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Seeing Red

Friday, 5th December 2003
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

vapour trailsWe've just popped up into Horbury and, by chance, we time our trip perfectly to catch the best sunset I've seen for years as we come back down Quarry Hill. It's at the peak of its intensity as we first catch sight of it.

Long thin ribbons of high cloud, which I think are vapour trails, are the first we see of it above the rooftops. They're streaks of coral pink across a part of the sky that's turned to pastel turquoise.

Traffic Lights

sunsetFor once I'm pleased when we join the queue for the lights - again it's the red and amber that stop us in our tracks - at Horbury Bridge. It's a clear evening and Emley Moor television mast, 5 miles away, shows up sharply in front of a swatch of sky which brings the phrase 'molten tomato soup' (whatever that means) to mind. I drink it in. Barbara is driving, you'll be glad to hear, as I absorb the spectacle. Branches of bare trees are silhouetted against the fieriness. The sky to the south, criss-crossed with vapour trails from the north/south and east/west flight-paths resembles luminous tartan.

The colour and excitement will soon be gone leaving, down by the river just beyond the industrial units, the dark cold world of the lonely valley.

The Final Curtain

viaductMuch as I know that it's not going to last much longer I'm astonished that by the time we get to the lights the redness has moved into the far distance and the skies above the grey-brick viaduct have been drained of colour.

It's the same feeling you get when you've been to a concert: for a while you've been transported to that other world where everything is more intense: you always knew the concert was going to end and that, however much you clap and cheer, even an encore or two isn't going to keep that elation going forever. The weightlessness fades away and from feeling as if you're hovering about 6 inches in the air your feet make contact with the earth again as the excitement and colour subside.

We're back here in our everyday world of headlights and street lamps. The fire, the flamingo pinks, the coral reds have drained away, with their striking but subtle messages and meanings going straight to the heart and we're left with the blatant red glare of the filling station logo shouting it's one crass message, aimed straight at your wallet: 'Stop and buy!' next page

Richard Bell

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