e woke from his dream
in a car, driving too fast on a country road. In hisdreaming eye he sees it, as if from above, a postbox red Mini flashingdown a tunnel of spring green trees like a flame up a gunpowder trail.At once he knows, though he doesn’t know why, that the driver is intent onself destruction. He doesn’t dare look around or even glimpse the face at thewheel. But senses it; a furious concentration of mad grimace.So he concentrates furiously as well. Squinting ahead as shadows and lightstrobe up the windshield. Willing the wheels to hold the curve. And, in a voice assoft and deliberate as snailslime, he begins to talk.
I must have fallen asleep.
I just woke up. I’ve no idea where we’re going.
Are we late?
He feels the silence close around his question, then shift, become palpable; thetension coils. ‘No direct questions’, he thinks. ‘Keep it light, keep it calm, keep iteasy’. He rolls the mantra round, reaching for a stillpoint, aware also that hisrising panic has begun to muffle the sounds of the road. Light and shade flicker.
It’s a lovely day!
he says loudly, pushing the silence away. He relaxes his legs out into the footwell.‘Look calm, be calm’ he thinks. Funny how that never works. He tries a smile.‘Enjoy yourself’ he thinks. An afternoon jape. Harmless fun. ‘But I never likedfun.’ he thinks, ‘Specially not when someone else’s hands are at the wheel.’
I was brought up in the country actually. Live in London now.But, Imiss it sometimes, the countryside, the scenery.Funny that we call it scenery... like it’s a stage set, like a theatre.Like it’s not really real... Just put up for visitors.like no-one actually lives here.’Like it’s not really there when we’m not there.Do you get that?
He winces as he breaks his own rule and the question uncoils into space.
he says, snatching it back.
We think the country doesn’t really exist when we’re not looking at it.But really, it’s the other way round. isn’t it
Maybe when we go back to the cities the land forgets about us.We’re the ghosts aren’t we. Mayflies, here for a moment, gone for good.You know, to a mayfly, apparently,an ocean wave seems as fixed and immutable as a mountain.
Now, suddenly, the car is off the road and in his dreaming eye he sees themracing out across a baize green field so flat and sharp against the sky it looks likepaint. In the swell of the land beneath them and the sharp line ahead he knows,without a doubt, that this high pasture ends abruptly in a precipice.Dreaming while under the influence