With a roommate I had a front room, looking onto the sleepy village lane. My roommate maintained a running battle with the early birds.
In the early morning dark, an invisible milkman left bottles on the step. The quick little birds then swooped down to peck holes in the tin-foil caps, and they siphoned off the cream with their narrow beaks. Each morning, the roommate swore at the holes in the milk caps.
That and the heater.
The heater was a kind of vending machine; you had to feed it with coins when you wanted heat. Of course, they had to be just the right coins. Almost never the ones on hand.
It takes a lot of planning to live in England.
At that time, East Grinstead’s High Street was ringed with shops. Each store a specialty store. One for meat, another for fish, yet another for vegetables. Books? Bookstore. Stationery? Stationery store. I believe that the exhaustion this causes is the main reason for Fish and Chips shops.
Contrary to common belief, Fish and Chips shops offer a wide variety of toothsomes. For example, peas. And sausages, and pasties and steak and kidney pie. All served in a cone of newspaper, and a strong cupper tea with milk. To say “Thank you,” you say, “Ta.”
At the restaurant at the Inn, I had dinner one evening with Karen Black, the actress, but it was an embarrassing mistake, as it turned out. However, that’s another story.
During the year I lived there, I saw three or four sunny days.
It is hard to describe the astounding beauty of English countryside on a sunny day. More pointed as so rare. Most days brought an overcast, slate-gray sky, and the air chill and crisp.
On cold days, a ghost visited our cottage. My roommate and I tried to communicate, but with little result. The ghost came and went; raising hackles and then vanishing. One night, it seemed to pass through the wall to outside. I followed, and walked up the lane. The night was deserted, and the air was clear. A half-moon gave some light when I’d passed the last streetlamp.
I failed to find the ghost, but it seemed as if there were a fog lying upon the ground, a couple of feet thick it felt. Yet no fog was there. I seemed to be walking through it, and felt it swirling around my shins, tugging at me, calling out in words too faint to ken.
I walked along the lane, puzzling, and then a realization came.
It was history, lying thick upon the ground. Living history, flowing from deeds long gone, and fading into forget.