ielfstan's place, Richard Girling, published Longmarsh Press
Posted by elsie katz on Sun, 13 Jul 2014
A place of haunting savagery. The elements bite, sting, punish; the rocky paths cut feet, hard-pressed drovers mortally break their overloaded horses.
In 'Humphy', 'in the thorn hedge, spun like lace between black spiteful bobbins, spider's webs glimmered in the low grey light'. At sea in 'The Prophet', 'the slaps became hammer blows as the wind reared up and the gathering clouds came smoking against them in long black fingers.'
Spite, slaps , blows; these become the currency of human contact. The Gang the adventurous lad shuns daily in 'The Memorial.' The carpenter's terrier shredded by the travelling woodcutters' badger in a wager and the capable, pretty servant manoeuvred into the vicious multiple rape trap in 'The Housemaid and the Dancer.' Mishap, irrespective of effort brings forth mockery. The physically and mentally frail are in Hell. Sometimes there is natural warmth and beauty and human kindness.
Girling's tale cycle is set in Ilsington, on Dartmoor. The first 'Wild Horses' takes place in 15,000 BC. Craving the softness of summer fruit and his woman the hunter has to lead his tribe away from the cave to catch meat, 'but then he opened his fur and looked down at himself and he knew that the woman no longer stirred him.' The final tale shows the Hay Tor quarry reopened in 1919 to cut stone for the War Memorial.
Gripping, written with passion and with well-researched authenticity, ielfstan's Place is a truly memorable epic.