Monday, 24 December 2018

Round 52.


Three young men are sitting in a field in Ireland; they are watching the ocean and they are listening to the sounds of the insects, busy in the long grass. Later they will go fishing.

They are barely old enough to be anything more than grown boys, but they are independent both in mind and spirit; they are a long way from home.

One of them has a small portable radio and he switches it on, scanning the frequencies for something interesting; the static of the broadcasts mixes with the sounds of the crickets and the summer afternoon stretches in front of them full of possibility.

Suddenly the clear sound of the radio interrupts their dreaming as the tuner settles; it’s a hymn. One of the three recognises it and mouths the words silently.
Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all hope…

Far away, in time and place, Alice Henkins is crossing the road with her dog. The road is busy and Alice is a little nervous of the traffic but she needs to go to the post office and buy a stamp. 

Alice is elderly, she has already reached her seventies and her eyes sight is not good; she wears thick-lensed glasses but even with them she is uncertain how wide the road really is. Her hair is elderly too, white in a way only silver and grey can ever be; it is curly. Her dog is a poodle; it’s hair is the same.

One thing links the three boy-men in the field in Ireland and Alice Henkins crossing a busy street; myself. I was in the field and I am here now watching Alice; I slow my car to let her pass. 

The radio is on and I am listening to the same hymn.

Each of us has possibility flowing in front of us; each of us can struggle to hold on to it.

The following morning I wake and listen to the hymn again; it is an instrumental version and I mouth the words noiselessly once again, as I had that afternoon in the field in Ireland. A man came then - the landowner - and told us, clearly, to move away. We were not wanted.

Alice did not appear wanted either as she crossed the road, several cars swerved to avoid her and one sounded the horn. Alice Henkins is deaf so she didn’t hear and continued her struggle to the pavement.

This morning, after listening to the hymn I went for a run through the forest. The leaves of a golden autumn were softly settling about me as I ran.

I thought about Alice.

I thought about what I would cook for breakfast when the run was done.

I thought about three lads in a field in Ireland.

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