The Common

In which it becomes clear that Jenny has no real sense of self-preservation.

Last night my sister had a party – a gathering, at least, of all her poetry friends, most of whom seem to wear waistcoats and hats and things. There was storytelling and fire poi and more girl-on-girl kissing than I have ever before witnessed; and lets not even talk about how drunk some of them were before they left. However I had a great time, learnt some guitar-related basics, taught a lot of poi and didn’t get drunk. So, all in all, a pretty great evening. Towards the end of the evening, more and more I wanted to go out and just walk – the stars were amazing, for the city at least (I can only imagine and envy what they must have been like back home) and the moon was bright, half full, in the clearest sky I’ve seen for weeks.

So when the chance came to walk one of the guests home I leapt at it, even though he had a bike and is quite grown up enough to cross the Common at 2am on his own, thank you very much. But there were some books he wanted to lend me, reason enough to walk two completely unnecessary miles – two miles of fascinating conversation and the meeting of minds. If I wasn’t who I am and if things weren’t how they are, I might seriously have started falling for him. But things are how they are, and I am who I am, and that’s not the point of this post.

I left his house and walked back towards the Common, the area of park just outside my house, with the cemetery, several lakes and ponds, woodland and sports fields, a wildlife garden and centre, and children’s playground, all interwoven with tarmac paths, sadly. Not very wild, but perfectly lovely for what it is. I came in through the bottom and found myself wandering into the cemetery, which is wild and Victorian, tumbly and brambly, filled with yews and long grass and stone angels and chapels that, out of the corner of your eye, loom like ruins. A light mist of falling dew hovers over the graves and the moon is casting shadows so crisp that individual blades of grass themselves have shadows. Silence breathes and I am on my own in the middle of it, deliciously slightly nervous and completely and perfectly alone. I walk through the cemetery and have to climb over the gate when I find it locked at the other end.

The Common, too, is lovely. I stick to the unlit paths because I can see quite well enough by moonlight and from here I can see the stars, though not clearly enough to try and work out where Draco is. Cassiopeia and the Plough and Polaris are clear enough and I see what is most definitely a Planet, though I can’t remember which planet it is, just over the horizon though I can’t now remember which bit of the horizon. Dead trees cast dramatic silhouettes over the moon and I hear an owl perched in the huge oak to one side of the Crossroads. The subway seems too bright after all this serenity so I stroll across the near-deserted Avenue, slightly scaring a German lorry-driver. Five minutes later, sadly, I am home, all the lights are off, and it soon turns out that a switch has tripped so before I can make my bed and get into it I have to wander down to the fusebox to sort it out. Anyway, a beautiful evening, despite the light pollution. I know if I tell any of my city friends about this they’ll come back to me with stories about rape and murder and knifings and gangs; but on a night like last night I couldn’t not see it for myself.

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2 Comments

Filed under Happenings, Nightlife

2 responses to “The Common

  1. Cor, you were lucky – last I heard the common was filled with rape and murder and knifings and gangs!

    Having said that, last time I walked on the avenue at that time of the morning I found a 8″ knife on the pavement. Caution isn’t totally unwarranted!

    I had a long walk recently, although it was too light for stars for most of it. It’s lovely to be out by yourself in the night, a rather stark contrast to being a child when being alone in the night was probably the scariest things imaginable…

    It’s interesting how things change.

  2. standingonthebrink

    I definitely love it. Sunset, twilight, the night and sunrise are my favourite times of the day. I don’t think I ever was particularly scared of being alone at night – what I was scared of was being unable to sleep. I don’t know why I found it scary as opposed to tedious (though it was that too).

    I think I may buy a rape alarm or such so that I can go wandering without having everyone on my case when I get back. Or there must be a setting on my phone where I can shortcut sending a ‘help, I am in dire need’ text – my sister’s phone can do that, don’t know about mine.

    I also love those mornings where you wake up horrifically early and just watch the day unfold.

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