After twenty months of walking [in Asia] … I landed in London and noticed its glass shop fronts and posters of half-naked women… [T]he concrete ran clean from the roads over the kerbs and up the walls of the houses, so that the whole city seemed rendered as a single room. Middle-aged men in suits stood in the streets at midday looking lost and soft.
I took the sleeper up to Dunblane and walked the last twenty kilometres home. It was dawn and the halogen lamps were still lit along the road. Rabbits stood beneath single trees. The sheep were scattered across a grass plain that could have supported a flock fifty times larger. Under a close, small sky, the river was still and broad and labelled ‘Private, No fishing’. A line of daffodils had been planted along the verge, in front of an avenue of bare beech trees.
Clean metallic signs announced a school and a forty-mile-an-hour speed limit. A cat leaped over a petrol station wall. Ther cars were parked in front of the houses with their noses thrust over the close-mown lawns. There were conservatories, dark green ironware tables behind thigh-high walls and bird tables with hanging seed. I imagined knocking and saying , ‘Where is the headman? I would like to stay.’
(Train Edinburgh-North Berwick, Scotland, spring 2014)