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I’m meant to be working on a sequel to Daisychains ( and I am, I am …) but last night, when I found myself awake, I started typing up another of my father’s novels, so they will be available to readers on Kindle. An early one, this time, and probably my favourite. Look at this extract from Ch. 3 of The Devil’s Minister. No wonder I fell in love with the written word:
That journey must be one of the most enchanting – as well as one of the slowest – rail journeys in the world. Especially is it enchanting when the sea is reached and the line winds along the broken coast, by little shingle bays, past rocky headlands, with the sea breaking over the thrift which clings to the crevices of the shattered rocks, with heather and birch and stunted oak growing down almost to the high water mark, and, far away, a mighty panoply of mountains disposed against the sky, patterned by the shifting shadows of the clouds, islands and mainland merged beyond the blue, white-flecked water in a prospect as magnificent as any I have ever known.
On that first day, it made a tremendous impact on me. I have known places infinitely more remote, but few in which one sensed so strongly the tortured chaos out of which the world sprang, the labouring influences of time and nature on its face, the origins of man, with his toe-hold on the shore, struggling to survive on that narrow strip between the sea and the unfriendly hills, but surviving, building up a way of life, creating a culture, working out a philosophy which comprehended man and the unruly sea, the mountains and the wide sky, and then living in that philosophy, happily, for generations, with well-springs of wisdom tapping far back in time to the dark days of his beginning.
In such a place, the past and the present are one. The continuity is there, written by the ice on a piece of stone set in the corner of a cottage gable-end. And men can be humble and proud at the same time, which is an excellent thing – humble, because all but the most foolish of men must be humble before the record of the past, and proud, because they and their fathers have endured and begotten and torn poetry out of the throat of the shouting storm.