I have guests coming again, all the way from the south, so obviously this means more domestic reorganisation (I love the hopeful re there, as if anything had been organised in the first place). Obviously this also means no time for a blog. So sorry about that.
As I was rummaging through the second spare room, which is essentially a tiny box room with a single bed in it on which everything gets dumped, sweeping up piles of papers and old laundry bags, I found this picture. It is of my friend The Expatriate. She and I met in our first term at Christ Church and we’ve been best friends ever since. She’s been through it a bit, one way and another, but you can see from her smile that she has a fighting spirit. Even though she now lives in Santa Monica, she is a countrywoman to her bones, and she has the strength of the good earth in her.
I remember that day. We’d gone to Hay on Wye, and a wonderful man called Roger Deakin had come to talk about his book on swimming Britain’s wild waters. Roger was so stitched into the earth that I need a new word for countryman. His house in Suffolk looked as if it had grown naturally out of the land it stood on, and was at one with the trees around it. There was wood everywhere, I remember, and he welcomed in all small woodland creatures with a gentle delight. (No reorganisation for guests for him.) After the talk on his book, he invited everyone to come for a swim in the river. Some brave brawny fellows stripped off and leapt in, with quite a lot of macho display, and then a chorus of ahs at the sudden cold, and that is why my lovely friend is laughing her lovely laugh.
This is photographed from the original, which is why the quality is not that good, but you can see the loveliness.
Roger Deakin died a few years ago, but I think of him often, even though he was not an intimate, but the friend of a great friend. He is one of those remarkable people who stay vivid in the mind. His book on swimming is wonderful, but if you want the full enchantment, his book on trees is his masterpiece.