I spent several days with him, cycling and drinking, talking and cycling.
Although his bike fitness wasn’t fully there, it was still enough to pull me along. We went along coastal routes, alongside pristine beaches, and through forests that were the haunt to the British Royal family. My initial impression was that Wales was wonderful. It took a little while to see that it was empty.
The house that my friend was renovating was in real need of assistance. Almost three hundred years old, it had spent the last forty slowly falling in on itself. Although he had replaced the roof, the interior was just a shell. As part of my active re-engagement with myself and the world, I had offered to work on the renovation with him. This was less than a month into my illness but the sun was out, I was exercising and my friend was managing to make me laugh. I was all set for the therapy that was working with ones hands.
I have done such labour before and find that the lack of thinking it affords me allows for a Zen-like clearance of the head’s hidden junk. I was not the only helper as the next door neighbour, a bull-like ex-soldier of seventy was on hand to help in every way that he could. He showed some interest in me especially when he learnt that my last name was originally Welsh. Apparently that carried some kudos. It wasn’t long before he started to venture into the kingdom of opinions.
“So, what do you think about Pakis?”
“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”
Noam Chomsky, The Common Good