Thursday, December 21, 2006

In the Road

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Strange changes of mind have been happening to me recently. It seems like every time I venture out of the door something happens whereby my original plans are thrown out, replaced by new ideas and intentions. I have just sold my car and this has meant that recently I have had to make more use of the local paths and roads to get around.

I had decided to go out into town to get some essentials and when I was there I suddenly made the decision, without any real reasoning, even though I had not yet bought the list of things that I had intended to, that I wanted to make my way back home and not wander around town any longer.

I paced up the road on the way back feeling the rain clouds slowly closing in on me and my wish to get home became ever more urgent. With every step of my boots the gradient of the pathway seemed to increase in steepness, to a point that when I passed the school at half way I had to stop and take a breather.

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Sitting on the bench, looking around, I spotted a women spewing out a full bucket of soapy water onto the road surface, its suds trickling on the slopes, her head disappearing as quickly as it had appeared behind the tall walls that formed a part of the roadside. The water made an expressive mark, dribbling across the road.

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I felt the urge then, to step out, into the road. For the moment I thought it was all clear.
Once in the middle of the road its flow of bumps and patchworks became more evident. With one ear to the sound of a roaring engine behind me I inspected the river of marks and abrasions lying stiff and dormant at my feet. The earth had moved below the tarmac and a series of ripples had formed. I spotted signs of movement in the different coloured patchworks and recently laid sections of tar. I felt that people had marked out certain areas as if for special consideration, to designate that area or this area for future plans, to further the development of the road surface.

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The fluorescent yellow colouring of the grid might have meant that it was only to be used in emergencies, that take place at night time, the pattern of the top attempting to mimic loosely the structuring of the surrounding gravel, muck and stone-inlayed tarmac. Workmen, for their part, had obviously attempted to leave a mark by pressing boots into the recently painted grid before it was dry, in 1995, for time immemorial.

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Many variations of shadow and texture made up this lower grey deserted area, marking out a history of incidents and accidents, of gouges and pot holes covered up and pasted over, being continuously re-knitted to form an ever larger and more detailed patchwork.

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The scored surface was pressed into to make openings like an advent calendar. Strange puppet heads could appear when lifted up? Some clue perhaps in the top markings, a mystery language to mark out one ductile plate from another. The ground is hard and stubborn under foot yet appears moulded like as if it were made of wet toast or worn leather?

Could there once have been a melting and a pouring, then a spreading all over being topped off topping off with sewn-on plates varying extravagantly in size and dimension?

The molten material had perhaps engulfed everything in its path and descended, as a river of dirt, down the hill. That would explain the apparent chaos of the undulations and the odd bits of clothing still showing through the surface in parts?

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The clouds above clustered together and turned a darker shade of grey with the sunlight burning through, glancing off the wet tarmac, welding together the fine pores of the surface that looked, at that moment, quite like the texture of a well done cake just pulled from the oven.

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The hill becomes steeper and my slow walk peters to a standstill. My legs are so tired that I feel they are going to drop off at any moment.

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Standing there, I close in to inspect the grade A metal that is stamped into the Autumn ground, scraping away the leaves.

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They have underground people in New York don't they? I was expecting a figure to pop his head up at any moment and shout a greeting. He had left his folding knife by the doorway, which a stranger might perceive is an insignificant piece of cardboard.

I framed some passing strangers through my lens but then changed my mind.

Glad to get past the worst of the hill. I was now just around the corner from home, looking forward to getting in, all these unnecessary detours had worn me out.

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I dumped myself inside and having taken my shoes off and put my aching legs in the bath to soak, I started thinking about getting something to eat.

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