Friday, March 20, 2009

More Anglo Sabi

On Tuesday I left the office and stepped into as sweet and golden an evening as God is ever likely to bestow on this island. The moment I climbed into the car, the full absurdity of my plan to go the gym struck me. Evenings like this, I reasoned, are not so commonplace that one can afford to simply ignore them. So rather than do penance on a treadmill, I boldly cast off the bonds of routine, left the car where it was and set off on a long walk through the lanes of South Gloucestershire.

Dear me, this is the business, I thought, resting awhile at the top of a hill. The scent of distant bonfires, a bubbling of birds in the tree-lines and a burnished haze across the valleys. Ratty and Moley floating about on a boat somewhere below. The world was washed in the light of the Magic Hour, like in the Kubrick movie Barry Lyndon.

At one point a wee deer shot daintily across my path. I was suddenly reminded of Appleyard’s brilliant remark a couple of years ago:

I don't understand going out into the countryside to shoot things. I feel it's a terrible failure of the imagination, like taking a television set on a hike. The wilderness is complete and self-justifying; all we are required to do is look at it.

And that reminded me of Duck’s equally brilliant retort:

Your self-contained wilderness is no such thing, it is a manicured garden devoid of predators. You feel no need to shoot game because you eat beef and pork raised on some factory farm and slaughtered and butchered by low wage laborers. Your idyllic stroll in the woods is only possible because of modern man's absolute dominance over nature.

Obviously I couldn’t remember the exact wording of this exchange– I’ve looked that up since – but I pondered the essential conundrum on the homeward stretch and, as ever, came to no solid conclusion.

I finished my walk with a pint of Badger at the Upton, detracting from the physical benefits of the exercise but enhancing the spiritual ones.

A solitary man in a pub garden with a pint and a copy of Anthony Burgess’s Malayan Trilogy. It’s noble, but is it English Wabi Sabi? Not quite, I don’t think, though it’s in the same neck of the woods.

True Anglo Sabi appears either completely spontaneously or through rigorous and precise ceremony, I think. Keep an eye out for it.


malty said...

You could have simply driven to the boozer and had time for another pint. The weather is strange at the moment, wots that red thing in the sky and why isn't it chucking it down, unnerving, spooky, I feel something terrible is about to happen.
The portents do not look good, I shall away and consult with Frau Maltys tea leaves.

Brit said...

Something terrible is always about to happen.

Nige said...

And you've acquired invisibility Brit - well done - me too.

will said...

Now that it's summer(sort of) I get up at 6am to go to the gym - this means that you get to see the beautiful sunrise (often better than the sunset), you get a totally empty gym where you can make as much grunting noises as you like, and then you have your evenings free to do much more important things, like drinking beer.

Havn't read any Burgess yet- should I? Is his style like anyone else you could name?

Brit said...

Takes years of practice, Nige, but I got there in the end. T

ell you what, next time you're in the Bristol area give me a shout. We can go on an invisible nature ramble and you can identify the different bird noises for me. To me they're just tweety ones, twitty ones and croaky ones, it's a bit unsatisfying.

Brit said...

Well, Will, that's a tricky one. Burgess is not universally approved; divides the critics. He sings to me, but others may hate him. Try Enderby or Earthly Powers, see how you go.

As for style, he's got a wide range. I think he's a little bit Joycean, only more accessible. Best known for A Clockwork Orange of course, but that's written in the made-up language Nadsat so is far from typical.

malty said...

Its the demanding sound that burdz make that scare me Brit, and I should have congratulated you a a beautifully written blog.
Frau Maltys tea leaves say a financial disaster is pending but I'm not so sure, they are 6 months old.

Brit said...


Stephen Fawcus said...

Where I live on the North East coast the only birds I hear this time of year are bloody seagulls, hardly the most melodic of avians.
In fact, about half an hour ago I heard someone outside shouting "shut up" at the screeching devils, they didn't take any notice.