‘In The West Country’ by Leslie Norris

In The West Country by Leslie Norris, 1977

The magic trick:

Taking its time setting the setting

N is for Norris.

Our narrator meets a man on a bench in a park. The man says some strange things. Our narrator seems to take the entire interaction as some kind of ominous, if not downright threatening, omen. But he leaves and moves on with his life.

What does it all mean?

I have to be honest, I don’t know.

But I really enjoyed the way the story takes its time in setting the setting. I enjoyed being in the west country for these few pages, even if I didn’t connect to the intended meanings of the experience.

And that’s quite a trick on Norris’s part.

The selection:

Nothing would be moving at Pen Mill station. Only rarely would there be someone at the barrier to examine my ticket. Once inside, I could sometimes see, far away down the platform, a lone porter sitting on a trolley, looking steadfastly into the distance, not even reading. There would never be a train. But eventually one would arrive – a small, meandering train with an air of having strayed in from earlier, more rustic times; and when, at last, it set off again it did nothing to dispel this impression. There probably was a village in Somerset at which it did not stop but I cannot remember one. One we went, our roundabout, leisurely journey interrupted at such concurbations as Marston Magna, Queen Camel, Sparkford, Castle Cary, Bruton, Frome, Westbury.

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