Trowbridge to Shepton Mallet
‘He muttered, pushing his bicycle back uphill, past the goats by the ruin, and up the steps between walls that were lovely with humid moneywort, and saxifrage like filigree, and ivy-leaved toadflax. Apparently the effort loosed his tongue. He rambled on and on about himself, his past, his writing, his digestion; his main point being that he did not like writing. He had been attempting the impossible task of reducing undigested notes about all sorts of details to a grammatical, continuous narrative. He abused notebooks violently. He said that they blinded him to nearly everything that would not go into the form of notes; or, at any rate, he could never afterwards reproduce the great effects of Nature and fill in the interstices merely – which was all they were good for – from the notes. The notes – often of things which he would have otherwise forgotten – had to fill the whole canvas. Whereas, if he had taken none, then only the important, what he truly cared for, would have survived in his memory, arranged not perhaps as they were in Nature, but at least according to the tendencies of his own spirit.’
(In Pursuit of Spring, Edward Thomas)
‘The strategy that, yesterday, aimed at a development of new urban spaces has been little by little transformed into a rehabilitation of national heritage. After having considered the city in the future, does one begin to consider it in the past, like a space for journeys in itself, a deepening of its histories? A city henceforth haunted by its strangeness – Paris – rather than taken to extremes to reduce the present to nothing more than scraps from which a future escapes – New York.’
(The Practice of Everyday Life: Volume 2, Michel de Certeau and Luce Giard)
It was a day of the week, one of them; all track of time lost. Every Monday morning comes; back to the banal, the weekday, not yet though, there was still a fair way to go. Finally we were to leave; get back on the road. Edward rode down to Bradford; the southern one, on the Avon, with jackdaws. He dismounted by the river, directly beneath the stars and stripes flopped under the misted window. And gazed up at the town: the church, brewery, stepped streets, yews, chestnuts, willows, almond, beech, rooks, a factory, smoke. The Other Man joined him; they both went to Wells. I was unsure which one to follow. There were memories in Bath nearby. And Avebury: a sarsen stone taken from there to make the fake grave at Steep. Both are world heritage sites. But the other two went south together with the Frome, passing by a castle on a brow. Down a lane of poplars they continued. Edward had stayed in a farm there for the past two nights. Taking a slight detour by it, I found myself at the Somerset border. The plain stone almost windowless building marking the county line: the only abode for miles. Edward wanted to go one way the Other Man another. Edward to Rode Hill, the Other Man to Tellisford. Both retraced their steps to Farleigh, Edward becoming increasingly frustrated with the Other Man. I opted to go uphill past a settlement of holiday caravans, as the Other Man had suggested. It was a heavily treed rising lane, but a metal five bar gate offered a glimpse of the valley. Tellisford climbed on the opposite bank; a few cottages, a hamlet in the Yorkshire Dales. The lane dropped down to the Frome rapidly, becoming a narrow mudded path. Footprints dried hard in the weak winter sun prevented cycling. On reaching the riverside, it was clear why lane became path. There was no longer a ford rather a footbridge, pannier width. Along with the little bridge the Other Man had described a ruined flock-mill, an ancient house also a ruin, a farm with a round tower embodied on its front, and a beautiful meadow sloping between the river and the woods above – best possible place for running in the sun after bathing whilst listening to nightingales and thrush. All were still there but not as they appeared to the Other Man. It had all been tidied up and regenerated on an industrial scale. The ruined ancient house had been reworked by stonemasons. It even had its own modern steel footbridge hidden behind a weeping willow. Most surprising of all though was the flock-mill; a residual bricolage, a water-mill converted to hydroelectric generation gleaming with crisp slate and steel appendages. A glass box hung from the side of the building and over the river – its banks recently carpeted in pristine lush green lawn. Pulling the bike up the cobbled steps reminded me of the north again, a stylised, sterile north; specifically a bread advert. There was no war memorial by the church at the top. It was a thankful village, having lost no men. A simulacrum of a village: no death drive – the ideal place for the Other Man to reside, with the absence of a body.
