Alan Alan


It was a walk, like any other, just longer: a hundred days, a thousand miles, three million footfalls; on tarmac, sand, soft river silt, sheep trimmed turf, precipitous cliff edge and unforgiving streets; through the best places and the worst places, the best times and worst times, and the worst places were the best places, and the worst times the best times; past foodbank and roofless barn, boarded pub and abandoned church; meeting, passing, rich bottomless welcome.

The margins are the wild places, where wars are fought and ramparts march, where wind thrown sea dashes stone, where geological time flows in childhood memory.  The margins are the forgotten places: poverty, age and illness gather like torn black baler plastic on rusty barbed wire.  The margins are for the poet, the prophet, the aging eco-warrior still struggling to be heard, media-chewed messages like turbine shredded air.

Tales I would tell of inundation, of jewel arrayed hillsides, magician's den and caravan dwellers, iron-clad men and giddy bullocks.

The storyteller is the threader: places and people like pearls, a Gulliver-pinned threadbare landscape.  The storyteller, like the walker, is the voyeur, passing but never belonging, seeing but not being.

Walking the edge, homecoming, embracing, treading the bounds, encircling, but the edge is not the heart, and to return home one must find the beginning.


In 2013 Alan walked the periphery of Wales, border and coast, part personal journey, part technical exploration, part socio-economic investigation, part articulated poesis.