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Yesterday in Somerset

The Mendips dropped their burden of gutter-thick rain like a thousand miniature storms, hurtling down Tarmac. St Andrew’s Well must have been full to overflowing. In the library, we saw the hand of a twelfth-century monk shake with some distant palsy as he gingerly wrote his name; we saw the Kufic-like scrollings of a Papal announcement; we saw early printed books, their pages left without initials so someone could add illuminations, printed seperately so their eventual owner could add a suitable binding.

Then out and up Tor Hill – yes, Wells has one of everything that Bath and Glastonbury have (indeed the streets combine crusties and posh wives as if selecting the best of both worlds) – crumbling too beneath the rain, great molten scabs of (suprisingly reddish) stone erupting from the black roots that clung around them – and by car along the Old Bristol Road, which cuts a section of High Mendip, where suddenly, briefly things are unnervingly wild, reed-fringed ponds, rough grass and emptiness, and down into the folds of land between here and the Severn, Somerset like a great God’s eye unblinking, these carboniferous triassic hills the folds of a collossal eyelid; great churches by the tear ducts; the Tor in the middle of the all-seeing Level heart land.

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