Rousham

This morning I woke with a black dog heavy on my chest. Leering into my face with a white-flecked, carrion tongue, he stretched, sated and loving, pressed his head against mine, and whispered of sleep and surrender.

So I took him for a walk, to Rousham.

I am blasted, blear-eyed and bright. Drunk on the smell of sweat and lavender, the taste of stolen blackberries. Landscaped by William Kent in 1738, there are walled gardens of cornflowers and brain-nerve frothing fennel; a stinking dovecote and Roushamserpentine rill between dirty mossed ponds; a slant-eyed Lebanon Cedar shading a monument to an otterhound, shite poetry etched in old stone. The private owners declare that 'Rousham is uncommercial and unspoilt with no tea room and no shop. Bring a picnic, wear comfortable shoes and it is yours for the day'. No shit - tourism here is a gang of louche, shirtless gays reading old Penguins on the great green spine of the lawn. Eat coronation chicken and English plums, fuck the shoes and go barefoot, and wear a full skirt on the off chance that, round the curve of the path where the sweet peas bloom, Mellors is wrestling with his aspargus and fancies something to hold onto.

I plunged my face into the obscene, milky depths of a rose heady with lemon. The black dog ran away, after a rabbit.