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This report is taken from PN Review 255, Volume 47 Number 1, September - October 2020.

Here one begins again
From the Journals, 26 July 1999
R.F. Langley
I will keep something of a journal, though much deters me. We are here looking for a house to buy. Pinfold Hill1 is, subject to contract, sold.2 I am retired. B has left her school-teaching job. We have until October3 to find somewhere to live. Already we have spent a Saturday here, looking at five or six houses, with no luck, and a day in Shropshire looking at two more.

Here we are again in this two-bed guest room,4 the sash window raised six inches, a grey squirrel jerking and flirting on the windowsill outside, house martins shooting across, cool, unshining trees, distant fields, Virginia creeper draping both sides of the glass; pale turquoise, seven o’clock sky with mushroom pink ceiling, B’s words sounding with a factual crack and snap in the stillness, the wood pigeons silent after hours of intense calling - no, here one begins again, ending on the lame raised note. Then another, a higher pitched voice, not so much urgent, or soothing, as mindless.

I awoke with an image of a plastic, transparent jug with thick frothed liquid in it, and I was trying to clear the froth by scraping it up the sides of the vessel with a thin rod – laborious, useless, futilely misjudged task.
Oh dear.

A hollowness. The country has gone foreign. The stillness is one of incredulity. I am cheating everyone by being here. I would much prefer to stay put in the Midlands. This is jeopardy, the good place drained. I can’t separate duty from fear, estimate the real worth ...


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