That was the west Texas that is..and other tales

Movies, English sunken lanes and an internet warning. Richard Lutz surveys another week


Off to Texas…no, not really.

But this week I inadvertently completed seeing a trio of films about Texas. And not even Texas, but West Texas. They were Hell and High Water (with Jeff Bridges), Nocturnal Animals (with Amy Adams) and American Honey (partly located in Texas with a largely amateur cast).

Two things stood out on top of the three all being superior efforts. One was that none was actually shot in that state, but rather The Great State of Elsewhere.. And the second was that two were directed by Brits and the other director (Tom Ford) lived in London for a long while.

Maybe it took a foreign eye to vividly capture the big skies, the endless emptiness, the quiet remove from the epicentres of the States. I said to my movie-going pal who saw all three with me that I think that’s it for Texan movies and me. I hanker for a good sci-fi film to get me away.

But, in the meantime, what better way to get away than to head for South Warwickshire, a little known (but hardly Texan) rural area known as The Feldon that tucks into the northern edge of the English Cotswolds.

I traipsed west from a quiet village called Lower Brailes through fields still bumpy with medieval furrowing, past 13th century churches and onto a big hill that gives a sixty mile eyeful to Long Mynd, which edges Wales. I think of Rory Stewart, the offbeat MP who walked through Afghanistan while part of the diplomatic corps. He remembers a Nigerian adage that “your feet should be your eyes…”

Slow down and look around. Why is that ditch there? Why is there a sunken road (see above), those intriguing ageless roadways, here and not there? And why is that pile of cut stone in a heap on that hillside overlooking a beautiful quiet valley, as quiet as West Texas?

The Stewart article could not have come at a better time. Except for one other message that landed the other day. It said:

“Warning: Are you receiving unwanted messages about processed pork, gelatine and salt? Watch out. It’s spam.”

I’ll leave you with that.

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