What Pegman Saw : A loose thread

 

 

It was a pewter day. The sky was a seamless grey, the same colour as the lake, the water pleated by the wind. This country was flat, cut to shape by hedgerows and rivers, the occasional copse of trees, a shabby gathering of cottages.

‘No hills,’ Gideon muttered, pulling Tinker’s bridle.

Back home, they’d had the black mountains at their backs, an anchor dividing the air from the land.

Out in this wild place a ribbon of trees was all that separated the water from the fathomless sky. Unpick the green thread and the world might unravel. Could he make a life out here, in this unfinished place?

‘Come now, my brooding tailor.’

Kate was beside him. Her belly was showing now, hard and solid as the black mountains of home.

She smiled. ‘Almost there,’ she said, slipping her hand in his.

 


Written for What Pegman Saw, the prompt that uses Google Street View as its source. See here to join in, share, read and comment.

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56 thoughts on “What Pegman Saw : A loose thread

  1. So many lovely images woven in to this piece. Especially love the deft reveal of character in “Unpick the green thread and the world might unravel.” Beautiful as always, Lynn.

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    1. Thank you so much Karen. I had to trim some of the sewing references because I’d thought of too many and it felt a bit laboured, a bit too tailor-heavy! 🙂 So glad you liked it – thanks again

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  2. You fascinate me with this story. You use the prompt as though it was reflected in the lake. Your descriptions give an uneasy, insubstantial feel to the landscape. And I’m so seduced by the dream-like descriptions that I almost forget to wonder why they left the mountains, and where they’ve finished up (Norfolk, in the Broads? or the fens of Lincolnshire?) and why they’ve moved. From the fact that Kate’s belly is showing now, I suspect that she is carrying Gideon’s illegitimate child…
    Super writing Lynn! A really atmospheric story!
    BTW, just in case Gideon’s listening, the answer to his unspoken question is “No”. Been there, done that, got the tee-shirt. Back on the edge of Dartmoor again, thank goodness!

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    1. Thank you Penny. Yes, I’m not sure Gideon is enamoured by his new home, but he has his anchor Kate with him. Not sure if they’re married or not, though I’m guessing back when record keeping was less reliable, it would have been easy enough to pass as married just by moving to another town. I felt the same about Suffolk when I lived there (briefly). I’d moved from hilly Derbyshire and Suffolk was just so damned flat, the sky too BIG, oppressive. I live in Bristol now as you know – an old shipping town with a lot of steep roads. I must just love hills 🙂 Thank you for the kind comments Penny

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  3. Dear Lynn,

    As always your writing is a feast for the eyes. Pewter day is a magnificent description. (I wrote a tailor in my story, too. 😉 ) I always look forward to your stories and saved this one for dessert on the Pegman buffet.

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

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    1. Thank you so much. What a compliment, to be Pegman lunch! 🙂 So glad you enjoyed that line – I was pleased with that I must say. Thank you very much Rochelle

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  4. Like the others above I’m beguiled by your descriptions, Lynn: “the water pleated by the wind” — such an unusual metaphor this, not one I’d have associated with wind but yet so apt — and the “country … flat, cut to shape by hedgerows and rivers” which I can absolutely see, hovering like a human drone above the landscape. And the echo of the mountains in the burgeoning belly just caps it all. Another gem polished to perfection.

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    1. Ah, thank you Chris. I’m so glad you liked the descriptions – I got carried away with an earlier version and crammed too many tailoring metaphors in there and had to cut tons out! Glad you caught the echo between Kate’s belly and the mountains – she’s his anchor, just as the mountains were back home. Thank you very much for the kind comment.

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    1. Thank you Crispina. I haven’t been to Norfolk often, though I lived in Suffolk for a year a long time ago. Too flat! Coming from the hills of Derbyshire, I found those skies too big – fathomless, as Gideon puts it – intimidating in a funny way. I now live in Bristol, which is pretty hilly too! Glad you liked the imagery. Thanks again

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      1. Marsh land fascinates me – it has an ageless quality to it. You could be stepping back 1000 years, expect to see a man paddling a coracle and a raised wooden walkway round every corner. This place looks extraordinary. Must be a tad creepy out there on your own …

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      2. Often when I’m walking along Breydon Water (remains of the estuary, now cut off from the sea by the mud-bank that’s Gt Yarmouth) I imagine what it would have been like to see Viking longships ploughing through the water. Frightening, yet . . . as a writer, food for thought.

