10.05 In the car. My legs encased in heavy denier black stockings. I say, “like sausages”; Xander says, “not like sausages.” Again the day cannot decide if it’s hot or cold, and I will, as the hours pass, often remove and then replace these heavy denier black stockings.
10.39 Xander consumes an enormous, delicious, dripping bacon-and-egg bap. I salivate and steal bites, and feel my own breakfast of sugary cereal to have been woefully inadequate.
11.07 Hugh rolls through the fair in his red truck, closely followed by that chip-shop smell which inevitably says, “I’m saving the world.” Hi Ben, he says. Hi Hugh, Ben says, mid-song. Everybody watches him glide down the hill, and then the toddlers re-commence their dancing, the babies their smiling and shouting, the adults their various whiling-away-the-hours-till-cider-time activities. The more hardcore, of course, already have a pint in hand.
12.56 A spider-bite. An idle thought of serpents and adders. A bluebottle on my blue dress. I read British Poetry Sine 1945, my legs gathering warmth from the sun. Half-seen smiles unmet like mist/maybe the touch of a hand/resembles dew. The hungry insects have turned a leaf to lace. Thin mums with McClaren prams promenade back and forth on the grass and girls bare their shoulders, their skinny bra straps showing, and children swing their hips to the music. A brother and sister wrestle in a pool of shade. If they were any older it would be inappropriate.
13.41 I hum to myself. Is singing merely an act of vanity? Well, if it is, then long live vanity! I also sit in a field above the festival site. It’s part of the extended nature walk; this is clever of them (that magic “them” who organized it all), for there is nothing one needs more at a festival, even a pleasant and tame one like this, than the chance, occasionally, to escape from the masses and lie in an open meadow with no one else about.
13.52 I return to the festival site. Xander and I share a scone, with jam and cream. God bless strawberry jam and all the different varieties…A wasp tries to commit suicide in the jam, but fails and flies away.
14.15 We watch the ferret races. Which really means this: we watch one ferret make its lazy way to the end of a very short course while the other two sniff around at the starting gate and refuse to move.
15.19 A nap in the grass. Sun, wind, and the occasional smell of sulfur, which I later learn is actually sewage being filtered through nearby reeds.
17.02 They’re taking down the festival now.
17.08 A twelve-year-old girl wearing muddy white socks tells Ben he smells, and can I borrow your guitar? Her friend takes Ben’s business card. “Why do you hate mornings?” she wants to know. We can’t think of a decent answer, though “Em’s homemade cider” comes to mind.
18.33 In Axminster and environs, we come across no fewer than six banks and no open shops. One restaurant also sells DVDs; it’s called Route 66: True American Spirit. We see almost no one else about, and the shelves of the petrol station we dip into are bare. The Chinese takeout gives off a sickly glow and the pubs with their heavy lidded eyes yawn, dispel a lonely customer, take an even lonelier one in. Ah, these half-dead English towns.
18.49 We stop for a pair of very fat turkeys, who cross the lane at a pace somewhere between glacial and leisurely. Through a gap in the hedge I see a rope swing, a rusty fence. We pass a blacksmith’s cabin. I stare at the pink of my own fingers as they squeeze the pen and concentrate.
18.51 Now a horseback rider on her phone passes us by. (I mean that she is both on her phone and on her horse). And the hedges open up to reveal a sky ripe for stars. I feel the cardboard blue of my notebook under my thumb.