Afternoon, and warm. Though with a rising wind. Jim Whalley, red in
the face but as yet far from out of breath, making his way upwards, occasionally
talking to nobody or to somebody.
“Hang on a bit, Wal. Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, we’re none of
us as young as we were and that includes you and me.”
His black boots kicked puffs of dust from the rutted marl of the track that curls
steeply up, between banks and hawthorn bushes and fox-holes, from the alley by the
Post Office to the top of Hale’s Beacon. He waseighty-five. He didn’t know,
at the moment, not really, why he was climbing.