Sunday, 15 December 2013

Night walk

You came with me last time – we walked down to the Post Office and we wandered past the Crinkle Crankle wall and down the hill, into the main hub of the village, looking in shop windows, saying hello to passers by. So tonight, walk back with me.  We've been for a curry in the restaurant a bit further along; our bellies are full of Rogan Josh and Dansak, sweetness and sourness and lemon rice. Our voices are hoarse from having to raise them in competition with the birthday party next to us (that loud, high pitched laughter of women of a certain age and demographic; an Estuary English cackle) but soothed and refreshed by two pints of Kingfisher.

We step out of the restaurant into the damp night air and head back home, along the main street. Past the Working Men's Club where two rotund couples are smoking outside, and a lanky dog the colour of a fox wanders over from them to sniff our legs, we stop to stroke him and notice the way his whole body seems to bend like rubber as he weaves around us. I'm reeled in by expressive eyes and the long, straight line of his nose. A noble looking dog.

We can hear a rhythmic thud thud thud from the large timber framed hotel across the road, gradually it forms itself into a distant song, a song as if heard underwater. Beyoncé. I think. Coloured bulbs mimic the beat and illuminate the dancing shapes behind the leaded light windows, exaggerating this contrast between ancient and modern. Built in the 1400s, this is the pub where a local man was murdered in 1648, apparently over a heated argument about politics, I wonder what party he supported?  His ghost is said to haunt the corridors... but I expect he stays away on nights like this.

As Beyoncé's voice fades behind us, a group of young women emerges from the shadowy distance ahead. Is the collective noun 'gaggle'? A gaggle of young women sounds right anyway.  I notice the legs first. Legs of various thicknesses, disembodied legs in pale tights that pick them out against the darkness of black skirts and grey pavement. Legs that seem to tiptoe awkwardly in tall fragile heels. Deep in our own conversation we don't say hello as we pass but our eyes flit across briefly, taking in shiny doll hair and Rimmel tans.

We walk over the bridge, next to the open field, but the mud from the tractor tracks makes our soles stick and slip and slide, so we step into the road and walk by the kerb. There's no traffic. I love this stretch of road at night, so quiet and dark. And then it's back up the hill past the grander houses, a chance to steal glimpses into bedroom windows and see their oak beamed ceilings and shelves full of books and wonder what it's like to be inside looking out.

Up ahead an older woman in a Russian hat walks slowly along the wide path, her little dog on an elastic lead running on blurred legs to catch up, stopping to look back at us, running to catch up, stopping to look back, running to catch up... Suddenly another animal shoots past my ankles and seems to disappear. Another dog, I think. She must have another dog that's not on a lead. But then another one does the same, so fast it nips past me before I can make out anything more than a tail and then it's ducked under a car parked at the side of the path. As we catch up with the tiny beige elastic dog, one of the mystery creatures joins us: it's a brown and white cat. “They're mine!” says the lady at the other end of the lead, smiling warmly. “They come out for a walk too?” we enquire, laughing. “Yes, they always come with me at night” she informs us, “but only at night – in the daytime they've got more sense and stay at home because of the cars”. Cat number two appears and I feel sure I can detect that typical feline expression of: so what's the big deal?  “That's just so sweet!” we say as the cats decide that there are more interesting things going on behind the hedge and their owner stops to wait. “I know! Goodnight then!” she says as we overtake. “Goodnight!” we call back and walk on to the top of the hill - nearly home, “goodnight!


  1. Please tell me that you saw the cats scale the (now legendary) Crinkle Crankle wall? Radio 4 should present an episode of Rambling in your village. J x

    1. Oh yes, the cats DID scale the Crinkle Crankle wall.

      Ok, so I may not have actually *seen* them do it with my own eyes, but I think we can safely and happily assume that that's exactly what happened once we were out of sight...
      Thanks, John! x

  2. That was good and the same Journey will have a host of different characters and animals each time...After your 'photo walk' I took mental pics of various things on my next 'dog walk'. I may take a camera one of these days. It was such a simple, but great idea...I will need your permission first of course.

    1. Thanks, Old Pa - I would really love to see and imagine your dog walk some time! No need for 'permission', I've read real life observations on other blogs and as everyone sees things so differently and has their own style of writing and approach, I think we can all just inspire each other very freely :-)

  3. A giggle. A giggle of young women.

    I really want a curry now. :)

    1. Of course! A giggle of young women. Perfect. Thank you :-)

      There's nothing quite like a hot curry on a cold night, is there?!


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