One valley, two villages. Meon. Like The Great Gatsby, there’s an East and a West. Let’s go waste the most poignant moments of the night and life and capture on celluloid one of the villages in the valley. As Nick Carraway narrates in The Great Gatsby, “Anything can happen now that we’ve slid over this bridge.”
“The Court House led a quiet life down the centuries,” remarks George Bartlett, who lives with his wife Claire in the medieval building plonked in the middle of East Meon. “In the first half of the 20th century the house was restored by the architect Percy Morley Horder who bought the house for himself. He designed many country houses.” George reassures, “He added a very discreet wing to the Court House. It’s wonderfully unassertive. A lovely piece of add on architecture.”
Twilight. The seeping of day into night. Flux made manifest. A liminal state, a period of transformation, optical and psychological. As light fades, our eyes play tricks on us, inventing horizons, altering distances, shrouding landmarks. We become more obscure to ourselves as well. Soon we are diner, dancer, lover. But in this moment, the night is not so much young as hardly begun.
There’s palpable tension in this transition between our day and night selves. In Laughter in the Dark, Vladimir Nabokov’s doomed character Albinus experiences it on a visit to his mistress. “Lights were being put on, and their soft orange glow looked very lovely in the pale dusk. The sky was still quite blue, with a single salmon coloured cloud in the distance, and all this unsteady balance between light and dusk made Albinus feel giddy.”
For lost souls, the magic hour passes unobserved, pre empted by the explicit reds of sunset; or its nuances eclipsed by the acid glow of streetlights. F Scott Fitzgerald beautifully captures the melancholy of fading day in The Great Gatsby when his narrator Nick Carraway observes, “At the enchanted metropolitan twilight I felt a haunting loneliness sometimes, and felt it in others – poor young clerks who loitered in front of windows waiting until it was time for a solitary restaurant dinner – young clerks in the dusk, wasting the most poignant moments of night and life.”
Twilight. The time when the power of reason wanes and fantasy weaves its own tales. Full of frisson, danger, desire. Moral and social strictures loosen as the first stars appear. Under the diffusion of mauve light there is heightened sensitivity to the promise of life; anything is possible in this magic hour. Grasp it, for the intensity is almost tangible; feel it, before going forth into the night, both derivative and original, living in the present yet loving the past.