain, ornamented with mountains. These appear as a fringe of crystals to the heavenly north.*
...this description does not in the least resemble my remembered walk in the woods but nevertheless both places seem heavenly, permanent moments in a literary reality perhaps more real (or more human?) than the actual walking.
I sit for a minute or two on a seat by a small pond half overgrown by bullrushes with tall cylindrical seed capsules and pale dry leaves that have died and become bent. I get up and continue walking across playing fields until i reach the Great Wall - a long barrier of dark red brickwork with occasional doorways and steep-roofed towers reminiscent of medieval towns in Germany and of the realised dreams of William Morris and John Ruskin, in whose imaginations i or we live, at least when we visit this Hampstead Garden Suburb if not when we encounter the semi-detached suburbia of most of Britain now. The city wall.
Do i have to describe shopping, in a health food shop, a greengrocer's, and a supermarket? My memory is of suspended living - as if the time spent doing the work of a consumer was a not-so-brief period subtracted from life in order to keep down cost - though the 25 or so pounds (35 euros) paid for 15 or so items seems expensive indeed. I remember when a bag of groceries cost about 2 pounds and now, 30 years later, it costs about 20.
And now, resting in physical comfort while i wrote or concocted these memories... (semi-fictional and fragmentary approximations to the indescribable whole of what happened)... i cease this bit of writing and contemplate the egg pie that i intend to cook and eat while listening to the news. The news.
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