Monday, July 09, 2007

The Slow Trail.

Samuel has been following his Sherlock Holmes manual again, or maybe Harriet The Spy’s. Unsure of where the once-magicians of Crosspool were going, he waited at the end of their road and watched them turn right, and drive until they disappeared. The next day he stood at the next possible turning after they’d gone out of sight and stood waiting there. He did this all week until he’d followed them to where they go everyday. There were occasional slip ups, when they must have gone to the shops first, because he was left waiting for two hours and they didn’t show. But eventually, in his faithful disguise as a bloke walking his dog, he followed them all the way to where they park up outside the café and the paddling pools along Rivelin valley.

They put on waterproofs and walking boots and set off along the river. Samuel was able to follow them easily now, but within a few minutes they were wading across the water to the far bank. The path runs on the other side too, so they could just walk round. I suppose they must like doing things the hard way: if they just turned the other way out of their house they could cut their journey down by three quarters. Instead of climbing the bank, they started probing the soil with metal rods. Samuel kept on walking wand doubled back. I know the place he means well, I used to walk there all the time. Apparently they’re going back every day, moving along the river at a rate of a few metres a day. They don’t act like they found anything.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Unhappy Campers.

I once heard someone phone into the radio, during a debate on climate change, to say “Global warming, we could do with it. I’d loveto have a Mediterranean climate. We could do with a bit of global warming.” That man was an idiot. We’ve had a week of summer weather this year, and that was back in the spring. Everyone predicted back then that this would be the hottest summer on record, and it may yet be, but so far it’s been the wettest. For some reason I thought July would be a turning point, but it’s still rubbish. And I know this is pensioner-talk to be moaning about the weather, but really, this is enough: trapped indoors for hour after hour, with only so many rooms I can go in; there’s only so much consolation on an mp3.

I’m not the worst effected though. Fuzz and Pele returned from Glastonbury last week with suspected trenchfoot (four of them). Last year we’d all made the plan to go together, but Topper and Cobb have money issues – job and no respectively – and I have no desire to sit in a field surrounded by hippies who want to convince me of the power of ley lines. I watched it on TV. Much to my surprise, our Arctic Monkeys whacked it out, without the need for costumes or fireworks. The bands that did that just made themselves look smaller. Norman sat with me, as he does. He liked Shirley Bassey, and wasn’t sure about the African bands. Looking at the sea of dirty faces, he pronounced “camping’s for fools”.

And so it is – more so for the couple that got trampled to death by cows while they slept in their tent. That happened not far from us, just into the peaks. The farmer's trying not to get sued. Then there was the couple who got trapped potholing after all the rain. And ramblers generally. I might be bored, but I’d rather be indoors than outdoorsy.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

What Samuel Had To Say.

“These aren’t really for me.” Samuel said. He was holding his mobile in a pinch like it was a manky apple. “It’s better that I come and tell you personally.”

I said: “But you don’t have anything to tell me. They’ve come back from wherever, covered in mud. They could’ve been to B&Q’s car park.”
“But they’re coming and going in shifts now.” He’d already told me this once. It didn’t warrant a call round, but that’s the only time he gets a cup of tea made for him, and I suspect he’s angling for more. He claims the phone makes no sense to him, as if texting is some linguistic sudoku. I asked him if that was why he hadn’t called for the last three months.

“I followed Enright, the copy of the real Enright, to the Casino, as you thought. The state I was in , they wouldn’t let me through the door. Besides, he’d gone in there to be visible, and on camera. I waited outside. After half an hour, he must have had a call from the real Enright, and took a taxi to the house in Fulwood. This time I stayed close and hid behind the neighbour’s fence when the Enright copy was stopped at the door. They didn’t wait long, just packed everything of value and then left. I followed again, onto the M1 and then south. I needed petrol before they did, so I lost them.
“I slept at the services for that night, and in the morning I realised I ought not to come back here. It was because of me that Enright met you, found out where you live, and broke into the study. I came here to help, but I’ve endangered you.”

“He might’ve found me anyway.”
“Your father’s name was known to Enright, of course, and most of his circle, but not this location. Nor did they know he had a son, and I doubt any knew the extent of his collection. I think many were surprised he’d lived so long. Like finding out that Dickens is still writing novels.”
“But Challoner knew about my father.”
“Men like Challoner made their living by such information – collecting mentions of names and places to build them into an understanding wider than the actual magicians could bother to grasp. He could assume your father existed, because his name would recur in the rumours of others.”
“He spoke to him. And everyone I met at Enright’s seemed to know my father.”
“By the time you met them I’m sure they did. I’m sorry that I allowed you to be so indiscreet. If it’s any consolation, Enright appears to be disgraced, and his companions that night shouldn’t cause you any trouble. I tracked them down. It was your silence they wanted, and now they just want to distance themselves from the whole affair– the study to them was just a dead library.”

“Always the study.” I said. Samuel cares about it more than anything, and yet he hesitates to go in there. It’s like it’s sacred to him.
“It’s the study that puts you in danger. Speaking of which, that door will need to be stronger.” He looked out across the hallway at Norman’s shoddy refit.

“And is that why you went to Ireland and France? Tracking those others down?”
“Enright is defanged, but he was working with Alex Reeves. I needed to know whether or not he’d noticed you, or was he blinded by Enright’s scam. So I spoke to an associate of mine, and a former ally. They both hear far more interesting news than I do. Through them I found Reeves’ deputy in France, and in his office I found the letter from Crosspool. So I came back. You know this whole business of finding people or catching up with them was a lot easier when there were oracles to consult and spells that could be cast.”

“And if they move away, the candlelighters, you’ll move away too?”
“I’ll go where I’m needed”
“Like in the war?”
“Which war?”
“In Brittany. You left your friend alone, so you could go off and fight the demons you let escape.”
“You mean de Sande? He wasn’t helpless, and nor was he my friend. You’ve been talking to Norman, who really ought to work on his own stories before retelling mine.”
“You left him behind.” I said again.
“De Sande couldn’t help me, I had a duty to act. In case Norman didn’t make it clear, there was a horde of demons, set running wild over Northern France.”
“Because you released them!”
“I! The magicians released them. Trying to become power brokers when the whole world was in turmoil.”
“That’s not how it sounded to me.”
“I don’t imagine it did, second hand.”
“The way Norman tells it you’re Indiana Jones, so don’t blame him. You killed a man and then you ran away.” I didn’t mean to say that, when I started out. I’d presumed that Samuel had killed before that night, but maybe he hadn’t, from the look he gave me. I tried to get back to what I’d intended. “So is that what you do? When it goes wrong, you put duty before your friends.”
“He wasn’t a friend.”
“And what about us?”
“Me, Norman, Angela.”
“You shouldn’t imagine that we mean anything to each other.”