Over a period of years, Marcia had returned time and time again to the idea of a family group probably living on Bodmin Moor only she had no idea as to the details.
Connected to this group (but how?) was a family heirloom. What it was, where it had come from and where it was now remained a mystery. Whatever the answers to those questions, Marcia felt that it was going to cause trouble.
Then there was the vision of a girl called ‘Tiggy’ driving ‘to the west’ in an old VW camper van – an orange and white camper van. Who was Tiggy? Where was she driving from? Where was she going?
Above all, Marcia was aware that there was going to be a tragedy but with no idea as to what tragedy or who would be concerned.
We lived with the above for at least three years (it may have been even longer, neither of us can really remember) and these scenarios cropped up in conversation at various times. As time went on, other characters began to appear and Marcia was aware of odd scraps of conversation until the day came when she decided we should go and find where this lot lived.
If you have followed our adventures this far, I am sure it will come as no surprise to learn that there were a number of false starts. We looked at Minions in the south east part of the moor and worked clock wise from there. Eventually we found ourselves near St Breward in the north west. As always, when Marcia is searching for her characters, I try to stop in places where we are alone as the imaginary world quickly disappears when it is conflict with the real one. It doesn’t matter if we are just checking facts as that is a pretty mechanical job. Anyway, on that day I saw a tiny lane going off to the right over the open moor with a ‘No Through Road’ notice. Perfect. We found a place where I could pull the camper van off the lane (care has to be taken, there are quite a few boggy bits on all three moors and the van is then hopeless). I switched off the engine and we listened. Nothing. Not a sound although the peace was broken shortly afterwards by a skylark but that was pretty acceptable.
After some refreshment, we walked out – with Max – over the moor to Alex Tor. On the way back we came across an old hut circle. By old, I mean about 6,000 years old. As we wandered back, Marcia announced that the house in which this family – or at least a part of it – was where we had found the hut circle.
Gradually the rest of the locations became clear: the holiday complex and cafe at Port Isaac and the cottage near the church in Blisland but there was one more vital link in the chain.
What was this family heirloom and why was it important. There are one or two items in our family which have been passed down and hold huge sentimental value even if they would fetch very little in the open market. Marcia felt that this heirloom was very different and was itself intrinsically valuable as well as having some other meaning. One of our friends is an expert on bronzes. Was that where the idea of a small bronze statue of the boy Merlin bravely facing the world came from? The answer to that question will never be known but at least Marcia was able to learn something about the artists who made the great bronzes – and the forgers who copied them.
So it was that Tiggy was carrying with her the little Merlin, given to her by her grandmother (who surely knew they would never see each other again) as a symbol of hope and courage. Poor Tiggy would never know that she held the original and that the one lodged in a museum many miles away was a forgery, a copy, made by her father.
Marcia knew that this bronze was going to pose a threat to the family that lived up on Treswallock Downs – a house which now had the name of Trescairn – and that Julia was going to have to dispose of it.
One day we decided to visit the church at Tintagel although what prompted that idea I really do not know. We took Max for a walk along the cliffs and, as we returned towards our van, Marcia suddenly realised that Julia would throw the bronze into the sea from the top of those very cliffs. It was one day that I really would rather not remember. Marcia insisted on going to the very edge of the cliff onto a little rock platform the path to which was of slippery grass at quite an angle – all of a couple of hundred feet above the sea. I insisted she held one end of a dog lead (well, a bit of rope we used as a dog lead) while I hung on to the other.
Julia was made of sterner stuff – she did it in the middle of a rain storm!
At last Marcia was able to say, ‘I know the first line and the last line: now I can start writing.’
The strange fact is that she always (well, nearly always) knows the first and the last line even though there are ninety odd thousand words in between which remain a mystery at that time. We often talk about how this can be and the only conclusion we have come to is that deep in her subconscious lies the finished book just waiting to be revealed.
For some notes and photographs describing The Way We Were country the link is TWWW Country.