A bike ride. Bright sun. A woman talking to someone in her front garden. A timeless moment. I would like to cycle on but I haven’t allowed time to do that at the moment. That woman, in her garden. In the sun. What is her story? This moment is for ever.
We’ve been trying to sort things out, here in Oxfordshire. It’s very difficult, if not impossible. Analogies which occur to me are emptying the ocean with a toy bucket, or building sand castles against the incoming tide.
We’re making room for another book case. But first, let’s see whether we need all the books we have already. But when is a book not just a book but a souvenir? In our middle years Mrs Llew and I spent many weekends visiting cathedral towns.
The first one we visited was Salisbury. Tonight we came across guidebooks and maps of that city. They are worn, these books, and out of date. Not the cathedral though. That’s for ever. It can’t ever be out of date. And we recalled, as we explored the piles of books, spread across the floor, a March evening.
There was quite a heavy mist. It was just Springtime but chill. We set out from our hotel – where the hot water took several minutes to flow from its cistern to our bath – and found the Cathedral Close. We saw a figure ahead of us, barely discernable in the mist. As we got closer we saw it was a sculpture of the Virgin Mary. It is the ‘Walking Madonna’ by Elizabeth Frink. We were quite alone, on the grass, with the Cathedral no more than a great shadow ahead of us.
Its doors were open and we went in. A lone guardian of the place welcomed us and took us to the cloisters where he showed us a great tree in a quadrangle. As I recall, it was massive, and majestic. In the darkness and the mist it was discernable because of the pale glow of a floodlight somewhere nearby.
On the way back to the hotel we saw an otter – the first and last time I have seen one. Lithe and swift in a foaming weir.