Getting Lost with Jacky Charles

November 23, 2011 § 2 Comments

One of my many ideas that have come to nothing was to write a novel about a maze. My hero, Jacky Charles, worked as a groundsman for a big estate, a bit like Lower Loxley in The Archers. He had some deep, dark secret and then a woman turned up from his earlier life who knew that deep, dark secret. In the meantime, she had become a born again Christian. She blackmailed Jacky Charles into building a maze in the grounds of the estate, as a kind of homage to the great medieval cathedral labyrinths. It would have ended with Jacky going mad and setting fire to himself in the centre of the maze.

As a result of this nonsense, I have a slight interest in mazes and labyrinths. As you may know, there is a difference. A maze gives you a choice of pathways. Go this way or that. In a labyrinth, on the other hand, there is only one, unambiguous path. The walker follows it to the centre and then out again. There are no decisions to be made.

I was reminded about all this today, walking passed St Martin in the Fields. In the courtyard, people were chalking a labyrinth onto the ground. When it was ready, walkers started following its path, only really, really slowly. It was part of an event called Just this Day, about being silent.

Walking slowly

I’m not particularly in favour of silence. I know many wise voices speak up on behalf of quiet reflection, but stepping out of the usual to celebrate silence and stillness – mmm, I’m not sure. I probably should be doing that more, thinking about life, the future, things in general but I’m not, not really. Partly, it’s because my brain feels like it’s wrapped in clingfilm, but partly it seems like tempting fate to even begin that kind of contemplation. Hence, I find myself watching reruns of Desperate Housewives and embarking on the box set of Murder One instead of thinking how I can carve a better, more worthy life from this experience. To be honest, just being here seems quite ambitious.

So here’s the rather lame, bringing this all together finale.

It’s a bit like I’m in a labyrinth right now – one path, get to the middle, get to the end. There aren’t a lot of choices really. Which is why I’ve always preferred mazes. More human, more like I can make my own mistakes rather than living by some preordained genetic slight of hand.

That didn’t really work, did it? Ah well. Here’s a nice picture of a maze.

My favourite maze, at Chatsworth (and a hello to you Derbyshire/Sheffield folk). It comes with a cup of tea and a nice slice of cake.

§ 2 Responses to Getting Lost with Jacky Charles

  • Lizzie Haigh-Reeve says:

    Hmmm, it may feel like a labyrinth but I think it is a maze. You do have choices and control it’s just that when you are in the middle of the big scary stuff you feel like those things have been taken away. In a while you’ll look back and notice that you did make decisions, you have influenced outcomes and you are still in charge. By the way, Desperate Housewives is a choice and at times a damn good one. It’s a bit like eating Fray Bentos tinned pies, you should be careful about admitting to it in polite company and restrict your guilty pleasure to now and again (an overdose of Desperate Housewives being much less damaging than too many tinned pies) and wallow in the wickedness of it. With love x

  • Suze says:

    Oh man, Frey Bentos tinned (steak & kidney anyone?) pies – I’d kill for one of those…. Anyhow, it made me wonder, how is your mouth and are you getting urges for nursery food? I ask only because my friend Bex, here in Portland, suddenly craved Shepherds Pie and I ended up making her three I think! Have you seen her blog? I found it useful for ‘what’s coming next’ and comparing how I felt. I really hope you’re feeling much better!

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