Beach Box Sauna in the morning. Monday is the actor’s day off after all. Events day off as well, so Lou was sharing some of her Brit Awards lucre. Scaffolding going up near hers so hammering and shouting. We sat in a horse box until it was too hot to be there anymore. Then walked to the sea and immersed, before returning to the horse box. Repeat until they came in with oranges and it was time to stop. Glorious.
It’s half term of course. The sauna was full of mums taking a moment to escape.
Brunch at Café Rust and we moved tables immediately to escape a cloud of sound around people droning on about their property investments.
We ended up in the woods at Stanmer and in the distance, all around us, carried on the wind, we could hear the mindless howling of other people’s children. Oh hell. For this week, they walk among us.
We managed to keep to the high ground, and avoided the worst of it. Returning to the car though we encountered a pack of the damn things trying to pull the branch off an ancient cedar tree while chanting atrocious nonsense. “I’m gonna say something,” says Lou. “It’ll only make them defensive,” I worry. Lou does it and does it well. Tries to keep it mild. The parent takes umbrage with her questioning the behaviour of these absolute shitheads she has bred. We carry on with our day as she closes ranks against us. The children redouble their vigor pulling at the branch, knowing they have the sanction of their moronic parent. “Don’t just pull it harder because she said you shouldn’t,” says the grandmother pitched for us to hear as we walk off. She’s old enough to still think of nature as something to be afforded a smidgen of thought from time to time, and maybe knows a little more about kindness than her daughter. At least they’re out in nature, even if they think it’s something to be torn apart by children shouting about poo.
We drive to Ditchling and drop a mannequin at Lou’s workshop. Returning home I impulsively swing into the Ditchling Beacon car park. The fog is low over the South Downs. The sun is a bright orange fireball rolling into the earth for the night. As we stand there admiring the peace, two men duck in front of us and walk a short distance. A piper and his clarinettist friend. The piper starts to play – to practice. They need a drum but even without they are making ancient sounds here on this hilltop in the fog and sunset, even if its hard to keep time. Lucky timing for us to have stopped to catch this moment. The skirl and drone replaces the memory of those mindless future estate agents attacking the natural world, and Lou and I stand transfixed. They aren’t doing it for us but music flows and twists up here from such a mood-setting thing as the pipes – it makes for the perfect end to a varied and delightful day off for the pair of us. We go home no longer so sad at the state of the world. For every stupid family popping out brats like nineties Hong Kong nightclub girls with ping pong balls, there’s a few people making beauty for no-one in particular. “Let’s go up to Ditching Beacon and see if we can work a duet out with pipe and clarinet at sunset.” Two accomplished musicians, surrounded by nature, adding to nature, sound and spirit mixing with the birdsong and transforming space.
Even in half term, not all of the human noises on the wind are the scaffolding bangs, the drones of dull conversation, the screams of play. We have this incredible propensity to take all these horrible noises we can make and turn them into something beautiful with timing and thought. The bang of the hammer to keep rythm. The drone of the investments to ground the tune. The animalistic scream of the youth to soar as melody. Drum, pipe and clarinet. Music. The Piper at the Gates of Dusk, lightning eyed and cloven hoofed, here on the Beacon where the larks rise in the summer mornings and you hear them all day impossibly high in the blue.