Saturday, April 11, 2009

Fen thoughts

As I sit here, shivering slightly in the damp grey chill, a football commentator on Radio 5 informs Jim that in Wigan, hundreds of fans are sitting shirtless in the blazing sun. But I wonder whether this isn't the best weather for this landscape. When the sun shines, it is inescapable; and the blue sky heavy and oppressive... No, I'm not convinced either.

But it is the best weather for really appreciating the strangeness of this place, muffled in its blanket of mist, silent and still. There is something very post-apocolyptic about the landscape. Buildings are roofless, wall-less; boarded, bricked up, cracked and collapsing, houses, pumping stations and mysterious shacks. Farmyards are junkyards of old machinery, giant wheels and the skeletons of family homes. Rumps and stumps of bridges and buildings and alien blackened trees emerge from the mist. It is as if everyone just got up and walked away. It has such a sense of being abandoned.

And yet the black fields have been ploughed and sown, and already glimmer with the pale green traces of the vegetables that come summer will be picked by an invisible army of migrant workers. But for human intervention, the land would not even be here. But it is a land living on borrowed time; and, unlike the rest of us, it knows it.

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