It made perfect sense then that the next sight of interest for the Other Man would be The George Inn. Edward stopped a mile prior and sat on a sheep trough. The Other Man did the same, shelling monkey-nuts; monkey-nuts, like beef-steak, turned into himself – they absorbed his attention and he talked comparatively little. Edward gazed southward to Cley Hill; a dim, broad landscape that seemed to be expecting to bring something forth. A pile of tyres rested jumbled with the shells of monkey-nuts, beside a lane used rarely by anything other than tractors. The Other Man continued to shell. Sticky wet mud painted itself upon the pile of tyres, the ones at the base almost completely clay coloured. All were thrown into roughly the right area; some overhung the lane, thick with cloying muck. None were large enough to fit a tractor, at the makeshift tip; rubber resting, tyres buckling, hedgerow collapsing. After the shelling was complete, Edward cycled to the village. We passed a plastic heron, doing its job. The Other Man got off to look over the George at Norton St Phillip – another show place, known to its proprietor as the oldest licensed house in England. A plaque stated that it was once occupied for a night by the Duke of Monmouth, leader of the Pitchfork Rebellion. He was attacked there by forces loyal to James II. The rebels got as far as Trowbridge but royalist forces cut off the route and Monmouth turned back towards Somerset through Shepton Mallet, and Wells, eventually being defeated at the Battle of Sedgemoor, near Bridgwater. The Inn is an imposing structure, looming over the road, dwarfing the pub opposite; the Fleur De Lys. It had been kept in good order, clearly repainted regularly in a bright white, with signs added to each entrance; coach room for example, all in keeping with the age and style of the building – stone base with arched leaded windows, beneath a timber frame. The Other Man was scared out of entering the inn by a new arrival – a man of magnificent voice, who talked with authority, and without permission and without intermission, to any one whom neighbourhood made a listener. After a wish that the talker might become dumb, or he himself deaf, Edward and the Other Man escaped, and retreated with the rebels towards Wells, via Shepton Mallet, leaving the heritage sight to the cult which surround the site – the members of the public who undertake pilgrimages there, and like in the case of Edward; life is reduced to his death. It has always baffled: why is so much emphasis placed on trying to understand the reason Edward went to war, rather than going back to his texts? During his childhood, Edward acquired a knowledge of Natural History, collecting butterflies and birds’ eggs, and noting details of trees and flowers. These early notes led to published articles at the age of seventeen! The Woodland Life, his first book was published soon after, in 1897. His work though is eclipsed and taken by the trenches; people gorp at the spectacle of war and forget the enduring power of his writing. It seems this is symptomatic of the way heritage and preservation works; it needs death – in the words of Michel de Certeau; the misappropriation of subjects accompanies the renovation of objects. The writings of Edward at each of the heritage sites on route indicate an intense annoyance with them. The packaged, commodified, and cleaned up, the trendy spot to photograph the horizon; they are places for the Other Man who stares at the surface of things. Edward cannot escape them though: the Wanderer, the Ancient Monument, and the Picturesque Scene – surviving Romantic archetypes. Why end the pursuit near Coleridge Cottage then? As a provocation, the Other Man essentially becomes the reader; enfolded with a tourist gaze? There is evidence of subversion at these sites, on the part of Edward – adding the wrong ghosts, doing the wrong things, seeing the wrong stuff, missing things altogether; Stonehenge is left alone despite its proximity. The book becomes, in this unfolding, an early critique of heritage tourism, the grand tour, and the guide book – something which his pursuit of spring could never be described as; time spent writing of clay pipes, talking of paintings in his room, and generally procrastinating and being poetic, is testament to this.
