The fourth Regular Marvel is called The Light Ships: Church, art and community in the Lincolnshire Fens. It will be published on 8 November 2014 by Transported, at an event in Whaplode Church. In the custom of Regular Marvels, here are the books opening words:
Two thirds of every eyeful sky
If you know the Lincolnshire Fenlands only from the windows of a car or a bus, you may not think very much of them. The landscape is neither dramatic nor picturesque: no mountains, lakes or pretty villages to catch the eye. On each side of the straight road stretch equally straight lines of cabbages, beet and potatoes, interrupted only by glasshouses, bungalows and truck stops hedged with flags. This is working land, in working gear. It is very productive though: much of what we eat grows in these fields, in rich earth won from water. Workers bend over crops in the morning mist, picking, weighing and packing. A steady convoy of trailers rumbles out from farm, store and factory so that our supermarket shelves are never bare. Its waterways are also straight and functional. Their names—Forty Foot Drain, New River—don’t stop for poetry as they hurry rainwater out to sea. Above them, pylons stalk into the distance like tent pegs for the sky. Turbines lazily harvest the wind. And higher still, jet contrails draw the straightest lines of all across this land of levels and right angles.
If you know the Lincolnshire Fenlands only from a distance, you may not think much of them at all. But if you stop, if you turn off the trunk routes that connect Newark with Kings Lynn or Peterborough with Skegness, you find another Fenland, ancient, self-reliant and rich in unexpected treasure.
The spires are the clue. They pierce the horizon through little stands of trees. Like lighthouses across a still sea, church steeples signal where people live to those who rush by with places to go, people to see. They are still points in a busy world: pointedly pointless. They have stood a very, very long time and they have seen it all.
The book will be available as a free download from this site after 8 November, with details of how to get printed copies. They’ll also be available at three Light Ships events in Whaplode, Wrangle and Gosberton in in November. If you’re in the area, do come along – everyone’s very welcome.