We had a real proper fog this morning, so much so that the church on the hill above us wasn’t there! See my featured image – and then see below for what I should have seen. We live by the sea so the fog we have is often a sort of heavy sea mist, but I’m old enough to have experienced town smog/fogs which I always found exciting! When you live an ordinary, everyday life, little things like a change in how the world looks in a spooky, mysterious and creepy way is exciting! I remember fog when I grew up in Cambridge and how it changed the sound of everything, and how disoriented you could become walking along familiar streets or worse still, cycling along familiar roads! I remember what the lights of the cars and buses were like, the fog sucking up the illumination and changing the colour… and it smelled different from anything else. I moved to Manchester and came across big city smogs which you could almost feel they were so dense. Used as I was to Fenland fogs – laced with the smoke from coal fires struggling out of chimney pots laid over the damp river smells, I hadn’t encountered industrial smog with petrol and diesel fumes laid over.
These were all actual experiences of fogs, but I had met real smog often before in books, especially of course, Dickens. I guess the most famous Dickensian passage is from Bleak House, which I must have read when I was a young teenager, because by absolute chance it cropped up in my O-level exam as the passage we had as a comprehension! Because I was also so familiar with rivers and being on and in rivers, it came alive to me in an unforgettable way:
Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats.
Dickens used fog in his novels, and on a very much more modest scale so have I, literally and as a metaphor for the dilemmas the characters find themselves trapped by, and by the mysteries which puzzle them, and I hope intrigue the reader.
My featured image is from our doorstep this morning, the first below is our usual doorstep view, and the second is a lovely sunny view from the main street yesterday.