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      3. My brain is forever slipping into the past in situations like that – castles, landscapes, country estates, anywhere relatively untouched by modernity. Our own personal time machines, all locked away in our heads 🙂

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      4. Hmm, Maiden Castle, Dorset. I walked the top of the perimeter wall and saw a Celtic defence against approaching Romans. Anachronistic, I told myself and shrugged it away. But it wasn’t; latest research shows it still in use at that time, though maybe only in times of threat. I suppose it all depends on what’s already in your head. Mine’s steeped in Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age through to Medieval History. Like, crammed absolutely full.

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      5. I’d rather like to be in your head! I’m usually a bit later – medieval to Tudor – but I studied some Roman history while doing my degree, so they are often in my mind too! Ah for the Tardis 🙂

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      6. Indeed. That could explain why I’ve written several time-slip stories. Um, three actually, all in the Asaric Tales series. In two, I use the long-living Asars’ memories to return my protagonist to Viking and Norman periods, while for the third I used a ‘scientific’ device to take the protagonist back to the Neolithic. Great fun!

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      7. I’ve written a time travel novel before and what I’m writing at the moment – though set in the modern day – sort of has cheats so I can wander around the past too. Love a bit of history

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      8. I think time-slip is easier to handle than a full-blown historical novel. You only need research those snips. Which somewhat countersays what I’ve said about getting into developing the background. But I wasn’t referring to historically attested backgrounds. I don’t get a buzz from more modern history.

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      9. You’re right, time slip is fun because you can get a flavour of an era without having to research exactly what kind of hat was in fashion that year or who was under secretary to some minister or other. I was reading an interview by Alison Weir the other day and she does REAMS of research for her Tudor novels, but then she is a historian of that period too, so a lot of her knowledge is already in her head from her other job!

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      10. It helps to already be well-informed. I guess you could say I’m well read on the Medieval period, from the loss of Rome through to the Black Plague. Thereafter, things get a bit patchy.

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      11. To read and research a short period of a small place allows one to glow in the sense of authority. Which might account for the number of historians who write about 1066 and all that. Which happens to be part of my favourite period too. Ditto for the Great Danes Army. I’m also hung up on Domesday Survey: reasons for, use made of etc, which might be why the time-slipped element of the story Neve is set in 1086.

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      12. I can’t blame you for being fascinated in that period. Hard to imagine the upset the Norman Conquest had on the country, isn’t it? I’m sure the fallout took a while to reach the most rural parts, but all those Anglo Saxons usurped by Norman lords, all that castle building, the gradual seep of language and culture. I always remember a Melvin Bragg programme about the English language that cited food/farming words as illustrations of a divided nation – pork and ham are of French derivation, pig is Old English, the same for beef and cow i.e the people doing the eating were Norman, the people doing the animal husbandry were of Anglo Saxon descent. A landmark of history handed down to us through language. Will you be trying to see the Bayeaux tapestry when it comes over?

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      13. Alas, no to the Tapestry. I’ll only get uppity. Cos they’re bound to credit Odo, bishop of Bayeux as its commissioner. But why should anyone think that? It is a known fact that he swiped a whole load of artefacts from Engish churches and cathedrals and shipped them to Normandy when his half-brother William banished him from England for his outrageous desire to be made Pope, asking William to sling the support of England behind him, which William refused. Except that the tapestry turned up in Bayeux several centuries later, there is no reason to suppose Odo commissioned it. Rather, it was probably the idea of Queen Edith. She needed to suck up to William. And of potential candidates, only she was party to some of the details shown.
        Oops, see what I mean about blasting off?
        You know, my daughter (who also is interested in History, and is an avid reader) once asked me, jokingly, if the Domesday Book had a good plot. It does. Forget reading the historians; all you need do is read that. Scattered, all the way through, snippets of narratives, glimpses of people’s lives.

