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  • Writer's pictureMike Gould

A message from the Long Man

The end of 2019 was difficult, the domestic mirroring the political & I’m glad to see the back of it. Good too to get out in the fresh air.

Being a full-time writer can be a solitary business. For many years, I did other things

as well as write - working with schools, lecturing, consultancy etc so had quite a few social networks, and an escape from the desk. Much though I love writing, I need the physicality of action - whether that is a simple walk round the block, a bike ride - or in today’s case - a long tramp around the South Downs, revisiting the spot where we used to take the children for picnics, sitting betwixt the Long Man of Wilmington’s sturdy thighs.

Now, disturbing the ancient chalk lines is frowned upon so I respectfully follow the path and observe him from a distance. There is something reassuring in his immutability and his connection with my past. I remember visiting the same spot as a child when we holidayed in Sussex in the late 60s. Perhaps I now connect him with that mindfulness concept of finding peace not because the world is still, or waiting for it to become so, but in accepting what life brings you for what it is.

So, rather than looking back at the sad events in our own lives of 2019 with rancour or anger, instead accepting that they happened - that life for me at least will go on: the Long Man will still be there at the end of next week, whether I can see him or not.

As I neared the end of the walk, crossing the plain that sits behind Wilmington village, a bird suddenly flashed up out of the knee high vegetation at my side. Rust coloured with a flashing white tail or rump, it was too big for a wheatear and flitted, its tail buzzing in the cross wind, across the field like a tiny dambuster.

And with it my mood lifted. I’m sure the Long Man nodded his head gravely, acknowledging the rebirth of the new year.

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