BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘passage’

February 1st – I’d say February already? But it doesn’t seem like that. It’s been a hard, difficult, intemperate month I’m glad to see the back of it. But it is a shock we’re already a twelfth through 2018. But then, the first months of the year always go like that; a twelfth, a sixth, a quarter, a third. Such is the elegance of modulo 12.

Passing through Tyseley in the morning, with a surprisingly warm sun on my back, it was almost spring, with Easter primroses in the planters and a lovely feel to the city air.

Sadly, my joy is a little premature, but good while it lasts…

September 1st – It really is coming on autumn now, and it’s getting me down a little. Cycling to work down Scarborough Road in Walsall on a grey Monday, fallen leaves already scatted on the road, it’s hard not to feel sad for the passage of another summer. 

I feel this one has been good; it hasn’t seemed very wet, and although August was a tad grim, the previous months had been great. Sadly I’ve not got out for longer rides this year much at all, with a combination of work and family pressures and a healing, but still troublesome foot injury – but commuting this summer was a real joy.

It’ll be a while until this season gets beautiful, and I’ll be low for a bit yet. Every year, as I get older, this transition seems to be the hardest of the year. I’m wearing a jacket again more and more, soon the scarf and full gloves will be back out of the drawer, and dark evenings will be upon us.

Oh well, down the hatch. It’s still quite green…

June 30th – I guess we’re halfway through the year now, and in high summer. It certainly seemed like it as I cycled home along the canal this evening – the greenery, the light, the still, clear water. The peace.

It also occurred to me that after 6 moths of opening out, we’re now closing in again, but summer will hopefully be around for another 10 weeks or so yet.

It doesn’t seem ten minutes ago since I was wrapping up warm and wondering if I needed to change to winter tyres.

Where has this year gone?

May 16th – I’m out in the elements all year round, and from the darkening in Autumn, the loss of leaves and closing in, I long for the days when everything is lush and green again. The jacket summer lends improves just about any spot – for me, it’s not just the warm air, the sun on my face or the birdsong – it’s the emerald greens of a summer in full flush, of the flowering and blossom, and of the maturing and fruiting.

For the last 5 months, this view hasn’t been worth a light, really. But today, on the cusp of another season, the sounds, sights and scents make this a lovely spot.

This has to be my favourite time of year.

April 4th – I’ve been struggling with my relationship with Walsall, and my memories of it, for a very long time now. I think seeing some of the places I loved burnt down, and others displaced by progress started it. I felt it was time I acknowledged it for once and for all.

I still love this surprising green, but ugly town. I love it’s unexpected beauty, I love its corners, twists and turns. I love the people, the frankness. I love the mixed cultures and the frontier mentality of a place thats both within and outside the Black Country.

I hate what time and my memory have done to it. But change is what happens to everyone, and I what I suspect I mourn isn’t Walsall, but the times I spent here.

St. Matthews is a handsome church in a commanding location, atop a hill that I’m convinced was once probably a fortification. A very large, ambitiously designed church, it’s almost too good for the place yet completely appropriate. Resplendent in yellow sandstone, it watches over the town below. For two centuries or more, it was surrounded by a sprawling slum; it’s now sitting in proud isolation with greenery and open space around. Time has been kinder to St. Matthews than one might think.

I used to come up here to think, and dream and wrestle with things that troubled me. I found the benchmark on the side of the church before I knew what it was for, and its image was persistent and perplexing. In those days, someone had written above it in neat chalked script, ‘I can’t come here anymore.’ I never knew what they meant. I do now, but the writing has long since washed away.

As I wandered around, remembering good times and bad, trying to make sense of what I felt. I looked to the skyline, to the towerblocks of Paddock, and at the flowers growing so beautifully wild in the churchyard. 

I remembered the words of the great, tortured and lost songwriter Doug Hopkins:

The last horizons I can see are filled with bars and factories 
And in them all we fight to stay awake… 
Drink enough of anything to make this world look new again 
Drunk drunk drunk in the gardens and the graves 

The last horizons I could see are now resigned to memories 
I never thought I’d still be here today… 

It dawned, gradually, that it’s about going away, and returning. Spiritually, I left this place a long, long time ago. I let Walsall go. It’s right, and natural, and what happens to us all. But I never thought I’d still be here.

And once you’ve left, although you can come back, you can’t go there anymore.

Relieved, but hurting, I got back on my bike, and rode home.