(June 19th to 25th)

Format: Triple

‘I’ll come over every year after this,’ he said, in a burst of delight, as we ran between two ten foot hedges of pink and white may. ‘It’s seeing all the things I’ve ever read about. Of course it doesn’t strike you that way. I presume you belong here? What a finished land it is! It’s arrived. Must have been born this way.


This is from “My Sunday at Home” in The Day’s Work. The narrator has met an American doctor on the train from London down to Plymouth, and the New Yorker is enthusing about the peace of the English countryside. However, they soon stop unexpectedly at a small village halt, where – through a ludicrous misunderstanding – explosive events ensue.

About two o’clock we topped Sumtner Rising and looked down on the village of Sumtner Barton, which lies just across a single railway line, spanned by a red brick bridge. The thick, thunderous June airs brought us gusts of melody from a giddy-go-round steam-organ in full blast near the pond on the village green. Drums, too, thumped and banners waved and regalia flashed at the far end of the broad village street.


This is from “The Vortex” in A Diversoty of Creatures. The narrator and a party of friends are out in a car on a hot Saturday, and drive into a village in searcj of beer. They are plagued by the tiresome conversation of a Theorist of Empire, who has asked to take the wheel. Unfortunately he knocks a messenger boy off his bicycle, and his boxes of bees fall into the road. They swarm through the village stinging everything in their path.

Beyond that precise hamlet which stands godmother to the capital of the United States, I found hidden villages where bees, the only things awake, boomed in eighty-foot lindens that overhung grey Norman churches; miraculous brooks diving under stone bridges built for heavier traffic than would ever vex them again; tithe-barns larger than their churches, and an old smithy that cried out aloud how it had once been a hall of the Knights of the Temple.


The narrator is driving westward across Sussex, relishing the ancient settled landscape. Soon he is to happen on a beautiful old house, which is haunted by the ghosts of dead children, including his own little daughter…