Wednesday, November 5, 2014

taste of travel

Shaftsbury Street evoking Thomas Hardy
British WW1 Tank,
In this entry we travel from Bath UK to Bosham via the Tank Museum at Bovington.

Winding out of Bath in fog, tree fingers seeming to stir the swirling vapour, to Shaftsbury where in the fog I'm transported back to my love of Hardy novels where characters encounter new truths amidst mists. The taste of black sausage at breakfast
does not confirm a memory. It's pleasant, almost biscuit like experience amid a delicious breakfast well earned after cleaning the flat this morning but the tang of coffee allures. So many years ago did I like coffee? Yes but not that much. Am I yearning for an unchanging self but then there would not be room for growth. I am eating black pudding as a visitor and not as something I eat, or could choose to eat as part of my everyday diet. Here is a dialogue between selves and memories the interwoven layered self framed in beliefs about past, present, identity and future.

At Bovington I recognize firstly the names surrounded in red for Ministry of Defence, once I belonged to this family and had a place within its hierarchy. We pass the HIVE and I remember how these places came to existence in 1990 in the lead up to the Gulf War for service families. The crack of gunfire and the shape of tanks and the grey green of NATO establishments, that sense of impending war and living with the threat of attack.

Some take me back to a boyhood of AIRFIX models as my fingers hold a memory of glue and carefully placing the gun of a Sherman and Lee Grant or Churchill in its plastic turret. Then in the tank Museum ( I always wanted to go there as a boy but it was too far away when I could not drive) I confront a shape that arcs across my memory and my feeling. These are figures in respirators and NBC suits and my body remembers the smell and feel of those suits, the rubber encounter on my face, my fingers recall changing the canister in the tear has filled room as we carried out 'buddy buddy checks' and the old Cold War is present once again. Once again the Air Force which often I dream about returns to front of consciousness, appearing from the mist of the mind.

Later in the Pub at Bosham with the taste of English Cod in my mouth I recall that it was in this pub that on the day before my 18th birthday I was challenged here as I bought beer. Was I served or not, I can't remember and I must have been with Frank and Paul after Mass or a visit to the church to light a candle to our Lady of Walsingham.

Again and again, as memories telescope in familiar landscape here in West Sussex where I grew from a boy with endless dreams and fantasies, castles of the mind, to the war of secondary school, the illness of dad and his spiral into death, being found by God, the embrace of religion but also the outer landscape of boats and birds, grey skies and ploughed fields, cycle rides and friendships, that sense of a long history of which I was a part. The colour of trees the shape of roof lines, fences and doorways suggest the dreamlike and misty nature of memory.

Ancient paths of cobbles at Shaftsbury     

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