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This report is taken from PN Review 148, Volume 29 Number 2, November - December 2002.

From a Journal R.F. Langley

August 1992

So long since I wrote. A year. Who cares? What then? Little. Not really any better. No change after the journeying. Four of my department ill and off. New syllabus not even published yet. And so on. Early morning waking most of the time, and violent annoyances.

8pm. Lime blossom scent. Westhall church. Close the door. Your ears are switched off. Low sun coming through the west window reaches all along the nave north wall, gold, pinker on the rectangle of older plaster with the St Christopher, full of sheavings and separatings, pinchings and loosenings, silent stirrings of light. The chancel beyond is pale green, not penetrated, motionless. Also the Bohun aisle, bone-white, uncaught. Not a single fidget. Gold and green and bone. What is it, this evening, is this: glorious. Glories. Aureoles split and stretched and quivered, quivering. In a hush which lifts it beyond all normal uses, messages, instructions. The two white-haired women and elderly man here, were wanting to know about horned Moses, about how a blind arcade could be blind with a window through it, about why there is panelling on the wall under the window by the pulpit. Delightful to find people engaged in such investigation, with a mind to it, placing and stating here, where, as they say, it seems so remote you feel you have found it. But the glory is not in these quibbling sorties, however innocent and however much a way of paying tribute to what is. The unspeakable standing of silence, stillness, insistent gentle, combing gold, set in dead white and cooled-out limegreen. And the sweet smell of lime scent outside, carried across the gate by the quiet wind. Astoundingly full, undiminished, attending to the changes of light through every day, never losing connection with the whole world under the sky, but never less than complete, as it is now, and now, and always for hundreds of years. Like the grass heads, tall, seeded, between me and the dropping sun, as I go back across the fields by the dry brook. They sway, lissom, springy, and carry heads of all I've ever seen of God's fire. Bending banks of them along the edges of the corn or the stubble, curving up higher than the nettles. But, simultaneously, nowhere at all is so start as just matter, as is uncommented Westhall. Dried. Shrunk back into itself. Juiceless. A genuine fright, as a touch long ago, and dry stone, the brown with no red in it, the powdery, the bat droppings in their collection, each on its shadow, all unmassaged, untickled by fingers, out there in unmoved air, and claiming your hands and feet as stuff, as they are themselves, as fine dirt. A skull in your head, knocked if tapped, under a certain covering of skin. The utter loneliness of all things in the extensions of time and space, left and left and altogether left, so that even the fragment of freestone you take with you in the glove compartment, on the dashboard ledge by the steering wheel, means that the journeyings of the car never take place, since all place is intraversable, still, in the speeding that can't be taking it away. The car stops in the stone. The stone stops in the car. And the grass stems bend so much, if you feel them, then snap. You know the exact dry feel of that snap. Flesh is as grass. Not merely in the analogy of gathered in and burned, simply as matter of touch, outstoodness, there in the pointless points, the weight of trouble, constant ending and left behind. Grass heads burn, lucent, constant, lovely, silvergold sprays of thin, ranged flecks of flame, like water halted, but are clusters of husks on tense shafts, hair thin springing, which, when you touch, you have not touched, because their thinginess is so dense, so alien that, though it dents your fingertips, the dent takes the fingertips away from you, into the place beyond, and your knuckles and wrists, and the rounded bones in your elbows, in the meat of your arms, all at risk, half gone too... as the bent stem stiffens and snaps. The walk. Across four fields, along the choked stream, to St Andrews. The supernatural suggestion, gross as a real goblin, in the stationary bushes, the edgeless blandishment of summer night, the sudden click of the meter, or cluck of the fridge, the bony face of a little old man peering over a bench end, child height. But the stubble cracks under foot, hard in its snap, dusty in cloudy, warm scent. The late butterfly is whiter than normal, slighter, has settled, has green blurred veins under the wings, a green-veined white, and its paleness spreads, helped by the blue of a holly-blue, also out late, flitting by, quickly done, into the empty paleness of the Bohun aisle, tall, whitewashed, dirty, cobwebbed, full of dead touches, yet here, still. Heartstopping littleness of the huge space. The unreasonable strength of everything which is nothing more. The Virgin's flask. The glass carafe. Precious free electricity, one coin to light every window ever. The rigid night.

This report is taken from PN Review 148, Volume 29 Number 2, November - December 2002.

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