On a walk round the periphery of The Common, I hear thumping footsteps behind me, and aggressive panting. It is a man running up the sloping path where I am walking. I step out of the way as I would for tractor. He is running rather than jogging. Is he the same man whom I saw timing himself as he ran round The Grove a few weeks ago? It could be. When he reaches the top of the slope he consults his watch as he pauses for breath and leans forward to support himself against a signpost. There can't be many men around here who run full out and time themselves at intervals. About 20 minutes later in another part of The Common, there he is again, consulting his watch. He runs towards me this time, still panting, but as we are on the level, the noise, as he thuds past, is gentler and less threatening.
As I pass the window of the specialist Aviation Bookshop in Vale Road, I am reminded of Barrett Bonden's Works Well blog, where he referred the other day to The Lancaster World War 2 bomber. There in the window is a book with a cut away drawing of a Lancaster on the cover. It is called Avro Lancaster 1941 Onwards. Owners Workshop Manual. My fascination with aeroplanes faded long ago, so I did not enter the shop, nor have I have ever been inside. But I confess to a feeling of regret particularly when I saw, in another window, several Airfix kits - including a Heinkel HZ 177 and a P 38F Lightening, in their original boxes.
You talk about the sense of place that has emerged, unbidden, from your blog and I agree. Without explanation references are made to The Grove and The Common and their familiarity (possibly enhanced by the neutrality of their titles and the addition of the definite article) grows; I can't envisage them but the names have now assumed the importance of characters in a novel. So a tiny frisson occurred when you mentioned Vale Road, a new character (or at least less well-mentioned) which I must now incorporate in the list. I have of course been to Tunbridge Wells but a new version of it is slowly creating itself. A cant reaction would be to call it a virtual version but I reject this. I am not tempted to call the Nottingham in "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning" virtual; rather a written version or Alan Sllitoe's version and so what I am seeing is Plutarch's TW.
I don't on the whole buy coffee table books but the Lancaster Owners Workshop Manual does tempt me. Leaving it around, visible in the living room, would force a question out of the most blasé guest.
The idea of sense of place started for me when I read a book of poems called Landing Lights, by Don Patterson. Some of the poems are set in the Scottish Highlands. Wordsworth and Coleridge both inform their poems with a sense of space. Tunbridge Wells is a bit tame, I suppose, beside such examples.
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