Looking for Ted Hughes

2013-07-09 14.01.48

‘I’ve been out,’ says the book.

‘So I see,’ I say.

The book is dressed in a pith helmet and what look like a very old pair of waders. ‘Catch anything?’ I say.

‘Very funny,’ the book says. ‘Actually I’ve been out on Dartmoor. Went looking for Ted Hughes.’

‘I hate to break it to you,’ I say, ‘but Ted Hughes died eighteen years ago.’

‘Doesn’t mean you can’t find him. You can still see him on quiet nights, if you look hard enough and know where to look.’

‘What’s he look like?’

‘Like Ted Hughes.’

‘The early black and white Ted Hughes or the grizzly late period Ted Hughes?’

‘Just Ted Hughes. He had a fox on a leash in one hand and a black lab in the other. When I saw them they were in the middle of a chat about Velasquez. In Spanish.’

‘Sounds like corking fun,’ I say. ‘Did you join in?’

‘I left them to it, actually. My Velasquez is a bit rusty. Not to mention my Spanish. Brilliant thing was, as I came down the hill, I bumped into Tomas Tranströmer. He was reading aloud in Latin and making notes in Swedish. Just then his mobile went and it was Seamus Heaney!’

‘All this on Dartmoor?’ I say.

‘By the time I got back to the car it wasn’t Dartmoor, but a car park in Shepton Mallet. Bloke came by asking directions for Glastonbury.’

‘Have you been eating enough?’ I say.

‘I might have had an extra coffee or three,’ the book says, looking at its feet.

‘I think you need to rest,’ I say. ”Heal into time and other people.”

‘But there’s work to be done!’

‘Not if you don’t rest,’ I say.

‘I need to work!’

‘You need to rest.’

‘Work!’

‘Rest.’

‘WORK.’

‘Rest. The answer’s still rest. You need to rest. You need to rest. Even Ted Hughes rested. Well, not much, but he did manage a little. And Tranströmer, he rested every day. You need to rest,’ I say again to the empty room.

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