Monday, 8 August 2016

At Nymans

Captain Butterfly took us off for a Dragonfly Walk at Nymans on Saturday.  High summer, flowers, butterflies, giant thistles, very very hot, but already with that feeling that summer was about to tip over into Autumn.  A lovely feeling actually - but with a sadness about it because our lives are so short now. And, in my Seventieth year, I am approaching Winter, and leaving Autumn.

They have a great second hand book shop and I found a copy of John Wyndham's "The Chrysalids", and John Wain's "Hurry on Down", which I have been re-reading.

Strange to read them after such a long time, they both capture the Fifties of my childhood in their separate ways.   The Chrysalids captures the fear of this weapon we had just unleashed - the atom bomb, but also - and I had forgotten this - it presents a vision of an Evolutionary future.  And how bleak and meaningless that is - however much the author tries to make it otherwise.

"Hurry on Down" is so Fifties it almost hurts to read it.  I think of my young parents -  how young they were back then - and now they are asleep in the ground of dust.    How quickly it all vanished. And it is a vanished world.

It puts me in mind of this Betjeman poem, of a couple from the previous era:

Baker Street Station Buffet

Early Electric! With what radiant hope
Men formed this many-branched electrolier,
Twisted the flex around the iron rope
And let the dazzling vacuum globes hang clear,
And then with hearts the rich contrivance fill’d
Of copper, beaten by the Bromsgrove Guild.
Early Electric! Sit you down and see,
‘Mid this fine woodwork and a smell of dinner,
A stained-glass windmill and a pot of tea,
And sepia views of leafy lanes in Pinner –
Then visualize, far down the shining lines,
Your parents’ homestead set in murmuring pines.
Smoothly from Harrow, passing Preston Road,
They saw the last green fields and misty sky,
At Neasden watched a workmen’s train unload,
And, with the morning villas sliding by,
They felt so sure on their electric trip
That Youth and Progress were in partnership.
And all that day in murky London Wall
The thought of Ruislip kept him warm inside;
At Farringdon that lunch hour at a stall
He bought a dozen plants of London Pride;
While she, in arc-lit Oxford Street adrift,
Soared through the sales by safe hydraulic lift.
Early Electric! Maybe even here
They met that evening at six-fifteen
Beneath the hearts of this electrolier
And caught the first non-stop to Willesden Green,
Then out and on, through rural Rayner’s Lane
To autumn-scented Middlesex again.
Cancer has killed him. Heart is killing her.
The trees are down. An Odeon flashes fire
Where stood their villa by the murmuring fir
When ” they would for their children’s good conspire. ”
Of their loves and hopes on hurrying feet
Thou art the worn memorial, Baker Street.
John Betjeman

How would I feel now if I did not know the truth - Christianity being called "the way of the truth", and have the hope (its an "undeserved kindness" so we can all hope) of inheriting the earth, as Jesus promised, and living forever on this lovely planet which floats like a blue and white jewel in space in a universe more awe-inspiring and wonderful than we can comprehend.

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