Like Edward and the Other Man, stopping for the church behind the inn was not an option, as the land dropped smoothly away and rose steadily beyond. We continued pedalling, carrying momentum. At the peak of the rise was a remote outpost called Tuckers-Grave, appropriated by ramblers and cyclists, and back in the sixties by mods and rockers. Who Tucker was, and whether it was a man or a woman buried at the crossing, I did not discover. The pub is one of only nine in the whole country without a bar or kitchen; it has since shut after two hundred years of service. The name comes from the burial place of a suicide, Edwin Tucker, who died in 1747. Edward’s is a strange, defective form of historical materialism: he enjoys leaving the gaps for others to fill – the type of storytelling loved by anthropologist Michael Taussig; synonymous with Franz Kafka, Walter Benjamin, and W.G Sebald. Exactly what happens to the site without the name of the pub adorning it remains to be seen; forced to close, with no new owners forthcoming. The pub, like most other pubs, had died already but carried on regardless for a decade or two. Fifty-two pubs close each week in the United Kingdom: the landlord, a dying breed, kept it going as a service to the as yet undead, the dead on their feet, repeating routines; a pint of cider and a read of the paper, a game of dominoes or skittles – like the ghostly characters in How the Dead Live by Will Self. Remembrance is a messy business. The Stranglers played at the pub for its last ever day of service. A final farewell barbeque, a ritual sacrifice of meat, and the doors closed for good – another legendary Somerset cider house gone. It is a nice thought though that despite the church down the road not acknowledging the death, the people of the villages of Faulkland and Norton-St-Phillip remembered Tucker for over two centuries; and the site of his death, and gave him a grave. Beyond the grave on the cross-roads was more death: Faulkland – the name of the village and the place itself seemed to encourage it – peering out across the Mendips; it was not the affluent pristine stockbroker sort of village passed earlier in the journey. A plastic reindeer, left over from Christmas, summed the place up. Everything was a bit greyer, open to the elements, windswept, cold. It was a lonely, isolated, sad stretch of road, topping high land, with the Frome on the left and Midford Brook on the right, through the mist. Far more ancient and dark since they killed the badger there – one after the other, each in different poses, for intrepid journeyers; a flash of the first out of the corner of my eye, stopped me in my tracks. The amount of rubbish there was unbelievable, accrued over decades by the hedgerow – wrappers for things that no longer existed. Amongst all that shit beside the road, were no less than four badgers, in quick succession. They had popped their heads up and hoped for the best, stretching their short legs; only to be needlessly killed by speeding drivers, off down the shops to buy more tat. The first had its fur torn off, leaving a sack of bloody insides. Its face was still intact; the eyes looking upwards at anyone who passed by. None of the body was flat. It must have been caught by a car and dragged, unpeeling the skin as the body rolled and scraped. The second a hundred metres farther on was not on the road but in the hedgerow. It was amongst the rubbish that lazy, greedy, selfish twats could not be bothered to take home with them – a lot bigger than the first, although it was hard to tell as the lower half of the body was missing. Again it was not flat in any way. Maybe it dragged itself there to die, groaned and gave up; little forearms splayed, long head down. The third had a blackened face, flattened to the tarmac. The rest of its body protruded from the flat point like Glastonbury Tor, or the artificial chalk mound, Silbury Hill. And finally, the last sad specimen was sat upright, and had in all likelihood curled up before it was hit hard by the stiff bumper, rendering it, hopefully, instantly stiff too. The most ancient Briton of English beasts. A whole clan – boar, sow, and cub – gone in a matter of weeks; judging by the amount of soft tissue left. It was a moment of poetic clarity on an otherwise mainly care free jaunt. I scribbled this soon after, in the absence of any graves, not that anything as naive and childlike could do the horrific scene any justice. Their bodies were there but nothing marked the spot for posterity; human remains are often not beneath a memorial, but the spot is still marked for future generations. The sarsen stone above Steep for example, changing a hillside in to Edward Thomas’ Hillside; recognising his life spent walking up and down it, dedicating the ridge to his memory. His bones in Agny, France, near the battlefield of the Battle of Arras, are visited rarely by the literary cults on their pilgrimages; the fake grave above Steep being their preferred destination.
I talk to myself a lot now dead badger,
guts spilt out in a pointless red anger,
blackened face flattened to the hard tarmac,
stupid creatures if only we’d turned back.
I passed your friend splayed over the curb,
strewn with the rubbish thrown from turds,
we did not chat though I turned away,
anyway after everything what could I say.
Sleep now I will go and leave you in peace;
pity I could not know you as an old badger,
the road continues but we do not as once
I turn this corner I am finally gone yonder.
I talk to myself a lot now dead badger
because you are no longer my badger.
