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Penda's Fen

I saw this TV play when I was 12, and didn't understand it, though it haunted me for many years. I had even forgotten its name, all I recalled was an angel by the river and a place called Pinvin and/or Pinfin.

Found it yesterday on Youtube, sound was rubbish, camerawork shaky and the end looks like someone was recording it off a TV in the back of a moving lorry. It's vaguely preposterous and self conscious, but it's still got a magnificence to it; the Matter of Britain beyond Arthur, Occult Albion, Elgar on the Malverns and the Dream of Gerontius... laboured but interesting. The play is about so many things; the bastion of England's virtues, Christianity, family, militarism, conformity, and the great 'monolith of the city ' waiting. Best of all, it encapsulates moments of English Eerie and the movement of the genius loci.

Once we stared at the land and we saw or imagined the ghosts beneath. The imaginings stayed long after we grew out of them, ghosts of a place familiar but increasingly unknown. It is not a play that could be received well now, or even understood - no-one wants to look at the instruments of pure use and profit our landscape is being reduced to, possibly because the same is being done to us. We are children of the monolith.

'Be secret. Child be strange, dark, true, impure, and dissonant. Cherish our flame.'

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