Year 12 | 28 January 2020 | TO ENTER | TO REGISTER

Happiness? We have to grab the fly

An evocative excerpt by James Lloyd Carr, the famous author of A month in the country. We can continue to insist, but we will have never what seemed ours to always

James Lloyd Carr, 1912-1994

Ah those days...for many years afterwards their happiness haunted me. Sometimes, listening to music, I drift back and nothing has changed. The long end of summer. Day after day of warm weather, voices calling as night came on and lighted windows pricked the darkness and, at day-break, the murmur of corn and the warm smell of fields ripe for harvest. And being young.
If I'd stayed there, would I always have been happy? No, I suppose not. People move away, grow older, die, and the bright belief that there will be another marvellous thing around each corner fades. It is now or never; we must snatch at happiness as it flies.


We can ask and ask but we can’t have again what once seemed ours forever – the way things looked, that church alone in the fields, a bed on a belfry floor, a remembered voice, a loved face.
They’ve gone and you can only wait for the pain to pass.
All this happened so long ago. And I never returned, never wrote, never met anyone who might have given me news of Oxgodby. So, in memory, it stays as I left it, a sealed room furnished by the past, airless, still, ink long dry on a put-down pen. But this was something I knew nothing of as I lifted the loop and set off across the meadow.

James Lloyd Carr

James Lloyd Carr, A Month in the Country, NYRB Classics, 2000:

The story was made into a 1987 film, directed by Pat O'Connor and starring Colin Firth, Kenneth Branagh, Natasha Richardson and Patrick Malahide. The adaptation from the novel was by Simon Gray:

by T N
02 february 2009, Food Notes > Food Tourism