Wednesday 10th August 2011
A homely homestead
Tom sat up. Even in the dark, his eyes gleamed with intense passion.
“That was so cool! You doing that thing… like… turning yourself into a tree. Yay! Sorry I got the giggles. What did you say your name was?”
Thus, in that insignificant grotto in an unkempt corner of an unlikely graveyard on a dark, meandering night, an unexpected friendship between two uncertain wayfarers was tacked together and poked into place among the pine needles and broken stones of the dead and decaying.
With offers of more chocolate (hot), a bed (settee) for the night, and a chance to meet Our Mam (who was in need of ‘some mut to make her laugh’), Tom led me out of the hollow, away from the hallowed ground, across a narrow road, through an old wooden gate and down a muddy path to the house where he, his mother and sister had made small comforts from scant resources… and what sense they could of a troubled, angry and fearful world.
Here it was that I found a reassuring tranquillity – as well as laughter, disagreement, chaos and courage. In this place of safety and solitude, I was able to heal my wounds and deepen my understanding of this world. With Tom’s assistance, I took exercise, read the daily newspaper and grasped the basic principles of sending a txt msg. And, in this skimble-skamble homestead, I was offered, instinctively and unconditionally, benevolence, affection, trust. And bowl after bowl of Weetabix.
We entered through an unlocked door…
(“Nothing worth nicking,” Tom later explained.)
…into a small kitchen, where he was preparing a drink of heated milk and powdered chocolate, when sounds from beyond an inner door caused him to hurry from the room, speaking too quickly for me to understand.
Moments later his mother was standing in the doorway.
I rose to greet a slender, fair-haired woman, whose puffed eyes suggested recent tears – though not, I surmised, as a result of inserting the metal pin in the side of her nose.
“Oh… um… hello. I’m Jenny.”