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Another Fragment. - Wemyss's Appalling Hobby:
From the Party Guilty of Committing 'Gate of Ivory, Gate of Horn'
Another Fragment.

Slough, Langley, Colnbrooke, Poyle, Little Whinging, Stanwell Moor, Staines.

Motorways, reservoirs, and the appalling noise of Heathrow, and Muggle aeroplanes screaming overhead.

Londis and Costcutters, and the unforgotten echoes of Aunt Petunia’s bitter complaints of having to go to Rite Price to find even an excuse for a decent local greengrocer and having to send or all too often go all the way to Slough, to Woodlands Bakery, for proper bread and to Blanchards the butcher, and to Iver for a farm shop and as far as Windsor to find a reliable fishmonger, O’Driscoll’s, and how ever did Vernon expect her to manage Gracious Entertaining under these constraints and now that that wretched freak of a boy was off their hands, why ever did they not move to a Lovely Home Commensurate With Their Undoubted Status.

Chavs in Burberry caps and scarves loitering aimlessly ‘dahn the High’ (the High Street, Aunt Petunia sniffed, Was Not What It Was).

Aunt Petunia clearly yearned increasingly for a move further away, into Berks if possible, or, if in Surrey, to a Better Neighbourhood, south the River. She was hardly a countrywoman, and the Very Idea of leaving the safety of the Home Counties for the Wild Provinces would have frozen her very marrow, but Staines … the very name sounded vaguely soiled … and as for the Swans, Staines Massive, Ali G, Hard-Fi: the town was known increasingly for The Worst Elements. It was little wonder that she turned her face resolutely away from Staines and the borough of Spelthorne and the very county of Surrey, even in choosing shops, and fantasised about Gracious Living in Berks (not Slough, of course, but somewhere near Ascot, or Bray, or the Cookhams, say).

For his part, looking at the scenes once bitterly familiar to him, Harry felt himself Disillusioned in more than the magical sense. How meagre it all was, to be sure; how mean, and petty. There had been a village here, once, a Place, a community with its own pride and its own ways. There had been mills and parks, rides and hythes, farms and churches, where now there were only the memories of those things, preserved as in amber by being attached, thoughtlessly and forgetfully, to the names of streets. This had been a Place, once. Now, it was simply a waste-product of meaningless prosperity. The Fox, the Bell, the Anchor, the Crown: no matter how evocative the name, the local public houses were soulless, as if Dementors could suck the genius loci from what had once been a community. There might be horse-brasses – probably imitation – on the walls, but the soil hadn’t known the tread of a plough-team in endless years. There might be inferior copies of old hunting prints, but fox, horse, and hound no longer trod this earth, where any earth remained unpaved, un-built-on, breathing. The trophy fish on any wall was painted plaster.

The land was rendered dumb, mute and inglorious, with no magic left in it to answer his own or any Wizard’s. Even from the River, only the faintest wisp of magic could now be felt, evanescent as a mist.

Once, this had been a Place. Now, it was simply a waste-product of meaningless, urban prosperity, gimcrack prosperity accidentally engendered by London town.

He watched, sadly, with eyes that had seen too much for his years, and gained wisdom beyond those years in partial recompense, as Petunia, never seeing his Disillusioned presence, went about her morning round, sourly, her very movements impatient and sharp. He felt a gentle touch on his elbow, and then a warm hand slipping gently into his own. He nodded, and squeezed back, knowing that neither of them could see the other, knowing also that they did not need to see one another to know one another’s thoughts. He had said his last farewells to the scenes of his misery. It was time to return to the Summer Country, time to return to the un-built and untainted land that still breathed magic. It was time he and Draco went home, to the home of magic, into the West. They Disapparated, with a crack, hand in hand.

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5 comments or Leave a comment
the_gentleman From: the_gentleman Date: October 24th, 2005 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, quit dissing my county! :D
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 25th, 2005 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

Come, Come.

You yourself, as a 'rural lad at heart', know that I'm skewering urbanisation.

(Well, all right, I'm also engaging in regional one-upping, but I did manage to get that first sentence out without actually sniggering.)
the_gentleman From: the_gentleman Date: October 25th, 2005 02:30 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Come, Come.

I'm over in the Kennet Valley when I'm not in Nottingham, so I'm at least far away from the Slough of Despond et al. Though, my parents are Paludians born and bred.
wemyss From: wemyss Date: October 25th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

Well, You Show Good Taste.

Head up the Kennet to the Kennet & Avon Canal, take that in the correct direction, and you'll make it to Paradise yet.

(Yes, I am an extremely partisan Moonraker, why d'you ask?)

Nothing wrong with Berks (not berks, Berks), really, and I'm certainly not barracking your Venerable Ancestors. Were they Old Paludians as well, as in, Slough Grammar School, by any chance? I ask because, although I haven't any stakes in the match, really, I'm mulling over the ruination of education resulting from wrecking the old grammar schools in favour of these bog-standard state schools (there may be an essay coming of this. Did you know, for example, that Bishop Wordsworth's School, in the Close, has a 20-point lead in 'A Level Points Per Pupil' over bloody Marlborough? And is only 40 points off pegging level with Eton).
From: (Anonymous) Date: October 25th, 2005 04:37 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Well, You Show Good Taste.

I believ my mum was an Old Paludian. Not sure about my dad.

(And you're probably right. I was at a former Grammar- St Bartholomew's- which was systematically destroyed in my last few years there by its transformation in to a Specialist School of "Business and Enterprise". I got out just in time. My brother is still there.)
5 comments or Leave a comment