Map of the area to the south of Taunton, West Somerset, England. Corfe to Taunton is roughly 2 miles. The 3-word references (which are also found throughout this document in Bold) mark locations identified using the app What3Words. This app divides the planet into 3m square grids and assigns a different set of 3 words to each square. Somewhere on Earth there’s probably a square called Never Get Lost. I wonder where it is? Oh hang on a minute let’s check…. Looks like there isn’t one. But there is a Never Deft Lost. It’s in Southland, New Zealand just to the east of Rae’s Junction, between Roxburgh and Lawrence (there’s also a Never Debt Lost in the heel of Italy).
Here’s the thing that (according to this memory thread) I liked about 78R: she looked so darned cute in her hairnet. The rest of her show-jumping gear – the jodhpurs and jacket and the little peaked helmet – well those things were all very neat too, but it was the hairnet that really did it for me. In hindsight that probably says a few things about any peculiar leanings I may have in that department, but at the time, naturally, I just thought she looked cute in her hairnet. That and she had a wonky eye. And a double-barrelled surname. Her dad was a Major (just like in Paul McCartney’s Jet) and she went to a public school somewhere in the south of England and, oh boy, at 16 years of age, she was a helluva show-jumper.
I wonder as I wander through these villages, these churchyards, these fields. I’m having trouble with precise locations, vis-à-vis old 78R here. I know the gymkhana took place in a field at the end of a lane in one of two villages. That’s one problem right there. There’s two field-and-lane options and both feel right to me.
The two options are separated by a distance of One Mile as Slow Joe Crow flies. One field (Hangs Reverses Kinks) is situated at the back of Pitminster church (Brings Unclaimed Echo). The other (Soggy Last Farm) is behind the Lamb and Flag pub (Evoked Galaxy Built) in Blagdon Hill. In one of these fields 78Me worked a half-day with a few other village boys for 50p an hour and tea and sandwiches and cake rebuilding the horse-clipped jumps between gymkhana riders. Variable effort entirely dependent on how good the jumper was. 78R was very very good. Clean rounds all day and the clear winner in her category. To the avid approval and admiration of me and the rest of the fence-boys.
My narrative tells me 78R’s house is in the neighbouring village of Trull (Winded Irritated Guessing). But when I get there, later this morning, well, where’s the house? It was ‘old’. That’s the word that I remember. Not much use here. There is an old flint and brick house in roughly the right location and it’s probably the one, but trouble is, again, I don’t recognise a thing about it. I stand in front of it and stare at its windows and walls and door and I try to dredge up the liquid gold of the day I went around to her house and met the Major (well he nodded in my general direction if that counts) and then walked out and up the little hill (Licks Clusters Create) behind her house to a tree upon the roots of which I sat with her for a golden-soft while drowning – ahhhhh - in the caramel pools of her eyes.
Love in the Time of Covid. There’s obviously going to be a lot of play on this over the next few years. Followed, ad nauseum, by the retrospectives and the what-ifs. Here, as 2020Me, bewildered on the hilltop, thrashing through the tangled copse looking for that Special Tree, 78R is still by my side, leading me on to her favourite spot, her Little Miss Muffet’s Tuffet, which now, face it Frog, no longer exists.
There is simply no tree of any stand-out size on top of that hill. There is no Special Tree to sit down under and admire the view over the fields and listen to the blackbirds and wood pigeons. I’m all alone, cut off in dreamland. Ghostly 78R has abandoned me. Down below, the depopulated M5 looks so sad. Thousands of people are dead and diseased on this island. Did it really have to be this way?
UK-born in 1962, Treefrog ‘David’ Sanders is a musician and artist with a peculiar interest in the piano and creative investigations into the world of fluid dynamics. Since 2009, David has exhibited works at venues including the NZ Academy of Arts, Thistle Hall and Ron Barber Gallery. David has also been a member of the Bayview Shelley Bay Arts Collective and the music theatre group, Amalgam. Solo painting shows include Demolition Series (2009), Surface Tension (2013) and Strange Attractors (2017). David lives and works in Wellington, NZ.