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Open Features: Twilight Time

In this brilliant article Jean Cowgill chooses a time of day as a focus point from which to consider harsh realities in bleak times.

Twilight time is a period between day and night, light and dark, certainty and confusion.

In the halcyon days of near full employment, and little car ownership, workers marched to and fro at twilight time; streamed from bus stops in deltaic patterns. Mornings drew them ant like to their place of work. Evenings saw dispersal to hearth and home.

Iíve been out of work for nigh on fifteen year. Mostly I donít really notice what time of day it is except for the Jeremy Kyle show. Now heís really good he is. Dawn/dusk is all the same to me. Sometimes Iím only going to bed when the kids are getting up. Well, there are some great programmes on in the middle of the night Ė know what I mean? Itís a topsy-turvey world right enough.

These times morning twilight usually goes unnoticed. Hasty breakfast, traffic jams and obsession with work-a-day problems ensure a non-observance of our surroundings. Occasionally we are jolted from this artificiality by an awareness of a blood red sun driving night into oblivion. Or a skein of geese awaken us to a collective memory of water-men plying their trade on fen or lake.

I donít know about skeins of flipping geese; sounds daft to me. Nan used to have skeins of wool when she knitted. She made me hold them for her. Last month I had a bit of luck. Tony, I were at school with him, put me onto a good thing. I went with him and some mates up beyond Skipton. I thought lorry was going to break down it were a right rust-bucket. It didnít help when we had to turn the lights off. Almost dark it was. Any road we were successful. Up on Gargrave Moor we loaded up some cattle. I got a right bruising on my thigh from one of them beggars. Tony creased himself laughing. We took them to a slaughterhouse in Bradford and no questions asked; made a bob or two.

Before the days of computers and television children found twilight the liberating moment between school and bedtime. When dusk fell they became Olympians; running, chasing, tagging with superhuman ability. Robin Hood, Jesse James and Rob Roy McGregor lived on in the back streets; until the curfew. At this time they were summoned, not by bells, but by loud bellows from their matriarchs.

Matriarchs! Thought they were elephants. I know what you mean though. Our Tracey is never home. Although I donít think she exactly plays at Robin Hood in the park. Kevin never goes out. Heís welded to his computer (managed to get it with the cattle money Ė Iíve never seen Kev so happy). Itís hard work without June. Last year she had a win on the lotto and beggared off.

In the twilight world natureís shift patterns change. Diurnal give way to nocturnal. The urban fox examines garden rubbish. A nearby barn owl turns her head and provides a monochromatic study.

Twilight - I always think of shady men in cemeteries. Iím off out to fetch our Tracey home.


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