Over the River Uck

I did thirty minutes kundalini yoga at 7.00a.m. ONG NAMO GURU DEV NAMO -easy for you to say.

Then I climbed into the bath and listened to the news, baby bubbles tickling my submerged body. Given the nature of the news; refugees, sinking dinghies, homeless children, famines and greedy arseholes who’s money is predicated on slavery, I lay in the hot, foamy water wondering when the ruling classes will be overthrown for a more humanitarian elite.

Nobody likes the news anymore. Nobody trusts Politicians. If our Prime Minister was Tom Hanks we might stand a cat in hells chance of survival, but our Prime minister is as trustworthy as our last roofer who took a thousand pounds and still left a gaping hole in the bathroom ceiling. Trust is the basis for all relationships, when trust is gone it’s got to be earned back; our bunch of Tory back slappers are about as trustworthy as a sleuth of second hand car dealers who think nothing of selling you a Union Jack decorated Mini Cuntryman without an engine 145,000 miles on the clock and knackered tappets. Ok, maybe not all of them but the Tories that keep popping up are about as inspiring as a slug caught under the dustbin lid.

This morning the dawter had the car so we waited and watched as the man from the cess pit cleaners pulled his pipes into the garden and emptied the cess pit. Then the oven man called to say he would be fitting a new rubber seal on the bottom oven, and since we were going out on our Thursday jaunt the dawter would oversee his gluing.

I chose to drive. We left at 1.30. The sun was low, so low that when we drove south-south east I had to hold my hand over my eyes. We headed for Hastings but on a whim, we decided to go to Cuckmere Haven instead. The sun cutting through the evergreens, the wind sharp. It was lovely to have real November weather; nipped fingers, icy ears, and a genuinely frozen nose.

We arrived at Seaford Head Nature reserve. Parked up next to elderly dogs with their elderly owners. Gloved up couples and a rare whistling wind that would lead us back to a coffee wagon and an open barn wherein to sit.

We set off towards the sea. A portly man with a BBC announcers voice from the fifties, asked us if we needed help.

‘Keep walking. When you get to the coastguards’ cottages you will see one of the best views ever.’

So we walked. the ground spongey and soft. It was like walking the trail of El Camino de Santiago, walking the footsteps of thousands, if not millions, of pilgrims before us. The Seven Sisters gleamed in the sunshine. We walked down the hill and there were the cottages on the sea’s edge. We walked to the left – a detour reminding us that the cliffs were eroding. We walked past two cottages and downwards to the coast line, the Seven Sisters providing a magnificent backdrop.

After five minutes in the icy blasts we turned round and walked back up-hill past benches placed strategically. The Cuckmere river meanders towards the sea, a handful of hikers had gathered on the beach. The magnificent South Downs cradled the valley. On the way back I stopped off to read some of bench tributes. One plaque read;


The Eades, The Coates, the Smiths, all left little brass legacies. All of them having walked the Downs for nigh on 50 years. All of them happy to be seated looking out to the 7 girls and beyond. One bench had a tribute to Rosie M, a teacher, seamstress and cook.

The air clear, the view unblemished, the sky a cold airforce blue. For just a minute it felt like 1958 when the seasons still told their four monthly tale and children played hopscotch in carless streets. The winding path down to the sea, the big sky the cries of the gulls – who would have thought that round the bend in Deal and Dover, families of the self exiled were picking their way through cardboard boxes and unhappiness. The South Downs belong to all of us, the seas and rivers, the trees and robins, belong to all of us but, all of a sudden, we are grasping at our territories, like wrinkled hands clutching at dirty handkerchiefs. We have become territorial terrorists.

The world is changing but The South Downs goes on. There is, the old git tells me, through erosion, another Sister forming, making it eight. And when I die, will there be nine or none?
And when I die will Seven Oaks be 6 or none?
And when I die will Afghanistan still exist, and will Yemen and the Australian outback, the Californian Hills, or mud pools for Hippos?
When I die will the politicians still be afflicted with glue ear, will they still be deaf to the demands of the planet?
We drove through Tarring Neville, named after an old family who owned the land in 1066.
Isn’t it time to end ownership of fields and lakes, meadows and rivers by individual people who like nothing better than putting up little green signs proclaiming it’s their land and we had better keep our common feet off it?
Isn’t it time we looked to indigenous people who have been screaming for years that we are killing the planet, they should be in governance before it’s too late.

When will the so-called civilised truly understand that we are seriously part of the problem not the solution, and that if we dont pull our fingers out there wont be a problem to solve because we will have crumbled into the sea along with the icebergs.

Grass grows up through Chernobyl’s radio active flagstones. Isn’t it time we realised that we can’t beat nature. However arrogant we are, we cannot stem the wrath of Mother Nature unless we get back to the stillness of places like Cuckmere. The clarity of the air, the purity of the Haven. The reality of the climate’s ticking time bomb, and yet our government argue about whether we’ll have a Christmas rich with shite. Overblown turkeys, sadistic sausages, and unhappy pigs giving us hormone rich ham.

Cuckmere Haven blew the cobwebs away. When we had our hot coffee and rum and raisin cake in the open barn, it was cold, but a robin flew in looking for crumbs. The man in the coffee van was a musician; he now makes his living selling gluten free cakes and hot chocolate. ‘Where have all the artists gone, long time passing, where have all the artists gone, long time ago?’

The wind whistled through our brains and the Seven Sisters sung their chalky song into the sea. Right at the end of the Seven Sisters is Beachy head; people go there to throw themselves onto the rocks.
You’ve got be pretty desperate to jump. I know of two people who leapt to their endings, both unable to live with the fuckups of their lives. Looking over at those chalky cliffs today, with their magisterial beauty and powerful longevity, it struck me how small and insignificant we are. Given that we are here for a split second shouldn’t we make it count?

Norman did his best today getting us to Cuckmere but his best wasn’t good enough. C’mon Norm, pull your socks up. Next week – Hastings?

1 thought on “Over the River Uck”

  1. Great words. Brought back memories of driving through Tarring Neville.
    Problem with the ruling classes is they can’t see the rest of us, never mind acknowledge we have a voice.


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