Beyond the narrow road where cars shot by too fast was a bright blue bird. An electric blue, the type you see in a modern kitchen. It too was too flat. It shone against the dark road surface. And shared the road with a brown creature, perhaps a weasel or a stoat, it was difficult to tell. A tower on the opposite side of the valley gained the attention of the Other Man. He asked twenty questions about it of a carter. Once two hundred and thirty feet high; about a hundred feet still survives. A long straight uphill stretch left behind the road kill – the foxes, rabbits, squirrels, rats, and pigeons seen lifeless were neglected to an extent after death alley. Earlier in the week an incline such as would have pained. There was a new sense of control though, as I knew my machine and rocked it side to side in a low gear, breathing steadily – it was no longer the repressive type of signifying machine Kafka had in mind, rather a technology of possibility, good or bad; like the motor car. The hills seemed a cruel place. Charlton, a village on the edge of the Mendips – area of outstanding natural beauty – reminded us again of the city we had left behind days ago. Perhaps shiny city life was not so wicked after all. Although had we ever really left it behind, all we were doing was extending the city, or more correctly, merely witnessing the extended city, feeling its grip, its immense pull, closing down local pubs, killing animals. The Fosse Way appeared arrow straight, heading south-west, on its way to the old frontier trading city, Exeter – home. Stratton-on-the-Fosse and its fort sat high on the roadside to the right. A mile farther on we were seven hundred and twenty feet up, almost on a level with the ridge of the Mendips, now close before us. At Nettlebridge the road twisted back and forth, meaning a deviation from the old Roman way down the hill, as Edward noted – even so top speed was still achievable. The opposite ascent was also in an S. The Fosse Way cut a path towards Cannards Grave – named after Giles Cannard, or Tom Kennard, Tom the Tavener, the landlord of a hostelry there, a popular post for travellers. Cannard was involved with smuggling, gambling, illegal drinking, and profanities. Further tales are told about him intoxicating his guests with the specific aim of robbing them whilst they slept, and even in some cases murdering them, later claiming that they departed his care in good health. Opposite the inn stood a gibbet, on which smugglers, highwaymen, bandits, and other miscreants met their end. Tom’s tavern was popular not only because of its convenient location but because he provided a bolt-hole and refuge for a number of local scoundrels. It was not uncommon for landlords to identify guests carrying rich pickings, and then sell information about their travel plans. A few miles away from the inn, the poor travellers would find themselves robbed, but nobody would ever be able to prove Tom’s complicity. There are two versions of the Cannard legend. One says that Tom managed to lay his hands on a certain paper, which entitled him to considerable wealth. Frome merchants disputed the transaction, and, along with a band of Sheptonians who had no love for Tom, went en masse to the inn, with the intention of lynching Tom. The terrified Tom escaped, and committed suicide by hanging himself from the nearby gibbet. The second version is more dramatic still. Tom, it seems, was not just a publican in league with thieves: he was himself a highwayman and rustler, in league with the notorious Dr Syn, the Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. Tom’s activities took him to Glastonbury, Frome, and Warminster. However, his illicit career came to an end when he was discovered with ten stolen sheep in his yard. Although his supporters alleged that he was framed by his enemies from Frome, he was found guilty and hanged from the gibbet. There is some evidence that Tom was the last man in England to be hanged for sheep-stealing. Since then there have been numerous reports of the place being haunted. Tom’s tavern fell into decline, although much of the original structure is to be seen in the restaurant which currently stands on the spot. The gibbet was eventually torn down, and Cannards Grave Inn was built in its place. The pub sits near the Fosse Way – large sections of it now impassable; walked only by the ghost of Tom the Tavener. We took the S – rather than negotiating brambles and spectres – up the northern slope of the Mendips, dropped again, and reached eventually after much effort, the aptly named Long Hill; the long way round and it was another long uphill stretch. It was all pavemented though, so there was less chance of becoming road kill. No pedestrian passed, no cyclist passed; yet there was always a steady stream of cars and lorries to stop and rob.
