Bland says "Rudwich is a place of littel tiny people" (It's part of Bland's con to use childish pronunciation like "littel" so you think he's a pure spirit and give him your last quid.) What he means is that the broad streets, squares and clearance areas combine with the clear light to surround you with distant groups of people, all seen in minute detail.
Early in the morning the groups aren't even there. Just the light and the space.
When the light is bright the effect is unbearable. Bright sun in Rudwich isn't the kind of stuff to send you whistling down the road. It has the same authoritarian glare as a police interrogation lamp, constant and unrelenting. After the first glad response and the first expansive breaths of well-being, it persists in drumming on your eyes, hammering little drops of cold sweat from your skull, dazzling your brain to the density of cotton wool.
Dull weather, though, is a flat proposition. The city is there as poker-faced data. There is an unearthly serenity in Norfolk at times but there is never any ready manifestation of the grit and textures of existence. it is difficult to care about the US rocket bases strewn around, about the fact that here is one little piece of NATO territory that will be scorched out of existence the minute the shooting starts. One has the feeling that the amethyst light will persist after the strontium has blown away, that what is to be destroyed is probably best destroyed anyway. It is difficult to love or be loved in Rudwich. One is that far above ground and love is finally an earthly feeling.
Rudwich is a place that no-one passes through. The small beat community here may have intended passing on but realise now that this is as far as you go. If you come to Rudwich on the London Road or on the Peterborough Road there is nothing beyond but the dank broads, the empty marshlands and mile upon mile of unearthly coast. So here they stay forced to con one another again and again, milking one another to the bone, no new scene to move on to. They sit in Henneky's in a stupor of methedrine and pot, sharing a bottle of Portuguese Rose, confronting the emptiness of the air, the landscape, one another and themselves. The twittering budgerigar students from the most bourgeois university in England fly merrily around their heads making inconsequential noises.
It was here that the experience of the vast breast, the direct empty face of otherness already described from a horizontal view, is most clearly with me all the time. The raw purple nipple never could appear here. The thunderous highways of energy beyond the veil, beyond the bland breast, are never to be touched. The Menacing Eye, unseen, is sensed through nothing more than a certain anticipatory tingle in the atmosphere. The phantoms of my adolescence writhe some way below my feet.
I was forced to confess, standing in the grey street under the green trees at 6.30 in the morning, under the grey, clear Norfolk sky, with the shop signs 200 yards away easily legible so clear the air, the emptiness presents me with a choice of numbness or agoraphobic panic. The light is conducive towards numbness.
How could I feel here the gritty intensity of the stone, the brick, the concrete? Where, here, could I cling to a crumbling wall and feel the seething itch of existence pass down my nerves to my prick? How could I have revealed to me, as dull weather reveals to me elsewhere, the immense hammer and anvil, the thatness, of ordinary visible things, unless the baldness of appearances in this dispassionate light sharpens by absence one's awareness of the unmanifest tumult? The impartial clarity of Norfolk air is the empty space where the savage lover was expected, the impassive face into which one looked for ecstasy. Standing face to face with emptiness, one has never loved so yearningly, never longed so desperately to have one's love, and therefore one's self, confirmed by the Eye, the tumult, the clamorous violence of Otherness.
The impartial clarity of Norfolk air so powerfully reveals the trivial exteriority of things that one is almost completely deprived of the experience of anything Other. Yet here are no latter day Aristotle's, no confident rationalists, no logicians or marble carvers. Here is only a small handful of old young men and women, all mystics by inclination, all hungry for confirmation of self and Other, all arrived here face to face with a complete clarity of the trivial, waiting for their occasional moments of transport, with nowhere to move on to but the marshes and the colossal vacuum of the Norfolk beaches, no progress possible but flight.
Rudwich is the jumping-off point and nobody has the wing-power. This is no Celtic west where the light of blood and old gold shows the way. This is Saxon east where the light shows nothing with incredible clarity and there is consequently nowhere to go.
Why is it then, that among the besotted little group of balked voyagers, Jack Bland, Sandra, Ted Slot, Maggie swallow, Dilly, Jim Jukes, Adrian, Whizz and Pussy, there is a quicker understanding of metaphysical appetite than amongst a similar group anywhere else? Possibly because elsewhere the issue might be confused by received politics or ambition? Why drift to this dead-end embarkation point if your inclination is towards the chaos? The departure is overdue but no-one ever leaves. Why do they gather here and gnaw at one another with sexless sex, with drugs that somehow here form few reliances, with endless scraping for half-crowns, bottles of cheap wine, little cubes of hash. Conceivably because the vacuum here is a void beyond the chaos, is empty possibility beyond crucial confrontation. The dead-end is truly the embarkation point. The only birth is despair. They are trapped at the brink, at the edge of their perceptions. Who jumps first?