Thursday, 2 May 2013

Dogs Delight 14 Country walks

There are more disturbing aspects to St Agnes’. 

The most fervent section of the congregation is a group I have christened the Apostles: bearded men with cowed wives and children who are a little too close to the Old Testament. 

On Sundays and other days too the men stride up the hill to church with a fierce and unflagging devotion, their families straggling along behind them.  Sometimes, watching from the window seat as they march up and down, I imagine them singing the Priests’ Chorus to Isis and Osiris: the swelling sound fills the room and swirls out into the street.  But actually they are silent marchers, staring straight ahead, hardly acknowledging even each other.  
Yesterday Richard took me to a showroom in Laxley to collect his new four by four, which is naturally larger and has more and stronger tubular steel bars across its front than the old one.  Richard is easily pleased and considers this a holiday: recompense for working long hours all week because his partner Dominic is off work with a mystery virus.  While he was negotiating his discount and attachments I stood at the showroom window looking out at our purchase, parked to advantage in the sunny courtyard and making a grimace of animosity at the world.  I glanced wonderingly at Richard’s pleased profile as he drove it snarling home and then out of the window, where the village church was looming between two large stands of trees.  The dizzying spire seemed to call out to me more insistently than ever.

I feel no desire to join the Apostles, nor any other part of the unpromising congregation, though I did read somewhere that in a church you must expect to find sinners and not angels, because it is only sinners who feel the need for atonement.
It appears over the hill when I am out with Bailey and leave Covert Lane to cross the fields.  I do this hoping to avoid certain dog walkers, and walkers generally: it is very difficult to get away from people in the countryside. 

There is a man called Gates who stalks the fields with binoculars, tractor-spotting, whom you are liable to find in the remotest places.  Sometimes when I see someone coming I hide behind a hedge, tugging Bailey by his straining collar so that we are not seen.  Even bridle paths are unsafe, for there is always the chance of meeting Pamela Jolie on her vicious and enormously high horse, Saracen.  When I cannot avoid a meeting on a narrow pathway I have to press my back against the hawthorn hedge, flinching as the high brown flanks pass by.  ‘I can’t trust him not to kick, you know,’ calls out Pamela Jolie, airily cracking her whip.  I know for a fact that Saracen bit Mr Dilkes on the shoulder while he was admiring a Cumberland sausage in Black’s window last week.