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      14. Scholars think it was made by British needlewomen, though no matter who did the paying. I should love to see it though, having seen it so often in reproductions. There’s nothing like seeing an artwork in the flesh as it were. Domesday was an extraordinary achievement, even if it was only a giant stock take of William the Bastards new territories. I wonder if any other stock take has ever been so studied by scholars

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      15. Well, Domesday Survey has certainly been studied down to its most intimate detail. Though still the historians debate of why the survey was undertaken. Was it in preparation of a massive tax bill? A Danish invasion had been imminent, though it never occurred. Was it to help the justicars sort out the increasing number of land disputes. Was it stagecraft, to say, here, this is mine, I am the legitimate owner (which he was not)? That’s just a few of the reasons put forward/ And yes, it would be something to see that wonderful embroidery (note, not tapestry). But until it’s scheduled to come to Norwich, that ain’t gonna happen for me. And so I paw/pore over photographs.

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      16. I’m sure it was a frightening thing in itself, this huge piece of state craft, this all encompassing reckoning of the land – unprecedented as it was. William may well have been a throne stealing bastard but he left us something truly invaluable

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      17. Brilliant. You know I opened a Twitter account (I’ve not exactly been active there), Well, I opted to follow two chaps with Godwinsson-type names. And through one I managed to jump in mid-thread and, not understanding what was being said, ended up in a right royal discussion with what turned out to be Marc Morris, a recognised authority and author (I have his book) on the Norman Conquest, with him arguing for the legitimacy of William’s claims, and me arguing against it. That’s the way to make an entrance! I had no idea it was him; he doesn’t tweet under his real name. That’s sneaky. Anyway, my two Saxon chaps supported me.

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      18. I know Marc Morris from a few TV docs. Ha! Love that you got into a contre temps with him over Will I. I suppose his claims could be legitimised, depending on who you believe re Edward the Confessor’s intentions. I’m with Harold though

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      19. Um, not to my thinking. He cited an extant letter from Pope Clement to William saying of how he supposed Will, as proof. However, said pope was only a cardinal at the time. And having the support of the Pope was no evidence at all. In fact, one of the popes issued a letter to the effect that those involved in the conquest should make recompense for their unlawful taking of the country. Oops. That’s why so many abbeys and cathedrals were founded shortly after the conquest.
        As I understand it, William did believe he’d been named heir by Edward —because Robert de Lumiegres (forgive spelling), and exiled archbishop of Canterbury ca.1061 told him so. However, absolutely nothing to support the claim. Nothing in contemporary annals. Nothing.

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      20. Yea, I have a brother a bit like that. Not seeing him for several years, we collided at a family wedding. ‘Huh’, he says, ‘Thought you’d have made something of yourself by now.’ Excuse me, I thought, I’m a theatre manager, that’s ample for me. He, at the time, was MD of a … I suppose you could call it a multi-national, since it included companies based in several countries including Iceland and the States, and trading world wide. He has since retired from that position to go solo. BTW, he started as an apprentice on the workshop floor.

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      21. Wow! If it’s not to cheeky to say, that was pretty rude of your brother to say that. Though brothers can be pretty good at this kind of thing. When I fell pregnant at 34 my brother said ‘well, most women have kids late because they’re concentrating on their careers, whereas you didn’t have to worry about that’. Put me in my place alright

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  5. This is awesome, Lynn. I especially like the thread image and the anchor. May I ask how much time you spend writing and editing a piece of this length? Just curious, and also slightly voyeuristic. I can’t help looking in open windows when I walk the dogs at night, for example.

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    1. Longer than it probably should do! I think it was about an hour of writing – lots of staring at the Google images first though – writing and rewriting, tweaking, moving text around. I love looking into people’s windows too, those tableaux of lives always look so domestic and cosy. Thank you so much for the lovely comment – it means a lot that you thought so highly of it

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      1. My pleasure – nice to chat about these things. I am by nature a people watcher – always earwigging at conversations on the bus, watching couples in restaurants. I guess all of us who want to scribble are like that. Always looking for the story. Nice to chat Walt

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  6. Gorgeous picture painted here. Stunning opening,
    “It was a pewter day. The sky was a seamless grey, the same colour as the lake, the water pleated by the wind. This country was flat, cut to shape by hedgerows and rivers, the occasional copse of trees, a shabby gathering of cottages.”

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