This morning someone had crept out before me to steal the whole valley in which the office resides. The borders of Witney were, if not clear as a bell, possessed of a spring-like translucency that meant I needed to wear sunglasses to be able to look over my shoulder safely. But as I rounded a corner to descend towards my workplace I could suddenly see no more than a cyclist’s stopping-distance ahead; knowing that others wouldn’t be travelling at cycling speeds, I slowed down. A fortunate move, as it turned out, when I nearly missed the turn-off onto the long, swooping drive.
Closer to the office, I could hear what at first seemed to be a cow-bell. Where had I ended up, I wondered? Had I taken a wrong turn at the pub and headed towards the Alps? From out of the mist loomed a large, black shape, threatening and fat; this eventually coalesced into a van, with two workmen fixing the metal fence that had been crushed by a falling tree. They didn’t look up from their work as my bike—recently serviced—whispered past. Clank-clang, clank-clang went their hammers, now behind me, as I headed into more greyness in the hope that there was an office at the end of it.