Out walking on the southern fringes of Market Harborough on Wednesday, I was suddenly taken with the desire to dodge behind the hedge that bordered an acre or so of allotments. Contemplating the view I espied these stalks sprouting up out of the snow. And it all came back to me- D.H.Lawrences's short story Daughters of the Vicar. One of the eponymous offspring, Louisa, escapes the stifling atmosphere of the vicarage on a snowy Christmas afternoon to visit her friend Mrs.Durant. "In the valley that was black with trees, the colliery breathed in stertorous pants, sending out high conical columns of steam that remained upright, whiter than the snow on the hills, yet shadowy, in the dead air." Louisa can't raise anyone at the cottage, and peeping in she sees "the scarlet glow of the kitchen, red firelight falling on the brick floor and on the bright chintz cushions". Going out into the cold snowy garden as "On the left, overhead, the little colliery train rumbled by", she finds Mrs.Durant collapsed amongst the cabbages, whimpering with pain. "I've - I've - I was pulling up a brussel-sprout stalk - and - oh-h! - something tore inside me.." The story is one of a dozen in The Prussian Officer, first published in 1914.
I am a designer, writer and photographer who spends all his time looking at England, particularly buildings and the countryside. But I have a leaning towards the slightly odd and neglected, the unsung elements that make England such an interesting place to live in. I am the author and photographer of over 25 books, in particular Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2006), More from Unmitigated England (Adelphi 2007), Cross Country (Wiley 2011), The Cigarette Papers (Frances Lincoln 2012), Preposterous Erections (Frances Lincoln 2012) and English Allsorts (Adelphi 2015)