April may be, as the poet said, the cruellest month but February is surely the dreariest. In my childhood it was briefly enlivened by my birthday, which falls upon the seventh, but as I grew older that seemed less and less significant until now I would be pushed to say that it does not increase my dislike of the year’s second month.
Apologies. Perhaps there ought to be governance against writing while harbouring the glums, but I have much on my mind. My son wrote me yesterday. His letters – in his own handwriting – are infrequent as apple harvests. He is short of money, a temporary trouble, he tells me. I sent him £200. It is less than he requested but that is the limit of my parental restraint. His mother will have had much the same letter from him and he trusts, correctly, that she will not communicate with me and I will not communicate with her. Between us, he should survive. If a son’s love must be kept with ready cash, then I will at least be competitive.
I am awaiting communication from the publisher. There is ill news. Part payment for the editing of Acts of the Servant is on its way, so they tell me, but that is not the issue. They are concerned my stance on MacGregor and magick will affect the book’s promotion and therefore its sales. There is money in magick. Hendryk van Zelden’s name was mentioned and I fear… the worst? I don’t know; what might the worst be? They can hardly take the next volume in the series away from me and hand it to him – he has no editorial skills, none whatsoever, unless he wishes to ‘divine’ what MacGregor intended, in which case, heaven help us.
Toward late afternoon the grey weather improved. It is the last day of the month. I went for a walk, passing out of Avebury eastwards, along the Here Path across the chalk downs toward Marlborough, and had not gone far before I spied a pleasant sign of spring: the snowdrops were in flower.
It is hard, even on a day such as the one I have had, not to feel uplifted by this brave, yet delicate flower. I am glad I had my camera with me and that, for once, the batteries were properly charged. There were other signs of life too, but the snowdrops had the stage rather to themselves and were a delight to see.
Passing by Manor Farm a wooden signpost caught my eye. There is something rather majestic about such a signpost, it is as though the name boards were making decrees. Seeing ‘Rockley’ upon it brought to mind the subject of a future article for my Avebury Pages, albeit, Rockley is strictly speaking outside the parish. It is not enough that Avebury is home to what Stukely erroneously called a Druidic Temple, but at Rockley is a quite genuine temple of that most romantic priesthood of brigands, crusaders and assassins, the Knights Templar! Little enough remains of the temple, indeed, the provenance of what remains is disputed, but their existence in Rockley is in the historical record. Rockley, today, is little more than a dry valley high above Marlborough with but a single road and a scatter of houses, but it was once a place of learning and mystery.
But another day for that. I fear, I did not get remotely close to the downs today. There would have been scarce time to ascend and descend before dark and I had no flashlight with me. Also, the wind was from the east and bitterly cold and when my numb fingers could no longer adjust my camera, I turned homeward. Reaching the henge itself, Avebury’s resident jackdaws put up a fine display and I spied a young falcon receiving a thorough mobbing before I turned into the Red Lion for a glass of whisky and a sit by the fire before wandering the last mile to Avebury Trusloe.
Hendryk van Zelden… I think it likely the publisher will ask him to do a foreword, much as Sister Ethelnyd of the Iona seminary is providing for Acts of the Servant. I could tolerate that, I suppose. My mother yesterday remarked on the telephone that I think more of
Hendryk van Zelden than I do of my own son. I hardly think so. Though it is true, had my son half his success I would worry a great deal less of him, and had Van Zelden half my son’s fecklessness, I should worry a good deal less about him!
As it is, I worry about them both.