Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Home thoughts from abroad ... not thought twice over.

Enduring once more my weekly traitements thalassothérapeutiques at the hydro, I discovered a fellow-victim to be an Englishwoman and to distract ourselves from our watery exertions we fell to talking of our shared nostalgia for the birdsong of England.

I said I was fond of the stonechat's distinctive cry as it reminded me of Sussex road menders and my home county’s knappers of flint.

The blackbird was my bathing companion’s favourite from her schooldays she declared, then she quoted : 

The nightingale has a lyre of gold,     
    The lark’s is a clarion call,     
And the blackbird plays but a boxwood flute,     
    But I love him best of all.     
The verse was new to me so I murmured, ‘How lovely!’ or some such vapidity but actually I was thinking, ‘But that’s torn it! Didn’t I compose a similar phrase years ago!’

That horrible feeling of déjà vu chilled me more than the thought of the wretched plunge-bath cure I’d next undergo.

So once I returned to my study I referred to my drafts. And there it was! ‘The muted woodwind of pigeons.’ From my text of The Captain’s Runner, my reminiscences of Sussex, seen through the eyes of a seven-year old keeper of rabbits:

The mist still hung above the hummocks of sour cooch grass in the wildernesses which bordered the stream. It was along these banks that the village children went wildfaring for food plants.
    From the other side of a coppice resounded the muted woodwind of pigeons.
    The path was familiar to them and led through plantains to a clearing where a variety of rabbit greens congregated in abundant supply. Along a hedgerow grew the leaves of coltsfoot, dandelion, clover, vetches, yarrow, sow thistle and that astringent tonic, shepherd’s purse; and, nearer the marshy margin of the stream, hogweed and clumps of hazel flourished.  The leaves of oak, elm and maple also abounded.

Oh, the relief. Thanks goodness not every writer sings the same song twice over.

See my thoughts on palimpsestic writings here ...

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