I notice that in my writing I am often very specific about places. The train stops at Craven Arms; he navigates from Glasgow Central to Glasgow Queen Street station; his office is on Bedford Square; he lives in St John’s Wood and drives down past Point Lobos on the Pacific Coast Highway. Places are important to me.
In fact, I have often wondered whether places have souls. This year, the beloved Sheila and I travelled to Great Malvern to climb the Malvern Hills (from the Welsh Moelfryn – bald hill – I’m interested in words too, but you knew that.)
Then we went through Gloucestershire (see I’m at it again) Worcestershire, with a brief dip into Herefordshire before hitting Somerset and Glastonbury. As part of the trip we went to Stonehenge and Avebury before coming back through the Cotswolds on a sad and rainy Brexit day in Stow on the Wold then up to Cumbria and across into Scotland for a weekend in Kirkcubright. Some of these places breathe when we’re not looking. I’m sure of it.
In a previous career, not wholly unrelated to my writing, I was a tour leader for ghost tours. And from the age of a kid right up to dotage, I’ve stood by lakes and watched the snow come in, or on mountains feeling the wind, or in the middle of a marsh calf deep in peat, or by the sea when the waves are breaking from Ireland (or even in Ireland watching the phosphorescence off the coast of Connemara). But the feeling I get in these places, where does it arise?
Is it from the places themselves – so Glastonbury, or Tara or Whitby (or Jerusalem when woken by the call to prayer) – is it in the places – the dragon energy – that we feel. Does this cause the shiver in the haunted house, or do we take the haunting there ourselves? My rational brain tells me the haunting is all our own, but my heart tells me the world breathes. I’m heart over head every time. Except when I’m not. What about you?