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4.00 am. I woke too early, and found myself locked out of sleep. Reading, a reliable hypnotic when I was interested, now failed me when I was not; and when at last the moon's bright fingernail seemed about to scrape back plummy drapes, I went to the open window to watch the day begin. But the garden was still unlit, coloured only by the earthy flatness of yesterday's perfume. Blackbirds, like demented pawns, were checking movements in the grey apron of lawn, while gauzy backdrops shrouded dark featureless cocoons. I dunked a tea-bag, returned to bed, opened my book–and reawoke to find I'd almost missed it.
The chorus was already packing up and drifting away to the day jobs; but there, centre-stage, halfway through his Why didn't you wake me earlier routine, was the sun: a sullen blood-dusked eye glared at me out of multicoloured sheets. Slowly, the eye became a globe of crusted gold-melt and saffron calligraphy was fired onto porcelain of the palest blue; till finally, a white-hot sphere climbed up into the sky surrounded by a bevy of dazzling clouds.
It was sheer exhibitionism. But by now, the musty morning stillness had freshened into a soothing light-touched examination of the skin; and suddenly, from a different window, I was stealing down a broad oak staircase, quietly drawing the bolts on heavy doors, and running barefoot across a graveled drive–out into the ankle-deep grass of fields just starting to steam with the warmth of sun-up. Only the smell of bacon brought me back. It was going to be hot again.
a loaded pear tree
unreachable from the barn-loft ...
all green anyway
On later visits, breakfasts were chatty cosmopolitan affairs. This time, there were only landing whispers and half-heard conversations. No-one kept me company over the toast and marmalade. Recession was biting, and not only the Brits were hard-up.
first in the bathroom, but ...
corner off the butter, crumbs–
a chair pushed back