(Why the ‘Dartmoor Voice’ story was written.)
I was alone and walking on Dartmoor. It was a fairly bleak day and I hadn’t seen anyone for quite a while. I stumbled while up on top of a tor and that’s what led me to think about dying up there.
That sounds terribly serious but it was nothing morbid or depressed or anything else negative. It was just a reaction to how I found myself. I was alone; if I’d fallen and serious hurt myself it would not have been good.
I carried on happily walking for the rest of that day, but the stumble led me to think of the story that became Dartmoor Voice*. (And to pick a suitable photo from the several I’d taken while I’d been out.)
That’s the primary cause of the story, but that’s not what it’s about. It evolved – albeit quite organically – as some deliberately rambling musings on managing death – the death of a concept and the death of an individual. Deaths, and moving on.
I suspect life would be happier if we were more comfortable with death; as it is, we seem to be coming ever-more averse to even mentioning it.
A dim memory of laburnum seeds being found in the pockets of an unidentifiable corpse on Dartmoor fed in to the tale.** The mystery corpse is a half-remembered story that’s probably an urban (?rural) myth anyway, but it seems so attractively English that I had to work it in somehow.
And I wanted to detach myself from the person in the story. Hence the relatively clumsy device of having the story being cast as me recounting it as if I’d found a recording of someone else’s thoughts on it all.
** There’s the influence of geography too. I sometimes think the influence of place on all our lives is under-estimated, but it permeates everything about us. Sometimes, most of the time, it’s subtle and surely unquantifiable. Sometimes it’s obvious: I wouldn’t have been prompted to write ‘Dartmoor Voice’ if I hadn’t been walking on Dartmoor – it’s that simple. We might understand our lives better if we were more alive to the more subtle influences of place – the built environment in the broadest sense or the rooms we live in; the natural world we might see every day or where our country is on the globe.