On the side of a wall was this. The Basilica of St Gregory the Great at Downside, commonly known as Downside Abbey, is a Roman Catholic Benedictine Monastery and the Senior House of the English Benedictine Congregation. It is also a school for children aged nine to eighteen. The community was founded at Douai, Flanders, then in the Spanish Netherlands, in 1605, under the patronage of St Gregory the Great. The founder was St John Roberts, who became the first prior, and established the new community with other English monks who had entered various monasteries in the Spanish Benedictine Congregation, notably that at Valladolid. In 1611 Dom Philip de Caverel, abbot of St Vaast’s Abbey at Arras, built and endowed a monastery for the community. At which point I stopped reading. The word Arras stopped me. And I began to think of Edward again. Of his grave near Arras, of his death – seems we cannot leave death alone, ignored and it pops up again, the death drive. And his life is reduced to his heroic death once more. Of the events leading up to his death, and without visiting the barracks, battlefield, or grave, this is what I have managed to piece together from archives and his private war diary, kept during his last three months as a soldier. The diary was re-printed in the back of the book of collected poems that I carried with me on the poetic journey In Pursuit of Spring. And gazed at stood before the abbey at Downside. Peter Sacks wrote this of it. It is written in a small (3 in. x 5 ¾ in.) Walker’s Back-Loop pocket-book, bound in pig-skin and priced at two-shillings; the cover and pages are curiously creased, which suggests that he was carrying the diary either on the 8th of April, when he was knocked over by the blast from a 5.9 shell, or on the morning of the 9th of April, when he was killed at an Observation Post while directing the fire of 244 Battery during the opening barrage of the Battle of Arras. The diary was given to his son Merfyn, who died in 1965, and it was re-discovered in 1970 by his son, Edward – president of the Edward Thomas Fellowship until he died recently. According to the Western Front Association, after finally deciding to enlist, Edward was passed medically fit in July 1915 and joined the Artists Rifles – the same regiment that Wilfred Owen joined two months later. In three months he became Lance Corporal and was instructing officers at Hare Hall Camp, near Romford, Essex. Wilfred Owen arrived there for training in November. Edward composed over forty poems at Hare Hall, in the ten months he spent there. In August 1916 Edward received his commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery. And on September 20th his unit travelled to the Royal Artillery Barracks at Trowbridge. Edward went to Lydd in Kent for further training. At Christmas time he was given some unexpected leave. January 1st: Shooting with 15 pounders and then 6” howitzers. All week at Lydd, I being fire control officer or observer daily, with map work for next day at night. Thorburn away. Beautiful clear bright weather always, but sometimes cold. January 5th: Left Lydd on mobilisation leave. Night at Rusham Road with Father and Mother. January 6th: Julian to breakfast. With mother to stores. Lunch with Eleanor and tea with Joan and Bertie. Home with Bronwen. All well. January 7th: Walks with Helen and children. Fine day. January 8th: Eleanor came and stayed night. Wrote cheques for next 6 months. January 9th: Eleanor left. Helen and I walked in forest. January 10th: Dentist’s. Lunch with Jone and Harry. Tea with Ivy Ransome and then Ingpen and Davies. Saw V.H. Collins. Home. January 11th: Said goodbye to Helen, Mervyn and Baba. Bronwyn to Rusham Road. Lunched with Mrs. Freeman: afterwards saw Haynes and McCabe. Tea with Jesse and T. Clayton and met Lipchitz. Supper at Rusham Road with all my brothers. Edward had begun the poetic passage In Pursuit of Spring from Rusham Road almost four years earlier, having never written a single poem: no plaque adorns the house, unlike 61 Shelgate Road, where he lived as a child, around the corner. He arrived at the mobilisation camp at Codford, Salisbury Plain on January 15th 1917. January 13th: Nothing to do but test compass which never gives same results. Walk and tea with Flawn. Cold drizzle. Horton and the battery left early for Codford. Even wrote verses – his one hundred and forty-fourth poem, his last poem. The sorrow of true love is a great sorrow And true love parting blackens a bright morrow: Yet almost they equal joys, since their despair Is but hope blinded by its tears, and clear Above the storm the heavens wait to be seen. But greater sorrow from less love has been That can mistake lack of despair for hope And knows not tempest and the perfect scope Of summer, but a frozen drizzle perpetual Of drops that from remorse and pity fall And cannot ever shine in the sun or thaw, Removed eternally from the sun’s law. On January 28th he wrote to Bronwen, Helen, Ivy, and Eleanor saying that once over there he would say no more goodbyes. January 29th: Up at 5. Very cold. Off at 6.30, men marching in frosty dark to station singing ‘Pack up your troubles in your oldkit-bag’. The rotten song in the still dark brought one tear. No food or tea – Freezing carriage. Southampton at 9.30 and there had to wait till dusk, walking up and down, watching ice-scattered water, gulls and dark wood beyond, or London Scottish playing improvised Rugger, or men dancing to concertina, in a great shed between railway and water. Smith and I got off for lunch after Horton and Capt. Lushington returned from theirs… Hung about till dark – the seagulls as light failed nearly all floated instead of flying – then sailed at 7. Thorburn