A Short Night Walk Amongst the Living and the Dead.

Reaching the end of the moat, I passed though the Bishop’s Eye, an arch that peers through to the marketplace, the shining cobbles of which contain numerous examples of Jurassic corals. The marketplace itself is a wide square, fronted by a number of more or less ancient buildings, and best known in the mind of the public as the scene of the final shoot-out in Hot Fuzz.

It was also the site of Judge Jeffries’ Bloody Assizes, where our rebels were sentenced to their grizzly ends, and where on September the 3rd, 1753, Susan Bruford was burned at the stake for the alleged murder of her husband. And there, on the corner of the square, Thomas Penn gave a speech from the upper window of the Crown, before jogging off to America and founding Pennsylvania in 1681. It became plain that I’d wandered from the quiet countryside and contemplation of the moon, into the noisy, violent territory of history and civilisation.

But outside these thoughts it was quiet enough. The only sound came from the gutters flowing with clean spring water, reflecting back the glittering lights of the Christmas decorations hanging above the road. I followed the water downhill, and in no time found myself passing under the tower of St. Cuthbert’s again. I stopped and waited by the graveyard a while, listening intently to the darkness, until I was sure the ocarina call had ceased.

Epilogue.

It was January before I discovered the source of the call that had roused me from my bed. I found a YouTube clip on the channel of an artist by the name of Robert Fuller, who had managed to catch it on a nestcam. It’s the mating call of the male tawny owl, who employs it to lure females into a newly acquired nesting spot for her approval. And it sounds like. . .

And thanks also to the supremely talented Ruth McDonald for generously allowing me to include two of her paintings. She can be found at http://www.ruthmcdonald.co/index.html

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