Photographs courtesy of Richard Talbot
Running in the woods this holiday made me remember walking to school with instalments of “The Last of the Mohicans” flooding my brain in the early 70s. I then thought about Wyken Slough and Manor House Estate in Coventry where I grew up and Canada where I have many relatives whom I have never met and a planned visit for my 60th birthday …there is something to think about here…
Cut to something I tried to write many years ago then used in a lecture for Northampton Uni students a few years back:
I am 13 and in love with Uncas from The Last of the Mohicans. On my journey to school I walk over the bridge, over the brook – I see Uncas and me canoeing down river. We ride horses even though we are not Plains Indians. I come to the flats at Bell Green Shopping Centre: Riley Square is the fort and now I am Cora. I don’t like the crinoline dress and want to wear a squaw’s smock. I am both lady and warrior woman. I hear music in my head to accompany the journey. I arrive at school and have to put it all away until home time. I write a letter to Richard Warwick, the actor who plays Uncas …
“… my imagination was fed by the river Sowe, to me it was the St Lawrence River that I was learning about in history backed up by the BBC TV series The Last of the Mohicans. I could see it happening in the brook, and at Bell Green shopping centre. I remember a strong sense of the wild bits being the sections of grass verges, tree clumps and flowing water on the way – this is where Uncas and me lived. The shopping centre and the houses on the way were inhabited by the French and the English. Though I belonged to the English I believed I should be with Uncas to further the tribe of the Mohicans. I was devastated when Uncas died leaving his dad behind.
Cut to extract from James Fenimore Cooper’s book which I used in a cobbled together school play version of “Hiawatha” with drums pounding in the background like the Couch to 5K soundtrack.
“Manitou! Manitou! Manitou! Thou art great, thou art good, thou art wise: Manitou! Manitou! Thou art just. “In the heavens, in the clouds, oh, I see many spots — many dark, many red: In the heavens, oh, I see many clouds.”
“In the woods, in the air, oh, I hear the whoop, the long yell, and the cry: In the woods, oh, I hear the loud whoop!”
“Manitou! Manitou! Manitou! I am weak — thou art strong; I am slow; Manitou! Manitou! Give me aid.”
Cut to David Brent’s Native American – from his wonderful “Life on the Road” – something I watched last night…some connections here…something going on here.