Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Lyme Regis lies at the foot of a steep cliff. The roads to it are narrow. No sooner have they touched the sea than they veer up again.

In the few square yards where these roads meet, there is a small car-park.

The M.O.D. bus almost filled it.

I checked it was there, then retreated round the corner. Under cover of queuing for a slice of Dorset apple cake in a crowded baker's shop, I attached two badges to the lapel of my coat.

They were very simple.

One was red and white.

The other was blue and white.

Both were striped.

* * * * *

When I went back to the bus, it was empty.

The prisoners had gone fossil hunting.

The guards were buying presents for their friends and families.

Only the driver was nearby; sitting on a bench, eating a sandwich.

He didn't seem to recognise me - but he looked at my badges, sighed, shook his head, said 'Women' (in a weary sort of voice) and offered me an Everton mint.

I asked if he is from Liverpool.

I could see he was about to give me a lecture. Then he changed his mind.

"I'm a Geordie," he said.

- Same colours. Black and White.

(One real human identified.)

* * * * *

When it rains on Pluto, water which falls on an established tree is channelled along grooves in its upper branches - so it lands in a wide circle, at a distance from its trunk, and safely away from its roots.

Over the years, deep grooves form in the earth where it beats on the soil - and along their edges grow colonies of yellow, methane tolerant ferns.

They are quite distinct from any we have on earth.

Rubbery in texture, they are a bit like seaweed. And they smell musty (like mushrooms).

Yesterday, in my pocket, was a small flower-press.

I fingered the wing nuts for reassurance while I talked to the driver.

Pressed between layers of blotting paper and corrugated card
- were the leaves of rubbery, musty, yellow-gold ferns from Pluto.

Didcott's release.

* * * * *
Sam (my milkman) takes things literally.

It'll take him weeks to get over the thought of wild Cougars in Dorset.

He says Ron told him to watch out that they didn't try to drink my spare milk while I was away.




Amy said...

We have wild cougars not far at all from where I live. Sometimes dogs go missing in the night, never to be seen again...

VP said...

Tell me Esther - did the bus parking where it did cause the massive landslide near Lyme Regis, or did the occupants of the bus go fossil hunting as a result of the landslide, just like the rest of Dorset appears to be doing according to the Six O'Clock News today?

I have a geological hammer just in case the urge to fossil hunt comes over me, which it does from time to time

Esther Montgomery said...

Amy - That sounds both exciting and alarming!

Does it mean you have to take special precautions with the children?


Esther Montgomery said...

VP - This is amazing - I'll have to be careful what I write about!

I hadn't heard about the landslip until you mentioned it.

(I've been rather busy the last few days and haven't been listening to the news.)

I've just looked it up on the BBC news website - and it happened on Tuesday - the day when the prisoners went fossil hunting!

I'll have to check that they are all ok!


Ron Eklof said...

Oh Esther,
I mentioned about cougars to Sam because when I went to British Columbia there was some recent troubles with marauding cats. Not having traveled to Britain itself I was unsure if there might be a connection.
I must be careful as well to not alarm the citizenry with ill chosen words. My apologies.


Esther Montgomery said...

Ron - It was rather fun, really - when I looked out of the window and saw Sam cowering behind a bush.

Then, when he thought the coast was clear, he tip-toed to the door, put the bottles on the step - then hurried as fast as he could back to his milk cart; glad he hadn't been eaten, I suppose.