Sunday, April 24, 1983


 Susie, Graeme and I went for a three-hour walk up Gaunt’s Hill.

We took the path I ventured up last term through the woods and eventually came out on a road near a farm. The horizon unfolded around us, the road curving ahead of us up towards the summit of the Hill, and away to the left, distant chimney stacks marking Langridge, the sea grey and hazy beyond. The road skirted a field littered with chips of flint and we followed it up to a car park at the very top of the Hill which was busy with little family groups of Sunday afternoon trippers with dogs and kids and balls.

The wind roared in from the sea battering our ears making them ache. The summit was flat and well-trodden with good views across the green countryside towards London. Here and there were sheep-sprinkled fields, copses of dark trees and clusters of houses, an occasional church spire punctuating the flatness—a wide green land bathed in bright sun beneath a cloud-smudged sky. We were standing on the leading curl of a wave of hills and hollows which rose and fell back towards the misty sea horizon and seemed about to inundate the flat pastoral plain which was spread before us.

We headed back, easy going on the path of firm green short turf, the smell of the grass and the wind reminding me of walks high up in the rugged wilds of Yorkshire. The University lay hidden among bare trees and all the petty worries and concerns of that place seemed so unimportant when set against all this enduring vastness.

Shelley cropped up in our conversation as we walked: the friendly, open mood and willingness to work Shelley had shown to Susie before the term began is replaced with aloofness, elitism and condescending comments. Susie's just generally pissed off with the whole thing, seeing no need for “rudeness and selfishness.” I thought of my own closed door.

There are so many problems living here: I hate the petty self-indulgence and narrow-mindedness. They should’ve set the student accommodations high on top of Gaunt’s Hill to give we inmates a view and a relationship with the world outside and to keep us mindful of the existence of people and places other than a campus full of students. We have been given a never-to-be-repeated opportunity to discover so many things—yet how many of us actually do anything meaningful with our time? How many, me included, just piss about wastefully?

We dropped down through fields, the path passing tangled bare woodland, dotted with yellow gorse and brambles. Once we were enclosed by hedges and trees it was hot and still and Peacock butterflies chased one another or sunned themselves by the side of the road. We also saw a Red Admiral and an unidentified white butterfly. Susie asked me whether or not it was true that butterflies lived only a day.

We got back to find the University drowsing under a hot sun, many people out sunbathing or playing with frisbees. There was a restless, active atmosphere inside Wollstonecraft and I wasted the afternoon in the kitchen or sleeping in my room.

A week has passed already. In one respect the time has rushed by, but in another—and a lot of people agree—it seems as though we’ve been here for years. Things haven’t gone too badly so far.

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