turned up… the men outside laughing and joking and saying fucking… Remember the entirely serious and decorous writing in urinal whitewash – name, address, unit, and date of sailing. A tumbling crossing, but rested. The battery arrived at Le Havre at 4 a.m. Light of stars and windows of tall pale houses and electric arcs on quay. March through bales of cotton in sun to camp. The snow first emptying its castor of finest white. Tents. Mess full of subalterns censoring letters. Breakfast at 9.46 a.m. on arrival. Afternoon in Havre, which Thorburn likes because it is French. Mess unendurably hot and stuffy, tent unendurably cold till I got into my blankets. Slept well in fug. Snow at night. Edward spent his first days overhauling the guns, rearranging stores, and reading sonnets. He wrote to his wife Helen almost daily, and made a speech to the men explaining that they need not be shy about writing familiar letters home. The battery entrained on February 4th and arrived at a frozen Mondicourt without guns on February 6th. On February 9th after a night of heavy firing, Edward and half of the battery were sent to Dainville, where they went into billets on the Arras Road. Edward spent the next weeks at Observation Posts at Ronville and Beaurains. On the 3rd April Edward wrote MACBETH and on the 5th April HAMLET. April 8th: A bright warm Easter day but Achincourt shelled at 12.39 and then at 2.15 so that we all retired to cellar. I had to go over to battery at 3 for a practice barrage, skirting the danger zone, but we were twice interrupted. A 5.9 fell 2 yards from me as I stood by the f/c post. One burst down the back from the office and a piece of dust scratched my neck. No firing from 2-4. Rubin left for a course. The next day, at 7.30 a.m. he was killed by a shell, standing at the Beaurains Observation Post. It was the first day of the Battle of Arras. Killed by the blast of a shell that exploded nearby. Stopping his heart and leaving not a scratch on him. He had just turned thirty-nine. On the last pages of his diary were found these notes: The light of the new moon and every star And no more singing for the bird… I never understood quite what was meant by God The morning chill and clear hurts my skin while it delights my mind. Neuville in early morning with its flat straight crest with trees and houses – the beauty of this silent empty scene of no inhabitants and hid troops, but don’t know why I could have cried but didn’t. Loose inside the diary, strangely creased by the shell-blast, like the diary, was a photograph of Helen. Also in his pocket was a slip of paper with some addresses on it, on the reverse of which was written this: Where any turn may lead to Heaven Or any corner may hide Hell Roads shining like river up hill after rain. It is taken from his poem Roads. Edward was buried in Agny Military Cemetery, near the site of his death. Row C grave 43, by some cherry trees it says; by accident or by design. The cherry trees bend over and are shedding, On the old road where all that passed are dead,Their petals, strewing the grass as for a wedding This early May morn when there is none to wed.
A pastoral centre on leaving the abbey: children in their matching dress kicking a football against a wall – a scene from the 1950s but now somehow eerie and strange; the dialectical image, the ride was full of them, the journey itself a dialectical image. Inside the pastoral centre was a dog. It barked and barked. Edward has been described as a pastoral melancholic. The book shop represented nothing of his ideas about humanity and nature. It contained many self help guides and some nicely bound bibles. It was not the pastoral expected. Outside, Shepton was five hundred feet lower, and but two miles distant; so that we glided down somewhat like gods, having for domain an expanse that ended in the mass of Selwood Forest twelve miles to our left, level topped, huge, and dim, under a cloudy sky. The Other Man refused to stay in Shepton Mallet. He was very angry with Shepton. He called it a godless place. Edward laughed, supposing he lamented the lack of Apollo or Dionysus or Aphrodite. The Other Man mounted and rode on towards Wells. We entered the market town from beneath the old Somerset and Dorset Railway. The line is not used anymore but the viaduct still soared sixty feet above – industrial heritage on an epic scale, reminding a northerner of Stockport. We went to find some of the old pubs, before dropping down to the Dust Hole. Unfortunately The George is now a bank, the Bunch of Grapes a pound shop, and the Red Lion a playground. More deceased pubs: holders of memories, community spirit. Down at the Dust Hole, beside the old quarry, the viaduct strides across the valley. No miners frequented the pub, kicking up dust. A German Shepherd and a few people sat dotted about in ones and twos. The dog sniffed away at the bottom of my trousers, skulking like a badger, while I patted its fat head. It was the first contact I had had all week. Edward was at a temperance hotel, thinking of his day. With the aid of maps he travelled his road again, dwelling chiefly with his other self on Tellisford; its white bridge over the Frome, the ruined mill and cottage, the round tower of Vaggs Hill Farm, and the distinct green valley which enclosed them. I dwelt with the badgers, in their tense and contested sites of being, doing and remembering, of disaster and delight; hearing sounds, enacting performances, and partaking in noise, rush and solitude. At the frontier and the fringe, on the road and in the sett: the marginal, interstitial and oppositional. An affective, embodied encounter – always already mediated – amenable to the agencies of power, knowledge and desire.