Somerset

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The wind has changed. It’s suddenly cooler – Autumnal – and plays havoc with the trees. Up in the Blackdowns it sends low, flat clouds – some vast – flying across the hills in one continuous line. The consistency of their movement is fearsome somehow. I was up there. Alone. Alone and in a whirl.

Things have been strange recently. Going back to work has brought back the nerves – my old adversary – my enemy within, my enemy which IS me. I’ve learnt to live with it especially as it comes and goes and can be gone sometimes for months. This isn’t new – in fact it goes back longer than I want to admit. But the last week it has gained more strength, more of an ability to grip me and change me, part physical, part mood. Sometimes I dream of ripping it out of inside me – an imaginary organ, some remnant from our ancestors left behind (this is partly true) and working haphazardly, whirring away inside me, waiting to be removed and discarded in the surgical tray. Still buzzing away like a motor in a model plane.

On Saturday I was in town trying to get my flat sorted. The tenant has trashed it again (he’s gone). Walking around Homebase I thought I was going to break. All I could see was rows of paint when all I wanted was cleaning products. This was enough. I felt it rising up in my chest. I can feel now the pain in my head and throat and the stinging in my eyes. And I finally found the dusters and bucket and cleaning liquids but it had been too hard. That’s never happened before.

And then Monday back at work really spun me. And yesterday, up there, I thought it was like a kind of mania. I’ve heard of this. People experience huge changes in emotion and energy levels, not from depression necessarily but from something you wouldn’t expect like an overactive thyroid. Might stress do the same? I’ve had intense experiences outside before but this was something bizarre. It might be religious. I had a sensation of the overpowering oldness of the world – it makes me reel and choke with emotion, the tears starting to form pools in my eyes. At the beauty of it and the sadness of that beauty. Why? I don’t know.

Then, a sense of total immersion in the landscape. Noone but me. Just me. And how neat. Just me and the trees and the clouds and the sheep and the rolling hills. A red lorry passes at a 45 degree angle sliding up between trees, like a toy. And the clouds continue to cruise by in lines. A vast black mass in the West looms closer to me and I turn my back on it almost genuinely afraid of it and curse myself for not bringing the anorak. Don’t get angry, I tell myself. Not again. And, please, not here. I try to keep ahead of it, every minute expecting to be soaked. And then as I climb back up the hill, up the lane I let it go and I don’t care. I want to be soaked. I want to be immersed, head bowed in the rain. Like Roy in Bladerunner. I walk hands held palms forward – entirely lost in the moments. Time has stretched and the place is no longer the place it was a minute ago. It is somewhere from a long, long time ago. I stop and stare at a cloud for a minute but it could be an hour and it’s not a cloud but a god whispering.  In that moment I could be a wild animal in its terrain – and such sad joy like a fire in the middle of my heart.

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