I’d a long run yesterday. At one stage I skirted a field. A big man walked towards me with a bloody big spanner and said: “There’s no right-of-way here.” I said I’d permission from the farmer. He said that farmer didn’t own that field.
Then we had a chat about weather and crop yields, as you do. He was a gentle man and happy to chat. But then said: “I must be getting on. I’ve that damn Harvester to fix.” So that’s what the spanner was for. He also gave me permission to use the field anytime.
I reflected on the conversation as I ran. I hadn’t noticed the Harvester. All I saw was a big man with a very big spanner. I know you can read too much into an incident like that but I’ve never met an angry farmer so why my initial anxiety?
It’s ubiquitous nowadays, every conversation kidnapped by politics, scary economics, racism, just bad news. It’s morphing into an underlying fear that literature will reflect on in the future about this period. Hmmm. Maybe I should just write poems about it and stop complaining!
The poet Rabindranath Tagore, known as the Bard of Bengal and 1913 Nobel Laureate, wrote about fear in society:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
. . .
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.