Monday, September 26, 2011

On A Whim, A Letter To Pauline

Dear Pauline,

I hope all is well with you and Simon. It’s been almost ten years that I finished at Maidstone Girls’ Grammar School, and J finished at Maidstone Hospital. I’ve been thinking about England a lot, but no more than usual. I still miss it terribly and what a beautiful year J and I spent in Maidstone in 2001.

I still remember arriving at Bearsted Station in the pouring rain, then to be met by Simon. I felt a tingling excitement to be in England at last. It was getting late if I recall correctly, and in the morning I will never forget sitting in your conservatory, cradling the thick ‘villages of Britain’ book on my lap, searching hungrily for information about little Kent villages, noticing Leeds (which was close by),  and Edenbridge in particular.

I have such a fondness for little details about our stay that I will never forget. Playing games with your two beautiful cats on the stairs. Walking with gum boots in the expansive back yard  with grey skies overhead. Seeing Simon in his workshop and going to see films at the cinema in Maidstone. We were even going to the gym regularly then. And those great day visits to places like Chartwell and Sissinghurst, and Marden to see Caroline and the kids.


And of course teaching at MGGS which has been the best year I have ever had as a teacher because the students were wonderful and the school was run in such a supportive, civilised fashion which you do not often experience.

It is early as I write and I woke this morning with the urge to get something down, because my dreams were filled with England last night. A lot of the time I was standing by a harbour or a beach in some undisclosed place that could have been Cornwall. I was alone and watching the dark waves crash violently, as in ‘Break, Break, Break’ by Alfred Tennyson. The sky was pale and my emotions were surging. I felt like the figure in ‘Monk By The Sea’ in the picture by Caspar David Friedrich.


I hope we will all see each other again soon. Well before it becomes twenty years, at any rate.

Much love, DH XXX


- Leeds, Kent is where Leeds Castle is. Van Morrison played a gig there about two months before we left.
- Edenbridge, Kent is where D H Lawrence used to visit not long after his marriage to Frieda. He stayed in a house called The Cearne, owned by his mentor Edward Garnett who played a big role in Lawrence's earliest publications and became an early editor.
- Chartwell, as in the principal home of Churchill and his wife from 1922.
- Sissinghurst, as in the fabulous garden and property owned by Vita Sackville-West and her husband Harold Nicolson from 1930.
- 'Monk By The Sea', Caspar David Friedrich, 1809 (German Romanticism) - all about, it seems to me, how small we are in the vast Universe- just one tiny grain of sand.

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