By Angela Lambert
There are days when, though the world has ills to conquer, you are not in a conquering mood. You have something else in mind, pulling at the corner of your consciousness. It is then that the act of slapping one foot in front of the other improves something, somewhere you feel. I am not talking about organised walks with bottled water and an energy bar. The mere fact that they are organised negates the lot. Plus you don’t want to go dealing with people who go in for “activities.” You have baked a cake or punched a wall, that is what you have done. Who announces in the pub “I did an activity today.”
So one foot in front of the other, down the hill and round the side of the Rose and Crown to the river. Doesn’t matter if it is raining – sometimes its better if it is. That moody light flickering on the ripples. Coots and moorhens making the most of it. A good start. Roaches glide by and rosehips bob in the hedges – its getting better all the time.
Two or three joggers and a couple in matching cagoules taking up the tow path can be offset by a solitary fisherman or two. The etiquette is that you don’t kick their maggots and they say “good morning.” A good deal that one. I like their makeshift kingdoms.
Pretending that you are minding their maggots you can walk more slowly. Walking slowly gives you a look at the bloke’s flask. It is generally a bloke and his flask is always satisfactorily scruffy. The cup doesn’t match. there’s a dent in the side, it advertises a trade fair that his brother in law went to in the seventies. Here for a time is his manor, estate and country seat. Boundary simple and intent clear. Explanation pointless. Purpose perfect. Pointless and perfect – me too.
I’m not here to get fit, reach a destination or a tryst. I’m at one with the man in the rickety canvas chair. Breath, gaze, think. Sit for a while on a convenient willow. Return full. Full and thinking that some things can be accomplished and some things don’t need accomplishing. The river takes your thankful nod and waits for you to come again and be that excellent thing – a figure on the riverbank.