Thursday, July 20, 2006


I'm alone this weekend. All my p e o p l e are away - every last one - mostly at Buddhafield, though one or two at things like stag weekends and Ethiopian nomad conferences and such.

So I am bereft. And I've been missing them, more than I thought I would. I used rarely to miss people - though I'm not sure I ever knew such extraordinary and strange ones as these. Perhaps I'm changing, becoming more peoply, less sharp around the edges.

Today, alone, I set out in search of a cool, green, quiet spot to sit and read. I trudged sweatily up to the top of the cemetery. The cool thing didn't work out particularly - it just hasn't been that kind of a day - but green it certainly was, and quiet. The kind of quiet that includes the snuffles of unseen creatures, the yaffling of green woodies and the chipping of wrens. Brighton's Victorian Extra-Mural Cemetery is a beautifully-kept place: perfectly balanced between manicured and wild. And it seems to me to have more life in it than anywhere else in the city.

I watched a fox wrap itself lovingly (or itchingly) around the slim base of a cherry tree. A squirrel crept towards me, its eyes fixed on mine, grabbed the apple core I'd thrown into the bush and scuttled up to nibble it carefully on a low branch while long-tailed tits sung and sparkled around it like angels. Not a jot was wasted or dropped until the end, and I swear it used the bare stalk to clean its teeth. An ant might come across that, carry it away to clean off any remaining sweet juices; then some lignolytic community would move in...

Cemeteries are good for seeing the cycles of nature. Atoms of Brighton people of ages past, singing and sparkling, creeping up for apple-cores, wrapping themselves around cherry trees.


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