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Friday, 29 April 2016

Lump-bagging

Sir Hugh (left), dressed to withstand blizzards;
 RR (right), obviously a townie but note the boots
Brother Sir Hugh is staying, partly for social reasons, partly to feed his obsession for walking. But not simply ambling to Tesco for a litre of semi-skinned, there are rules. Once he walked from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean along the Pyrenees. These days, sere and tortured by his exertions, he pursues more modest projects: bagging all the landscape lumps in England of a certain height. He invites me to climb a trio of lumps within spitting distance of where I live.

I'm older than Sir Hugh. Years ago I foresaw there'd come a time when I'd only be capable of  a sedentary life. This has now happened; it's one reason why I compose sonnets. Sir Hugh insisted his lumps were hardly distinguishable from the flat.

My “walking” boots were last worn thirty years ago. Dust had stiffened the laces, making them hard to tighten. But the thick leather had maintained its contours and despite the boots' enormous weight they were a reassurance. I felt I could kick to death any importunate mugger.

I'd forgotten about going uphill. When my breathing started to scare cows Sir Hugh tactfully stopped for unspecified strategic reasons. Resuming I made no more noise than a slumbering spaniel. The eventual panoramic view encompassed the distant Malverns and the even more distant Black Mountains (in Wales).

The second lump was wooded, diminishing any sense of altitude. Alas we picked up an Ancient Mariner figure, in favour of Brexit (England's departure from the European Union) and much given to interference.

The final ascent was deceptive: the initial lane was unpleasantly steep and filled me with hatred. On my return I was able to jog-trot down this section and thus take my revenge. Walking is sustained by many similar delusions.

7 comments:

Avus said...

How I wish I could still go for a good walk instead of a hobbling half mile with the dog twice a day. The stroke has left me with permanent neuropathy in my left leg and foot. There is no physical damage, but the nerves tell me there is and the stiffness of the leg and spasticity of the foot and tendons mean I am almost a semi cripple.
Still, cycling is still possible and I thank my lucky stars for small mercies.

marly youmans said...

Very amusing.

I am picturing the first lump as a Stevensian Mountain Covered with Cows.

Sir Hugh said...

Well, I took you out your comfortable environment and gave you a taste of what I find enjoyable. I must thank you for doing something similar for me by giving me a basic lesson in the technical aspects of music and reading a score for solo singing. Making things happen to bring new experiences should be the basis for living our lives and long may it continue for both of us.

Sent from my iPad

MikeM said...


The title conjures an image of men shoveling coal into sacks, though I'm sure in modern times this work is mechanized. Coal, of course, is just peat pushed further, flora and fauna of days gone by. Makes me wonder if peat is bagged or just carted and trucked, like firewood. Come to think of it, firewood is now bagged hereabouts, in small doses in "convenience stores". Labeled "campfire wood". Given and surname be as they may, in the end all shall be Peat. My best stab at Shakespeare. So pleased you both continue to elude fossilization.

Roderick Robinson said...

Avus: "If wishes were horses then beggars would ride." It seemed a good idea to be philosophical about decay before it happened; to work hard at finding a worthwhile substitute. Something that was sufficiently absorbing (thus, probably, creative) as to drive out regret. This appeared to work with ski-ing; swimming (which replaced ski-ing) clung on longer. I didn't like the idea of being imprisoned by my body which I'd never entirely got on with. Writing is OK; combined with singing it's a lot better. A right Job's comforter I am.

Marly: Are we talking about Stevens the poet? Or Shaking Stevens? Just a mite too elliptical.

Sir Hugh: It seems to me you're about halfway towards the solution I pose above for Avus.

MikeM: We talked earlier about the beneficial effects of letting our minds wander. I should have stressed it's only beneficial if you allow this to happen; if the mind takes over and wanders of its own accord then ga-gaism may be just round the corner. I'm delighted you seem sure my brother and I have escaped ossification; I need all the reassurance I can get about this these days.

Peat is first dug as I'm sure you knew. We burned it during WW2 when coal was hard to come by. It's not a perfect fuel: it ignites reluctantly, the flames are frequently hard to spot, light ash drifts upwards and covers everything, heat is often imperceptible. There's the smell, of course.

mikeM said...

I had to dig a little bit deep for that def. of ossification, but great thanks for perhaps the most merciful re-re in history.

Blonde Two said...

A great picture, one to treasure I think. There is something about a trig pillar and it is not just about getting to the top of the hill. When Blonde One and I were being photographed as Ordnance Survey Champions there was a fake pillar in the room. Everybody migrated towards it and wanted to sit, lean, touch ... just like you did.