Sunday, 15 May 2011
Other People's Stories
When you have a lasting friendship with someone, you cannot help but be drawn into their lives. Their history becomes your history, in part. Just as your history sometimes becomes drawn into other people's lives. When I volunteer at the "Big House" I find myself being drawn into its history, as inexorably as ice cream melts in the sun. Without history, the house is just a shell. I try to make it come alive for the people who visit it and know nothing of its past.
Just so are we drawn into the lives of people we read about - probably why there is such a celebrity cult these days - not that that interests me one jot, as I am forever drawn backwards into the past. Read enough about someone's life, and you begin to identify with them, feel that you know them, experience what they did, through their writing, their letters, their emotions.
I am currently a besotted fly on the wall in Edward Thomas's life, reading as much about him, by him, as I can, to try and understand him, for he was a very complex character. The more I read, the closer I feel to his time and place, though not necessarily to his enigmatic character, which was ever clouded by the darkness of his depression.
Thomas Hardy fascinates me, but in a totally different way. I feel distanced from him, as a person, but connected to him through place - areas of Dorset which are very familiar to me. Folk history too, which is drawn through the fabric of his writing like fine lace through a wedding ring.
So it mattered to me to visit Thomas Hardy's childhood home recently (and Stinsford, where his heart, and his family are buried and which will be tomorrow's post), and I am currently on a sort of pilgrimage of places near to me in Wales which Edward Thomas knew and loved and I will share in due course - though I am beginning to think he needs a blog to himself!