Set fire to flames

Posted Fri 24 Sep
1 comments so far

A story from the past, wending it ways into a moment of the present.

Sometime ago, way back when Cambridge-Town’s Platonists hadn’t annoyed me so, I was in my usual exploratory mode. You know, new city, wander around, see what there is in the dark and interesting corners. In this instance, I was intrigued by the austere flatness of it all. Of course, the flatness means any high points are fair game for fauxtographers.

Don’t get so distressed
If the good life won’t arrive
You’ve been reading S.O.S.
When it’s just your clock reading 5:05

Back in those days, my dalliance with Caitlin hadn’t started. It would soon, the reasons for which I will mention in a paragraph to come. Or maybe this one, I am not sure, I am, as per usual, doing the brane-to-finger-to-textbox flow of thoughts. Actually, this wasn’t in my first flush of Cambridgshire dealings, as I had moved from a necklace village north of the city to one in the south. Which explains why I was aware of the hill. It protruded into my journey to work.

And why are you so possessed
By the thought that she got free
And why are you figuring who’s the best
When just your luck ran out
and she chose me

Back to the story. As I didn’t have an awesome 70s sportscar with no roof, I was still on the motorbike. Full gear, all sleek and black, all power. Sometimes I wonder why I changed from the raw roar of a leather-and-chains chick to a stately lady. Sometimes I would like to go back. Or have both. A bit of rough and a bit of posh. Moving on…so I was on the bike. As it happens, it was taking me as long to get geared up as I was on the bike, which was the reason I fell in to the (topless) bosom of Caitlin. Ha! Explanation in the very next paragraph. At least there was an explanation, not that it was overtly interesting.

We do not lie side by side
and mock the thought of you
And I don’t take her hand and ask
Is this what he used to do?

Imagine then, if you will, a biker, in full gear, on a black-and-silver roaring rebel machine. With a heart filled with wide angle city images. While not particularly a classic Cambridge view, given it overlooks a school towards the hospital, from the layby at the top of Lilm Kiln Hill (or Limekiln Road as it is officially known, I think) affords an opportunity for some wideangled night long exposure shots. Therefore I loaded Amahlia, tripod, lenses and as much pretension as I could muster into my backpack and set off for work.

Cos I just want to free her from
Your jails of jealous dreams
‘Cos at least a house when it’s empty
Stays clean

Given this was late autumn, I knew it would be dark on the way home. Exactly the right conditions for the shots I wanted to get. Crisp atmosphere, dearth of streetlights around site, a nice panoramic view. Oh yes, I could hit quite a few cliches in one go. I mentioned my plans to a few people on my way out of the office, and a few eyebrows were raised. I just thought they were thinking I was being a beret-wearing pseud. But that has never stopped me before. I suffer for my art.

I won’t pretend
That I was simply swayed
It was a two way thing not a
Three day fling
No secrets kept, no truth betrayed

Off I go, leaving the office, one left turn and up the hill. Yes, it is a real actual hill. In Cambridge. I have cycled over it, too. Yes, it is more than a gentle incline. Honest. Up to the layby, park up the bike. that graphite sports can made quite the noise, oh yes. There are a few cars, two on the opposite side layby, one tucked in the corner of where I stopped. This is not unusual, I pass by that way every night and always see a car or two out there. I hop off the bike, and start to fiddle about setting up the camera. Changing lenses, extending tripod, the usual sort of thing.

And here’s the house that held
The nightmare that went on
And you’re sitting there wishing you’d never been born
With that self-inflicted crown of thorns

Then things got a bit…strange. The car on my side of the road flashed his lights, and the engines of the two on the other side started up, followed by the fzzzzzzzzz of electric windows winding down. There was some coughing, and doors opened. Again, the lights flashed at me, and I start to get concerned. More coughing, so I decide now is not the right time for this, pack up the camera gear and ride off, pondering on having come across a drugs deal or something. Last thing I wanted was to be caught up in some bust or other. (Oh look, he made an unintentional funny. Which makes sense second time round for you, perhaps.)

We do not lie side by side
and mock the thought of you
And I don’t take her hand and ask
Is this what he used to do?

I get to work the next day, and am relating my incredulity and this aborted escapade to my fellows in the office. No one is suprised. The more sniggers there are, the more I start to click. So it wasn’t a drugs bust, eh, and everyone around knows what that spot is used for. And it isn’t photography. Well, it is, but not the sort I wanted. At that point. Hohoho, all very hilarious. As an aside, while the top of Limekiln Road is the spot for walking the dog, the spot to take the mistress to (at three in the afternoon, apparently), is indeed the carpark at the place where I walk the dog.

Cos I just want to free her from
Your jails of jealous dreams
‘Cos at least a house when it’s empty
Stays clean

To bring this up to date, I wend the same path to a school sports hall on a Wednesday eve, to put the old bones through kicking contortions. This is a recent addition to the kicking contortion classes I do, so it hasn’t really been dark until now. Which can lead to only one thing, really, those sorts of bizarre exhibitionist come out again. Now, if that is what they want to do, fine, far be it for me to say they shouldn’t. Maybe not in a totally public place, but hey. Whatever turns you on.

I won’t pretend
That I’m the saviour of the innocent and bad
But put two withered old blooms in a couple of rooms
And they’ll behave like lunatics
and crave what makes them sad

But there are some things, some things, that shouldn’t really be done in public. Smoking while eating (on the bonnet of a car, to quote some prophetess from some film you won’t have seen), two young ladies servicing while the bloke is sipping from a can, several more wandering around in skimpies, all very base. Now, that sounds very common, but this is Cambridge, so the cars weren’t souped up Novas, but an A6, Volvo estate and some Land Rover behemoth, and the cans were probably filled with a fine 1982 port. And cigars, natch.The fact the layby is on a bend, so you sweep round with full beam on, doesn’t help. The whole scene in full relief. Another unintentional funny there, if you are a fan of 80s puppet standup.

So here’s a card that says
Happy twenty-second birthday and I wish you were dead
And here’s a house that held
a bevy of devils and an angel as well

Gosh. People are strange, no?

And you want what I’ve got
When all I’ve got is guilt
And a room that won’t stay still
Filled with pockets full of crumpled up money and
a mantelpiece littered with bills
‘Cos at least a house when it’s empty
Stays clean

(As for the obligatory lyrics, I was going to go with the glorious Emmylou, but that seemed a bit…obvious.)

  1. I would like to say that I have found this writing style to be one of considerable genius. Lines such as “Full gear, all sleek and black, all power” capture the very essence of middle age in Cambridgeshire. I would like to commend you on your potrayal of a woman in crisis.

    Yours truly,


    Rage Nicey
    Thu 20 Jan, 11:38AM

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