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Archive for the ‘Bylaugh’ Category

My brain ticked fast to work out what was going on, but it did not come up with an answer!  The only similar experience I had ever had like this was a few years before.  I was getting off a bus with a load of other people in (what was then called) Rhodesia in Africa.  The sun had dimmed like this and all the birds and insects in the nearby forest went silent – yet the sky was cloudless.  I had been a little more prepared on that occasion.  Someone had told me a week beforehand that a partial eclipse of the sun was going to take place on that day at 1.20pm in the afternoon – in the heat of the African day.  I had actually forgotten the prediction in the interim – but remembered as soon as I felt the dramatic drop in the mid-day heat.  I connected the ideas pretty quickly and once I explained the phenomenon to those around me, we all felt better.  There was a scientific explanation!  The most vivid memory was at the height of the partial eclipse – when the sun had made tens of thousands of crescent-shaped moons on the ground.  The leaves from the forest had acted like pinhole cameras – letting through just enough light to create a collage of tiny moon shapes.  Fifteen minutes later things were back to normal and all the birds and insects were back chattering at their normal volume of forest babble.  But now was different.  There were no birds and insects going silent……and in any case there was a lot more noise than before – not less.  Nor had there been any predictions of eclipses of the sun in the last few weeks.  I had studied science.  I needed to know what was going on!  But this time I could could find no easy explanation.

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And then the noise started.  It sounded like a frenetic buzzing coming from the sun.   I looked at my sister in sheer amazement.  She looked back.  We were used to the American air force jets buzzing about overhead.  The local air force base often used the surrounding countryside as a mock war-zone.  They flew particularly low.  No one complained any more.  It was part of the way of life that went with living on the largest aircraft carrier in the world.  The American war-machine had used the English countryside as a launch-pad for nearly a hundred years and the low-flying aircraft was some sort of “tax we paid for America to police the rest of the world”, or something like that.  Dad certainly wasn’t the one to ask controversial questions on that subject, but he was proud about paying the tax.  Yet this noise wasn’t like an aircraft.  It was much closer.  It was more overwhelming in its intensity.  It was gentler.  It was a frenetic buzzing noise and not a roaring jet engine.  And it came at the same time as the dimming of late afternoon sun.

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Spot-Dark

For about second (although it seemed like several) the darkening sun and the slowness of time was mesmerising.  The haze still hung in the valley below.  The willow still breathed not a whisper.   I looked down the field to the trees near the road to see if there were any long shadows there.  There weren’t.  The dimming seemed quite local.  Almost as if there was a sharp stab of “dark light” projecting itself at my sister and me.  As if we had been caught in some sort of spot-light which was really a “spot-dark” (if such a word exists).

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Cakes for Tea?

Mole trapping is not really a team sport and we soon became bored looking at Dad’s intensive trapping routines.  So we went round to the willow tree to see if there was anything interesting going on there.  Maybe Mum had made some cakes for tea and had put them out early.  It was nearly 4 o’clock, so it was a fairly good bet.  Then it happened.  The sky suddenly went dark.  It was as if the sun had been switched off.  I looked at my sister.  She looked at me.  It was quite extra-ordinary. Magical.  Momentarily unexplainable.  For just a instant we gazed at the sun in a sense of awe.  Just as our ancestors must have felt before the scientific age and an understanding of cosmic happenings – when mysteries happened and there was no explanation.  Just bemused wonderment, later explained-away by an “Act of God”.  Another strange thing happened whilst the sun dimmed.  Time somehow stood still.  It was similar to the experience that one gets if one is in an accident.  Time slows down and you become much more aware of everything that is going on around you.  It was as if we were in an art gallery and had been studying a painting for about twenty minutes and then had all the senses, emotions and interpretations concentrated into one second of intensive experience.

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Moles and Mines

It was one of those hot, hazy summer days.  The holidays seemed to have gone on for weeks.  The willow in the garden was silent.  Normally the willow rustled in a kind whisper from the slightest breeze.  But today it was completely still.  The air across the valley to Bylaugh hung like a hazy lazy mist in tune with the lethargy of all the other creatures in the garden. We had been outside helping Dad with his mole traps.  He was as determined as any trapper with a near-religious focus combined with an intensive routine that you often find with ex-Military men.  The moles had been a problem for several years and Dad had just about mastered the art of trapping them.  It reminded him of the war in Italy when he had to clear a minefield at the age of nineteen.  It was a passion of his and each day he tried slightly different techniques which he logged in his mole-catching diary.  This activity filled his afternoons after he had taken his siesta and before taking his tea.  “Best time of the day for laying traps”, he used to say.  “The moles are not active.  It is too hot for them”.

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In the Bardic Triads it says that Britain was the “Island of Honey”.

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In the Beginning

Today I have finally decided to start publishing some ideas I have been developing over the last twenty years.  It all started in our garden in Swanton Morley, Norfolk, Island of Honey.  It was a hot, lazy-hazy afternoon, much like it has been today.

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