Reed Raft Across Mere


How palpably my resignation as a creature
bleats in its distress! How troubled, falling,
clambering the intervallums, that so designated
failure struggles to confess its mess.

An example of a pun to groan at, Reed Raft across Mere Moss is a re-draught of A Draught of Five, as it appeared in A Whole Bauble.

In hindsight it looks to me as if A Lancashire Chimaera, Reed Raft, and parts of Playschool, for three, have a lot to do with their better brother The Fountain Tree. A wordless and musical idea provokes variations on a theme I think of as "Lancashire". I like this idea because I find it so rich in emotions. Kentishfolk may find themselves excused from my rapture. In the realm of intellectual dualities, that of Lancashire-Yorkshire might appear to be the richest. I shan't elaborate on that.

So it's been a bit of a pain to me that when I flush my shit into our tank, it eventually drains to what is rather poshly  known as The German Ocean, while my heart goes out to those who can watch the sun set on the variously narrow seas. And if I seek to check a line on Pennine Moorland I may don my boots and merely look around outside, but if my heart is being washed by the tides and currents of Vergivia, I may have to have recourse to ideals, maps and books. I might take a trip out there every few years. Let me tell you a story.

In the Tower of London, in the early 1840s, worked a certain Colonel, Colonel Colby F.R.S. L&E. M.R.I.A. &c., of the Ordnance Survey. Under him worked the engravers. In the case of south Lancashire and north Cheshire, these are they:

A. Baker, E. George and G. Baker did the outlines. A. Baker and R. Tovey did the hills. The writing was done by J.A. Harrison and J.W. Frogget, and the water by B. Baker. Information for the shoals had been provided by Admiralty Surveys. And Colonel Colby published a compounded map of maps, on cloth, that stretched from The Point of Air in The West to, say, Luddenden in The East; from Gorple in The North to Bollington and Alderley beneath.

And I came by a tattered copy, and for years it became a wonder. I could spend drifting hours in the scope of this map, and I did. It was marvellous, a work of art, only marred by some subsequent rough inking-in of projected railways. The Lancashire border was tastefully tinted yellow, Cheshire with crimson, Derbyshire green. And the bounds of the boroughs were outlined in Prussian Blue. The gentlemen's estates were inked in deepest green.

And this excuse comes with confession of something local, daft, yet close to the heart, the better part of patriotism. It's all been so bad, it's hardly worth blaming anyone.

Shortly afterwards there was a great fire at The Tower, and the operation scarpered to Southampton. Fact.


The Heron Rose toward a Cloud of Gold.
A warmth drawn high in dry expressive air.
And still the bright enigma hangs
        suspended there.


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