I have been spending an awful lot of time in front of this screen. It’s become a go-to action for when I wake up. It gives me a reason and an excuse. It’s part of my recovery. It could also be part of my self-deception.
Of all the things to say to yourself when you wake up on Monday morning (things like, “Oh,no” or “Shit” or “Why do I continue to do this nonsense?”), the words, “I think I will go to Wales,” do not normally spring into the mind of a reasonable person who is in possession of a small fortune of shiny, multi-coloured marbles. On Monday of this week, those very words leapt from my mouth like insanely caught sprats onto the deck of a boat bound for market.
My wife looked at me through the steam rising from our mugs of morning tea and replied,
“That seems like a good idea.”
There will be those amongst you (don’t you just love my belief that there is somebody out there reading this?) who are now thinking that she was trying to get rid of me for a week or so. That the marriage wouldn’t last long. Good for her. And, what’s in Wales?
The answer to that last question is that my old mate of the fish casserole resides (much too strong a term) in Wales. His Herculean task of rebuilding a centuries-old cottage in the proverbial wilderness is still continuing. At the moments, his task has been increased one-hundred-fold due to his vehicle being off the road for a long period of time. The ancient Greeks would have understood that the gods were merely playing with him, setting him tasks and challenges whilst loading the dice against him. I don’t know what the Greek is for, “just a bit of fun whilst we pass our celestial time” is, but that is about the sum of it.
From my position, in front of the computer screen, I believed his life to be manageable; what doesn’t break you and all that. So, Wales it was.
I hadn’t had much joy on the work front, only a couple of days of teaching. My savings were starting to diminish and there were no agents burning a path to my digital door. My dreams of being discovered were beginning to bury themselves in a little self-doubt. So, Wales would give me a set of new set of pragmatic feet on which to stand my present and possible future.
“Learn some skills,” my wife said as part of her goodbye.
The good old Greek gods had spotted my plight and, as greek gods would have it, had decided that I may provide just a little pointless distraction whilst they endured the omnipotence of deities who had been largely side-lined in a modern world of sceptics. As soon as I had made the decision to act, they threw in a number of twists. Potential job offers started arriving. If I wanted, I had work, but I had given my word.
I bundled my clothes into a bag, filled the car up with fuel, checked the direction of the prevailing wind and set sail. May the gods protect me.
The problem is that Wales has its own gods. They are eons old, granite-hard and imprisoned within every fibre of its landscape.
To live in Wales is to be conscious
At dusk of the spilled blood
That went into the making of the wild sky,
Dyeing the immaculate rivers
In all their courses.
It is to be aware,
Above the noisy tractor
And hum of the machine
Of strife in the strung woods,
Vibrant with sped arrows.
You cannot live in the present,
At least not in Wales.
R. S. Thomas
I wasn’t just about to enter a different country, I was on the verge of another bout of time travel. And I was English.
The irony is that I am writing this just before setting off for an interview for a teaching job that I don’t really want.
Just where will time lead me?