Wednesday, February 11, 2015


From the estate, if you rode your bicycle down the row of copses to the ha-ha which divided Wellesley's (pronounced Wall-ee) land from the sheiks you could in theory climb down into the ditch on a series of steps laid out for that very purpose and cross over to the over side where there was a helipad. The helicopter would arrive at 9am Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and bring you to Tresco on the Scilly Archipelago. Once belonging to a confederation of hermits, it was now a rather desolate, windswept place though not without an air of charming parochialism. There was something about the way life was lived on these islands, a way in which daily stories were told which threw into relief the artifice of our more pedestrian narratives.

It was not a matter of content, indeed the dramas of family and claustrophobia, arguments heard from behind closed doors in darkened rooms are somewhat universal. It was more a fact that the architecture of the houses and the landscape, being so dimly lit and crushingly bright with skies so inescapably grey, did not allow for the melodramas of tears rolling down cheeks filmed in closeup.

Instead, crises and daily occurrences were viewed from a fixed vantage point, from a slight distance as figures moved in and out of ones frame of view so that, to a certain extent, the drama of the moment was neither directed or obscene, yet its weight felt all the more keenly as a result.

The characters are not the most important element of the drama, as they were constantly being framed within an unforgiving landscape which belittled them and inserted their foibles into a continuum of hierarchies between nature, culture and man.

There was a remarkable pathos and beauty in observing the everyday, whether the careful preparation of food, running up a hill with your sister, windswept picnics, afternoon drinks, kitchen conversations or riding a bike in the wind.

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