My last post was about the effects of Victorian railway construction on a London churchyard. The present day High Speed 2 (HS2) railway project is a twenty-first century counterpart, carving a route through several hundred miles of rural England. And on this route are three burial grounds containing 30,000 graves, all of whose occupants will have to be exhumed and reburied elsewhere.
It was a gentle devouring to begin with. The abandoned bicycle was settled into the bed of leaves and twigs, and then caressed and entwined by grass, nettles, cobwebs, and questing finger-like branches.
If there was going to be a memorial statue for David Bowie then Aylesbury might seem an odd, out-of-the-way place for it. Why not Brixton, where he was born, or Bromley, where he was formed, or Soho, where he was transformed? The connection goes back to the early 1970s when, despite its traditional-market-town identity, Aylesbury had a thriving music scene.
Carters Steam Fair was in town and I went to have a look, impelled by a faint nostalgia. And what nostalgia remained was more for the experience of fair-going than the attractions themselves.
Into the woods, and through the trees, near Chequers I went, and there I found: neither wolves nor teddy bears but armed cops on patrol. This is neither surprising nor sinister, given that Chequers Court is the Prime Minster’s country pile and that MI5 states ‘the current threat level for international terrorism in the UK is SEVERE’, meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’.
More enduring than bronze now is this monument I have made, one to reach over the Pyramids’ regal heaps, one that no greedy devouring rain, that no blustering north wind nor the run of long years unnumbered nor ages’ flight can ruin. I’ll not die entirely, some principal part of me yet evading the great Goddess of Burials. (Ode III.30 – Horace, trans. John Hollander)