It was some time after the anorexic girl's birthday party but still a little while before the general election that I went up to the hills to walk. In FACT it was probably only two or three or four days after the party, and I was walking off the effcts of drinking for a weekend, teaching myself to sweat and suffer and drink water and sweat again.
My plan was to take the path onto the low gorsy plateau, then the sheep path, the hare path, the unpath, and finally to sit in some cleft or other, sheltered and hungry, where I could unwrap a healthy lunch. But I had to take a diversion. The first tractor reared up over the brow of the hill, red and belligerent, and threatened to follow the track I was walking on, so I bore left to skirt the hill's base and climb from another angle. I have no problem SHARING the countryside, but I have an aversion to farmers. Farms are fine, but I can't deal with farmers.
Two birds flew up from a tall hedge of trees, or more likely from the field behind the trees. At first I thought they were pigeons, but their plumage was a map of dark and light: lapwings. A pair of starving lapwings, recent migrants. I heard the sound of an engine, too high-pitched to be a tractor, and thousands, tens of thousands of lapwings errupted over the hedge into the sky in a spiral column. I thought at first that it was the birds making the engine noise, but through the cloud of wings there appeared a WW1 biplane. Strung behind it like a liquid tail was a banner. The writing on the banner was Cyrillic, and I could make NO SENSE of it. Lapwings still poured into the air: many were chopped to pieces by the plane's propeller, bits of darkandwhite bird like torn newspaper floated back down to earth. I hid from the rain of broken bloodless creatures in the SHELTER of the hedge and remembered for the first time in years a recurring dream I had had as an adolescent in which a green sports car came towards me. In the car was a man in a suit with a megaphone who had shouted 'WHO WILL YOU VOTE FOR?' The car always ran me over before I could think of an answer.
There is a patch of trees cloaking a pond and beyond the patch there are no more fields only scant grass and gorse and sandstone stumps. I went through the trees with pheasantsounds keeping pace with me on each side, towards and old gate that I knew, but the gate was gone: there was only a barricade of briar, and the pheasantsounds followed me back to the field, and I had to skirt the wood. Here I escaped the second red tractor: a beast with mechanical appendages that looked like the stingers or ovipositors of some malevolent or motherly insect, mantid arms outstretched, bursting its coquelicot skin.
The wooden stakes that are USED as fenceposts are uprooted/deracine/entwurzelt, matchwood on the fields. They are giant retarded leadless pencils marking invisible crosses on the landscape.
Up on the gorseland there is a stone near to where the sick sheep go when their bones feel the need to shed their bag of skin and bleach in the sun. I sat down on the stone and removed from my bag a plastic bottle of vodka and lemonade I had painstakingly prepared. I drank and discovered that the drink had turned into water, so I drank some more to make sure and it was definitely a bottle of water like all the other bottles of water I had consumed that day (there were many) so I drank out of spite until the bottle was finished. I began to compose a letter on the back of a postcard showing a blazing white chalk figure gashed across a hillside. The letter was to te short girl I had met at the anorexic girl's party. There was not much space on the back of the postcard.
dear trudie my toesandankles still hurt from saturday I think the old Port has brought the old Gout back/I cant blame you fr this or anything though im sorry I acted the way i did and so shoud you be perhaps/perhaps you really didnt want to do anything as i didnt and if you were wineless and cold here with me now and with the sheepskeletons you wouldnt be asking me to jump your little bones or maybe.../I'm sorry/I'm sorry if you are hurt and sorry tht you are a catholic and a socialist/either one of these on its own i could deal with but not both/but as is often the case with catholics and socialists you do have great breasts/what am I saying
At this point I must have fallen asleep because in my mind was the vision of an open-topped car coming towards me at speed. The man in the car had a megaphone but it didn't seem to be working. I think he was saying 'What is it that you love,' or 'Where is it that you will go.' As with all dreams it could have been a meaningless amalgamation of the two. Anyway I couldn't answer because the car stopped and the man bundled me into the back seat and I woke up sweating because it is worse to be bound and gagged and thrown into a car than it is to be run over by one.