It was a heatwave. Elton John & Kiki Dee’s perky Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, was top of the pops pretty much the whole summer, with Elton looking rather more wired than Fozzie Bear to Kiki’s, ‘air-head brunette’ ragdoll, Jemima, from Play Away. Dr. Hook’s persistent, un/easy listening hit – A Little Bit More – is also worth a browse if only for the incredibly low cost, camp-country video that accompanies it. It is a better song than the number one &, if Capitol had believed just ‘a little bit more’ in the notion of promotion then, perhaps, it would have nudged Elton & Kiki from the top spot. That said, they’re both pretty good examples of the state of the nation.
We kept goats. They lived in the mossy wooden stockade, not unlike Captain Flint’s, hidden in the undergrowth & half-tumbled over the cliff edge. Dad had built the stockade from scrap for us to play in &, several summers before, we would have camped there, but for the billy & nanny who had taken up residency within its walls. Instead, we camped beneath the tarp strung between two Beech trees.
They enjoyed scrambling over the cliff edge & onto the desolate and sunken area known as Black Ven – which is sometimes spelt with an extra ‘n’ – In many ways, now that I mention Flint, Cliff House, with its rugged garden, its remove from the village & the bay 300 feet below – with The Cobb out to the west & The Bill to the east – was our Treasure Island.
When not in the stockade, when not roaming Black Ven/n, the goats were tethered each to 10′ lengths of rope. One end hitched to one of the many trees in the wild cliffside garden, the other to a collar around their neck. This allowed them to graze all day. By end of the week a series of perfect circles formed – each intersecting the previous.
Black Ven/n isn’t black, it’s blue. A dozen acres of land that slid, piecemeal, one afternoon in 1927, one hundred feet toward the sea. Previous to this it had been the coast road between Charmouth and Lyme Regis. This was our playground, among the twisted trees, the gorse, the adder nests, the scraps of the victorian dump, the rabbit warrens, the hardsand caves, the fossils unearthed for the first time in millions of years, the dead rot foxes and deer in the blue lias swamp, the broken glass, the iron cannonballs that crumbled underfoot, the ghosts.
This was the summer of the UFO.
My skin, I notice, is beginning to lose its elasticity.