Some years ago I read a story about a hill overlooking Belfast. The IRA had stopped the violence. As part of a project, the warring communities were taken up the hill and introduced. Their perspective was changed on the town, and their perceptions of each other. The hill was formerly used for army surveillance. You can imagine what happened. Talk of families, children, school, work, tentative mention of loss. Spoken far above the town and the problems within it.

The warring today is horrendous. It’s not full war but asymmetric war deriving from and enacted on our own streets. If not ours then those of Kenya, Egypt, Paris, Copenhagen, Belgium, Tunisia, Marseilles, San Bernardino, Turkey, Burkina Faso. When you enter the mountains so called politics makes no sense. The trappings of religion are redundant. You are stripped back to something which precedes both. The mind settles and the agitations of life recede. You feel calmed, soothed, content, nourished by beauty.

Hill camaraderie is a pleasant experience. You meet a group of strangers at two thousand metres and sit for dinner. It’s the same, to lesser degree, at Chorlton Ees. People nod, say hello, on one occasion greeted me with a Happy Christmas. When people are crowded together, tensions arise. Hell is other people said Sartre. L’enfer, c’est les autres. Outdoor walking releases us from constricted society and reminds us of the facts of nature and, by implication, the wider universe.

 

Blue Top at Chorlton Ees

Saturday January 16, 2016