January 24, 2020, by Jem

A Place Worth Knowing

In Lenton, there is a place lit entirely by gas lamps. Go there in the evening and it’s like stepping straight into a Victorian night. The houses are old and huge, and some of the roads are wide enough to host a slalom. There are trees that I’ve no idea the names of, but are big enough to have names like Oak or Elm, and they stand around all dark and moody, as though Sherwood forgot about them when it packed up and left town centuries ago.

This place is called The Park. A road to the castle runs across the width of it, and the air is clear and quiet for each step of the way. You enter The Park from Eastern Lenton by stepping through what is not far off being a gap in a wall. Having entered, stroll forward along the one straight hilly road headed toward Castle Rock. Go up and down the dips and climbs until you reach a small green roundabout. Here, there is a tiny park with a little swinging gate. If you like benches, there is a bench inside of this tiny park, where you can tie up your laces whilst reading a plaque.

Continue over the roundabout on that same hilly road you came by, and begin the climb toward the castle. Upcoming is one of the nicest segments of road in all of the cities of the world/Midlands. It features an ancient curving wall that is made of a stone which I don’t know the name of, but is gold enough to be called sandstone. Walk this golden strip with a pleasant smile, and you are in town. Aside from being the most handsome, it is also the fastest route from Lenton, and can be easily integrated into your walk if you go by foot from campus to town.

Here, take an aerial view of the road:

The road is highlighted, shoddily. It begins at that curious, round, brick, Tesco. That gap in the wall is at the red borderline. I don’t know. Make of this map what you will. But that’s the road there, highlighted. It’s the best road I know of.

At night though, The Park turns strange.

The gaslights give only a dull orange glow to their surroundings; they’re really just candles high up on posts. As a result, there are great splashes of dark beyond their reach, and these black spaces contain the strangest things. For example, I once saw a man emerge from a deep shadow wearing tweed and an eyeglass. He passed by me like a phantom and looked to be as old as the houses.

Faces don’t seem to know how to leave the dark gently here either; they jerk out of it like masks fired from slingshots. I’ve screamed before, at a Deliveroo cyclist who swam out into the gaslight suddenly, with his teal flashing as bright as a fish’s scales. His nose, as well, was swordfish long, and my scream of ‘Night Fish!’ was all the louder because of it.

One night, walking back from town, I saw a mouse that I did not know the name of, but it seemed to me to be indigenous to Australia. It stood on its large hind legs and ran fast with brown fur. At first, I mistook the mouse for an Autumn leaf, hurrying about in the wind. We became shock still when we saw one another. I remember well how we both stood at the brink of the gaslight’s reach, and how our eyes met there on that orange-black border like fired coals crashing together. At once, I felt understood.

I tell you about this place, The Park, because it is peaceful, and scenic, and run through with the very best road to town. But I tell you about it also to remind you that friendships can be made at university outside of campus; for instance, they can be made in the glow of a gaslight, on a gentle Autumnal night, in a place far from home, in the presence of phantoms and houses and benches, in a place cocooned from time’s hard gaze, Hark! It is here I met my Australian friend!

Posted in Jem