Monday, June 16, 2008


I'm in Norwich, looking at out on a flat, tree-lined landscape. The train journey down was pleasant, uneventful. I wasn't the beneficiary of Whitsun weddings or similar phenomena to write about; though every town I passed through did seem to have a cathedral high on the brow; but the medieval cathedrals were built fortified and high for many reasons, not least protection and security. All around and in between these towns you get to see things not dissimilarly to how they'd have been forty, fifty years ago. Farming in this country was industrialising a long time ago, and though the polytunnels and rural structures of Thanet Earth are a more recent thing; I guess the difference now, compared with around World War Two, would be how few people now "work the land." During the war my grandparents had an army of their own; land girls (and boys). The other sign of the times, I guess, would be the redbrick sprawl as you come into Margaret Thatcher's Grantham, and then, next to the station, a massive supermarket. In Norwich itself, coming from the station, the traffic was busy as it is everywhere these days, and on reaching the university, I found myself queueing in the rain behind a conference party of Spanish students. It gave me a chance to find the campus Waterstones. With such a range of readings over the next few days, I'm sure I'll be back there as purchaser. Tonight sees readings from Mimi Khalvati and Adam Thorpe, with a debate "Future Imperfect?" later on, which I hope will be a bit of a scene-setter for the next few days. Everything, as New Order once had it, has gone green these days - the next thing is to tease out the contradictions, and work out that means. I could, have course, have flown to Norwich; my pleasant and relaxing train journey was an appropriate start.

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