A few days away in a place I once so loved and need to start loving again. I'm a fickle old sod and with me absence makes the heart, or at least my memory, less fond.
When we first came here twenty years ago it was such a magical place. So different from home, so green and full of the unexpected - lizards clinging to walls, tucked away standing stones, those funny little shops that sell those funny little things, pubs that sold beer at a reasonable price and didn’t have plastic New England cladding on their walls to hide the rough and honest stone.
Back then I could frequently bump into Welsh Elvis in the High Street, but I haven’t seen him for years. The ancient little man in the mini-van, kept together with baling twine, who drove the roads at a maximum twenty miles an hour and smiled and waved at everyone he passed has long gone. Tin roofs on tin buildings are hard to find these days. Beach huts in Abersoch sell for £120,000 (yes, just last month) for a few planks of painted wood sitting on the sand and just where is the nephew of Clough Williams-Ellis who sold me logs, has he gone the same way as his missing fingers?
Ah, the heady days of my middle years when I could walk miles on the beach, climb hills without a puff being lost, and still had a little wonder left within my not so sullied soul. My old neighbours are gone. I was probably the last person to speak to Will (goodnight Will), I was certainly the first person to know that he was definitely dead when I checked his pulse the following morning as he lay cold in his bed.
All things must pass they say. As one door closes another opens, or as those annoying snake-lipped management types always proclaim with a lizard smile, ‘Embrace change and be open to it. Your job is to make yourself redundant’.
I feel more redundant each day, so I’ve done a good job boss – not that you ever were you know.
Back here I still remember the strange lights in the skies dancing on the clouds on a hot summer’s evening, the thrum and spark of the stone in the field beneath my hand on midsummer’s midnight, the hare that ran down the lane and leaped the garden wall, a drift of sheep drowning me in our front garden when I left the gate open, my first nuthatch one Christmas Day, mushrooms and blackberry jam, sunset on sunset on sunset. I remember. It may seem like a fuddled dream, but I remember.
I have reached a place in my life where I have too many choices and the hesitation of age that makes me reluctant to make them. The strange man I once nodded to on New Year’s Eve who carried a lamb in his arms like Jesus and became my friend is ill. Geronwy, such a good friend to us all. The weeds grow between my flags, the gravel path is half hidden by wanton daisies and my fence is gone, blown away by the spring gales and leaving my little hideaway open to full inspection.
So, here I am; the prodigal son returned. Not that I’m particularly prodigal (whatever that is) or anyone’s son these days since my fall from a shitty grace.
It’s time for some decisions.