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Season of Mists, Bottomless Swamps of Doom, and Eerie Fruitfulness (A very gentle entry)

Tuesday 15th October. It's autumn again, disturbingly warm (again) and very moist. Sloppy, almost . . . A walk in woods changing colour, to forage for sweet chestnuts, and through amazingly green fields, liberally sown with giant Parasol & field mushrooms. It's an incredible year for edible funghi, overblown, sodden with rainwater, but fried down in hot butter they're still pretty tasty. And perfectly free of insect infestation . . .Funghi are so fast ripening and fast collapsing in this kind of weather, maybe there's nothing sinister about that. But all this summer I have noticed, idly picking blackberries from hedges and from woodland undergrowth, in Sussex and in Surrey, this eerie absence. Not a single dreaded grub in the ripe fruit. Even the lowliest, most ubiquitous country lane invertebrates are giving up on us.

My Library Books.
A Japanese ghost story, set in an imaginary, contemporary, Japanese town, by a Singaporean first novelist. I picked it out because I liked the cover, but Clarissa Goenawan's Rainbirds has survived the goodreads treatment, so hopefully she is a writer to watch (= there will be more of these). Inevitably, readers have recalled Murakami, (because it's allegedly Japanese, and a bit off kilter) but I got tired of Haruki Murakami a while ago, even before he reached his don't drop it on your foot phase, and to me this dreamlike narrative seemed fresh, and floating, or ungrounded, rather than alienated. I thought of another Japanese writer, Kazuo Ishiguro & The Buried Giant a misty, off kilter take on Arthurian Britain, in which everyone seems either asleep, or making the journey the dead make, to wherever they go, while dreaming the action . . . No, I give up, I can't explain the charm, you'd have to try it and see. & yes, those are goldfish, not any kind of birds on the cover, and no, I don't really understand about the "rainbirds", but they're in there.

Silence, Anthony Quinn. Poetic style, slow motion action, and everything seems to happen in grey pouring rain or darkness, or both. .. A grim, gloomy and bloody "historical case" cop story, thoroughly grounded this time, in the border country of Northern Ireland, years after, but still haunted by The Troubles. Very violent in parts, and with a final revelation that maybe doesn't quite work out, about the mean-minded, respectable bigotry that can lie hidden behind the worst atrocities. Sheep are important characters, guardian spirits, and watch out for the little black hen: comforting, precious and imperilled companion for our tired cop hero; I think she represents Ireland.

Second episode of "Tales of the Condor Heroes" a martial arts epic by Jin Yong (who died last year). I love the "Tales of the Condor Heroes". and I liked this second episode even better than the first. Caveat, possibly you have to have watched "The Water Margin", or at least enjoy Kung Fu movies. This is not High Fantasy, Western style. Don't expect "The Lord Of The Rings". The characters may be fantastical, or performing fantastical feats, but they can be crude and vulgar; they have no compelling sense of mission, beyond being true to the code, and don't feel themselves central to the great story of China that's unfolding around them. My favourite (inevitably) is cheerful and indomitable Jade Huang (Or "Huang Hong", I don't mind the mixture of Western & Chinese-style names, it seems natural enough). Not all cosseted gangster princesses turn out like Ivanka. It's very touching to watch her growing up, and learning to accept that sorrow and loss are real . . . Is it because we have become aware that our lives must be fleeting?

These young cattle (top picture) were very friendly, seeing us as interesting compary, and following us across their muddy field to have their polls rubbed, over the gate. I mention this because there've been bad incidents involving cattle and walkers, this year in Sussex. I suspect, I may be wrong, that it's because some people still, despite all pleading, have their dogs, even multiple dogs, off the leash in pasture, where animals are grazing. It's not okay, and your dog is not different. And there's another autumn, almost gone, and still this bottomless Brexit swamp is drowning us. Most of us (a voting majority) now want to stay in the EU, but (as of now) we aren't going to get a vote. But nothing's settled. Who knows, maybe the snake (the one that winds its way around the halls of power tomorrow, doggedly and gently repeating its only trick) will become a dragon!

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