Burgess Hill. Written by Tony Chapman
A village under the blue sky of a summer’s day. White clouds puffed up and sailed, bobbing along, over the whale-backed hills. The green hills with moving shadows, cast by the sun, the beautiful, soft gentle curves and sweeps. Little trees and gorse bushes grew like freckles. In them the red crowned linnet nested and from them the little grey nightingale rose into the sky. The nightingale rose just before dawn, as the sun came up, like a feather falling heavenward, the little grey bird climbed and sang waterfall warble of liquid pleasure of pure silver song.
Then, stretching away in a slow slope were fields. Dark green, light green, yellow with wheat, they waved in ripples like strange seas as warm breezes ran over myriad ears of corn.
Hedges seperated the fields and at short intervals on the patch work quilt an uneven square was filled with trees. These were small woods that teemed with wildlife.
A red fox, his eyes two fireflies, his tail straight out behind, with its white tip streaking, ran at high speed across a field and was swallowed up by blackberry laden bushes.
A crow cawed creakily from the top of a dead oak whose smooth white branches stuck out above the lush green of surrounding trees and, as if the wind up there became too strong, the great bird with blue-black wings tumbled into the sky.
A sparrow hawk hung and quivered in the air for some minutes then flew on a while, only to hang again, like a small brown cross about to drop from its hanging.
A cuckoo cuckood somewhere within earshot and a blackbird flew low across a road, rattling out its alarm call.
Clipclop clippity clop, hooves clattered, a cart-horse with Mr. Birdwood the farmer from Burdock farm came trotting along. Flies buzzed round the old horses nose so it snorted and shook them off, but they were back again before it had finished shaking. The farmer chewed some hay and blinked away an impertinent fly himself.
The two of them made their way to his farm. Up the track to the farmhouse. Its thatched roof and wobbely chimney stood out against the blue sky behind.
There was a green duckpond with geese and ducks waddling about. Swallows swooped and stung the water. Gorse bushes popped up here and there. Heather grew further from the farm and bees hummed in strange harmony among its blue and purple fingers.
“I dont like it.”
In the farmhouse kitchen the farmer pulled up a coarse wooden table.
“Between you and me dear. I dont like it at all .”
“what dont- you like, husband?” asked his wife as she took from an oak beam of the ceiling a strlng of onions. The farmer lit his clay pipe and continued.
“how long have we been here? All my life thats how long and before me my father and before him his father so what do they want to build a road right around our farm for? We’ve never needed one before. I tell you it will be the end of us all.”
“Yes dear husband. Now here’s your dinner.”
She set before him a large plate of steaming food and walked to the kitchen door. Strong muscular arms showed out of rolled up sleeves, her long dress touched the floor and her pinifore protected it from the cooking. Her rough work worn hands picked up gong and hammer. Dong ding dong ding resounded over the farmyard. The chickens were used to the sound, they just clucked and carried on pecking grit. But further out amongst the ferns, on the common a ferret froze and listened, then flashed into the thick grass. A startled pheasant in red and brown plumage whirred across the flat expanse of ferns. The common stretched out over the horizon except where cultivated fields took its place.
Ben Birdwood, one of the farmer’s sons, was felling a tree. He rested on his axe awhile, mopping his brow with a handkerchief. The farmhouse was minute, far away across the hedges and streams and rust coloured undergrowth. A faint dong ding dang ding drifted on the summer breeze. Ben sighed, “phew dinner at last.”
He trudged across the bumpy earth. His axe over his broad shoulder, whistling. Suddenly, to the left of him there was a loud splash.
“What’s that I wonder? best go and have a look.”
Behind a little clump of gorse Ben found a pool of water. With ripples (going] in circles as if a great body had fallen in the moment before. Ben squatted down to look closer. Far off. Much further than the farmhouse, a cuckoo sang. Ben looked closer, Ben looked harder, his rough face puzzled, his forhead wrinkled in amazement (puzzlement).. For what Ben looked at, as the water settled, was a reflection
A reflection of what seemed to be a landscape. There was the (Same.)shape of the hills but they were covered with square blocks like strange kinds of houses. Thousands of little windows made square patterns on these blocks. But these blocks didn’t only cover the hills, they covered the whole landscape. All different heights jutting out over each other brown, black, grey, “so much grey” thought Ben. He studied the scene in the pool, stupified, hypnotized, unable to take his eyes off the brilliant realistic image. There were clouds in the sky in the pool and also little shapes, silver, glinting, flying about, lots of them weren’t birds. Ben could tell they were too big. Then the scene started to move. He saw the hill disappear into the left hand bank, just from under a clump of wiry grasses, and a little yellow flower, came the sea. Ben knew the sea instantly. “Aha,” he said out loud, noticing the waves crashing against white cliffs and noticing on the very edge of these cliffs, great buildings. Then he took in the pool, the grassy bank and the reflection.
The reflection. His head turned slowly (up) to(ward) the sky and his eyes saw: just a pure blue sky. Ben jerked his eyes back to the pool and saw: just a plain old pool of water. He leapt up (into the air) looking everywhere.
“but, but, but ….”
Benan Bridwood came down the escalator squeezed between two fat people. As usual the escalator was crammed full of people, as was the moving pavement outside his giant grey block of flats. He bought some instant potatoes, some instant bread, three bottles of freshly roasted oxen, (tablet form of course), and a bottle of imitation water, (a luxury in this day and age).
Smash! Benan dropped it onto a synthetic paving stone; and just before six hundred pairs of feet splashed the water to nothing, Benan saw a reflection in it, as real as a cini-smelli-soundi-scope. Hills with green grass lit by a sunny summer’s day, there were trees and hedges and ferns and birds and animals and nature and one little farmhouse then there was a splash and it was gone.