Upon leaving the cobwebby past of Paglesham along with its glorious pub behind, I take the same route back that I have come. It suddenly occurs to me that I have neglected to tell you all about two other points of interest: Charles Darwin's ship, HMS Beagle, is forever trapped and preserved beneath the waters of the River Roach in a cloying mud coffin. It has been left there so as to not disturb it or destroy any part of it. Evidence, if evidence is required that sometimes we Brits take our history for granted. I strongly doubt that our cousins across the pond are so libertine with their past.
The other little fact/myth that I forgot surrounds the King I mentioned in my first post; King Canute. The name was originally pronounced Cnut and he was believed to have, by his subjects, magical powers. In an attempt to disprove this nonesense, Canute had a bunch of his people carry him to the waters edge where upon he attempted to stop the tide from coming in. Needless to say it didn't work and he had this to say to his subjects: "Let all men know how empty and worthless is the power of kings, for there is none worthy of the name, but He whom heaven, earth, and sea obey by eternal laws."As I march along, Tom Waitts comes to my mind. I have no idea why. He is not English and his music is very much of the America I love and not the one presented by Hollywood: dark bluesy bars filled with heavy smoke clouds; dank, deep everglades; spirtual churches filled with ebullient negroes praising God (I am a non believer) in a way I imgine God would like with a lusty reverence; trolley buses rattling up and down the humps and bumps of California; a New York City with steam rising from crusty manhole covers. A United States as presented by the legend of Americans - Clint Eastwood. A little off kilter and still living the life of freedoms dream.
I start singing a Lilly Allen song to bring me back to the here and now and this England, this Essex.Having touched upon Canewdon and Paglesham I decide now to venture towards Rochford going via Stambridge. This will take me, in a very convoluted way, back to my home in Ashingdon. The walk takes me across country and past a bus shelter where two teenage lovers haunt the shadows snogging each other silly. This is probably the self same site of the original bus shelter where perhaps their grandparents did their courting. Stambridge has a pub, two in fact, The Royal Oak and The Cherry Tree and a church but also a small fishing lake where young and old lads take their rods, stand out in all weathers waiting for a nibble from a passing carp. Damn weird hobby if you ask me but I guess it takes all sorts to make a world.
Henry VIII may have ridden down this road but of course I have no way of knowing that. He certainly spent a lot of time in and around here though but then again of course he would. Anne Boleyn lived here, or rather in Rochford. Her house, if you can call a place with a moat a house, is still standing where it was in fifteen something or other. She gave him the greatest Queen England has ever seen but she didn't give him a son. She lost her head and we gained an Empire. Anyway, not sure that the wife of Henry VIII ever really lived in Essex but there is a 'house' (tudor) with a moat that dates back to the 1500's.
Funny how your mind starts to work as you walk. Words come rushing in when you least expect them to and when least prepared. A haste of ideas flood in and so I stop, pull out a notebook, find somewhere to sit and begin to write. Not sure if this is for the Happy Families (originally Twist story) or something else. It might need revisiting and some editing but these are the 'rough' notes wot I writ!The conversation was all sharp angles and dull shapes; oblique corners surrounded by fractious squares. The meal reflected the mood: cheap without commitment; a platter of nondescript flavours awash with a cloying sauce of self pity.
Time was spent digging for sufficient words to find; an unwholesome lack of natural responses that left empty silences; an embarrassment for fools, for who isn’t a fool when presented with this absolute decay and does nothing to repair it?
I stand equally guilty. Incapable of the strength required not to over react at the first given opportunity. I flare with accustomed indignation that is both self righteous and fruitless. The wise man would walk away to allow calm to descend but I leap in with teeth bared, fists flailing and my heavy boots kicking.
There was no resolution to the issues we faced just an expression of loss of trust.
The mountain we face is a veritable K2 and we lack Sherpa’s or anyone else’s help. It is only us and we both are unsure, and afraid, that the first step we take will throw us forever more over the edge.
The thoughts gather ink on my pad and bring to mind another song and another singer: "The Things I do" by Teddy Thompson...
"It's getting harder and harder to live with myself
I dismiss my morbid humour, packing it off in a stained suitcase called 'reflections' and plod on. Next stop Rochford market town.
all words and art are copyright © of C.J. Duffy.