Returning (7″ Radio Edit)
Upon leaving, twenty three years ago, Terry had decisively and irrevocably consigned the village and everyone living there to his past.
Now, for the first time since that day, he could see the village again and there was no doubt in his mind. Fear and hate were with the person who left and not with the person returning.
We were nearly there. Around the next bend, a left turn and there was the common stretching away on both sides of the lane. Our parents, and their parents, had camped here while they had worked on Jimmy’s parents farm picking runner beans. We were continuing our families’ tradition, and it was one of our favourite hatchin tans, as well as one of our favourite crops to pick. A pound a ten pound box and we could pick a hundred boxes each a day for six glorious weeks!
Earlier this morning I was out of bed at four thirty, up with the larks, listening to the songs of the hedgerow birds while carrying two buckets of pani over to the horses Whistle and Stonker; who whickered gladly at my approach. Satisfied that they had had their fill and were content and in good shape after yesterday’s journey of nine miles, I returned to our camp of wagons and lit the outside fire to boil the big iron kettle for the morning cup of tea.
The sun rose majestically into a pale blue sky accompanied by an anthem of praise as we broke our fast on home-cured bacon and free-range eggs cooked in the cast pan hanging on the kettle iron. Another cup of tea, and a fag of baccy, and we were raring to go on the last stage of our journey. Grabbing the lead ropes and the sledgehammer, I walked back over to the horses, knocked their tether pins out and led them into the camp where I brushed them down, chucked on their straps and yoked them to the wagons.
Our open fire had gone out, and the turfs cut the previous afternoon back in place, we quickly checked we hadn’t missed even a rogue matchstick. Satisfied our camp was as clean as when we arrived, we picked up the horses’ reins, and with a gentle “walk on” we were under way. Only another nine miles and we would be there!!
The Drom: the road, the way. Hatchin tan: stopping place. Pani: water
Returning (12″ What is Forgiveness Extended Remix)
It had been twenty three years since Terry last saw the views from that stretch of road. Back then they were in his rear view mirror as he left the village without a thought of ever returning. His departure had liberated him the place where he grew up and consigned everyone living there to his past. It had taken great courage to leave for a future that was so uncertain.
During preparations for his return journey Terry had declined the offer made by his partner to accompany him. He had also tried to imagine the feelings that might be pulled from his past once he was back in the place that had scarred him so badly all those years ago. As he approached the village he was surprised how everything seemed just as he remembered. There was something strangely reassuring about the forces of nature that shaped the landscape. For reasons which now seemed obvious, the beauty of the surrounding countryside was something he had never before appreciated.
As adults the places we grow up are forever clear in our minds. Memories, colours and events of our youth can be triggered by the smell of hay being cut or the smell of summer rain on hot tarmac. Vivid memories that are golden and full of optimism, wonder, joy and laughter.
When reflecting on his childhood, Terry had once said all he had was a headful of hell. He had spent twenty three years coping with unwanted and unsolicited memories triggered by sights and smells. He had no control over the triggers and would often find himself suddenly shrouded in darkness at times when he least expected it. This was difficult for Terry and the people around him.
In learning to navigate a future free from the misery of his youth Terry had endured great pain. He had been damaged in ways that had taken years to understand and mend. It had been hard to make sense of his past and even his present. Those early years had been full of fear and they had been stolen from him. They were a childhood he could never live again.
Unsurprisingly Terry had spent a lot of time pondering the subject of forgiveness. There had been many lively conversations with his partner and friends and it was through these that he discovered forgiveness was actually a big can of worms!
Terry had concluded that forgiveness, was for the most part, a term of convenience. One that avoided getting to the root of a problem. For him a more important word was ‘understanding’. The distinction between forgiveness and understanding was that one allowed problems to be perpetuated and the other allowed people to grow. He wondered too if forgiveness might be about power and if forgiveness is about power, can it truly be about forgiving?
It was only after leaving the village all those years ago that he began to find happiness. He soon realised the corrosive nature of hate and with time was able to embrace and understand other fundamental life truths; healing, kindness, love, fear, passion, honesty and anger. He knew he was still a work in progress but he had a sense of identity and purpose.
With the village now in sight and without any feelings of anxiety he was certain. Fear and hate were with with the person who left the village and not with the person returning.