The Lyme Maze Game

Daedalus escapes the maze


Universal Workshop



In this direction the triangular "square" narrows into a short canyon of a street (called Victoria Place).

At left is the concave arcade of a building called the Old Bell House, with four small shops—barber, Café Déjeuner, Kay's Underwear, and one that (like too many other unfortunate premises in Axminster) is empty. In front of the barber's shop stands a quirky signboard on which he writes quotations with yellow chalk—

democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance (mencken)
i was educated during my holidays from eton (sitwell)
it is morally wrong to allow a sucker to keep his money (fields)
pto [i.e., check the other side of the board for more]

—and passers-by pause in their stride to read the day's serving of amusing cynicism. In front of the café you can sit at a table to take breakfast and gaze in both directions along the street at what seem to be two centres for Axminster: to the right the colourful opening around the market, to the left a swirl of streets around the George Hotel, and then a road going up an incline out of the town.

I have a sensation (in trying to describe it I may not make much sense) about certain curves, whether in a street like this or in a forest-bordered road along which I am riding. It seems that, looking into the middle of the curve—in this case, the bank of buildings opposite—I can simultaneously see into two worlds (a past and a future), which cannot see one another; and though they are in almost opposite directions, they pull toward parallel, because I can see them at once (and, no doubt, because the attempt to draw or to photograph them forces them to lie side by side on a flat surface).

Well, enough of that. But there's more I feel like saying about this bit of Axminster, which was the first bit I saw. (The builder had brought us over in his car to look for some material in one of the shops.) After the short rightward curve of the street, it takes a leftward curve around the corner into another street, and then immediately another street curves off—and this street goes around behind the George Hotel in a one-way system. It's a knot of curvy little streets, and for the first several visits you lose orientation in it. Axminster is a tight, nestling sort of town; it is screwed down into its place in the land, in a manner somehow suggested by the words town and Axminster (and asty, the ancient Greek word for town).

The island occupied by the George Hotel and its yard does serve as a kind of second centre, throwing off streets in at least five directions, like a Catherine wheel. You won't want to turn left into Castle Hill, nor left-and-then-right-and-then-left along the road for Chard in Somerset, because the road ahead is the Lyme Road—though you could also get to it by going clockwise (the way the traffic has to go) around the circle, left-and-then-right-and-then-right-again. The last part of this, at the back of the hotel, is called Pig Street, and off it there's yet another street, or rather alley, with a name, Pig Lane. At any rate, when you get to the farther corner of the island, about opposite to where Pig Street comes out, you will see a corner with the windows of a Chinese restaurant bulging like something in a fairy-tale picture book, and you have a choice of going either side of it: straight on up the hill. Or (another way to Lyme, we promise you) right.

PICTURE: ChineseRestaur]