March 27th, 2003


Tuesday evening, I drove down to my parents' place after work. They now live in the Land of Strange Village Names (Queen Camel? Compton Pauncefoot?) a.k.a. Somerset, which is about a two and a half hour drive from the office if you don't pay close attention to speed limits.

I passed Stonehenge at dusk. On a clear, sunny day, Stonehenge can look most impressive. Even on a sunny but slightly misty day, as it was on my return on Wednesday morning, the stones can loom well, especially with a sprinkling of tourists and sheep to give them perspective. (I think it unlikely that the sheep are themselves tourists. Getting them onto coaches would be tricky.)

At dusk, though, or on the occasions when we've driven past in the rain, the standing stones lose much of their power and glamour, and remind me of nothing so much as a group of winos huddling together, with no shelter nearby, and no way of keeping warm. I half expect to see an oversized bottle being passed from hand to hand, hidden in an enormous brown paper bag.

So many of the 'great' monuments and manmade constructions lose something from their current settings. Stonehenge, while on a slight rise, has roads quite nearby on two sides. It always seems as though it should be atop a larger hill, with only a narrow path leading up to it. The Parthenon's in downtown Athens, being eaten away by smog. The Pyramids are barely out of Cairo's main drag.

My sister had also headed to my parents' house, and had arrived earlier than I; we sat and talked to my mother, had dinner and watched some fairly mindless TV. No matter, it was the company that we sought to provide.

Wednesday passed in the office; the drive back from Somerset went more quickly than the drive down had done, mostly because the first leg could be done in the light rather than the dark (it's an unlit and moderately bendy road that I've only driven a couple of times, so speeds are lower). I was supposed to go with friends to visit the more local of my recuperating friends, but cried off due to being shattered. Could it have been the drive back from Somerset, or having been woken up early by my parents' cats chasing each other noisily around the house at about 7am? Surely not.

And tonight, a reasonably quiet day followed by an evening of doing very little useful, I hope. It's been a very hard week and it's only Thursday.