It is late February, which in my beloved Japanese microseason calendar it’s called “mist starts to linger”. It’s not humid and warm in North Lincolnshire, so a yellerbelly version of that would be “wind and mist make love while drizzle watches”. The gargantuan fields of Lincolnshire are majestic in their brown-grey nothingness. I have always loved the bleakness of this view. When I lived here I had the front bedroom and would look over this same massive field (pre-enclosure it was called South Field) and it felt like never ending greyness and nothingness. No features. No activity. Then one night in summer the field would be full of machinery then nothing for the other 364 days.
South Lane was always the biggest ‘hill’ in a town on the edge of the great flat plain – as kids we’d ride our bikes down here and skid stop before we hit the main road. Market Rasen lived in a world of flatness, where you had a sense that everyone could see what you were doing because there were no hills to hide behind. The only feeling you would get of a deviation from this horizontal norm was in the western edge of the town. Walking along King Street, with its seen-better-days Georgian houses, you could feel a pull on your shins (or your calves – depending on which way you were walking) due to an imperceptible incline. But you had to be on your own, and slightly bored, to notice it.
It was just outside the town boundary, in a 200 yard zone before the start of the next village that we called No Man’s Land. South Lane is the old parish boundary between Market and Middle Rasen. The right angle bend would be following the enclosure of the huge South Field from 1772.
The hill had its own name – Mount Pleasant. To get there you turned off the B631. On the ubiquitous Google Maps its descried as ‘Green Lane’, ie. it’s a byway that’s in the countryside and too small to bother about. Or maybe when Google employees went to the area nobody would tell them what it was called. I hope it was this one. If you keep going along South Lane, after about half a mile it veers at 90 degrees to the west and continues for another half a mile to Mill Lane. (I lived in this neighbourhood for 12 years, but I never knew this until about ten years after I moved away. I think that was because Mount Pleasant somehow seemed so forbidding that we didn’t go too far.)
Strolling in this old rural scene I recall that back in the early 80s my friends and I found a black plastic bag full of old porn mags in the ditch at the bottom of South Lane. We took them back to Stavesy’s house just nearby and flicked through them, “reading the very interesting articles” as I said to my parents the next day after word had got out about our haul.