Thursday, December 27, 2007

Peace on earth

Can't say this is original, I wrote it as a contribution to a thread over at Public Address - Someone paid me one of the kindest compliments I have ever received as a result. Its real and about as me as it gets, worth preserving then. Enjoy.

Peace on earth 1.

My father and I spent the day arguing I’m drunk, he’s barely conscious. We have guests. I’m laying the table, I drop a fork, he tells me to wash it, I reply “you f*****g wash it”. The guests have to restrain us both and someone else washes the fork. We sit to eat, I’m serving my father, doing it silver style, I twitch, purely by accident and cover him in overdone, quite mobile greens. He eyeballs me, I eyeball him and the room elects not to take any further breaths for the time being. Then I see what I think is the vaguest crinkle next to his recently greened eye. We both look to either side and I really can’t remember who started it. A smile, a chuckle, a giggle and then peals of tear busting, asthmatic provoking laughter; the spirit of Christmas brings peace for another day.

Peace on earth 2.

Still not over the breakdown of a 4 year relationship, feeling quite sorry for myself, I elected not to celebrate Christmas. I was nursing an extraordinary hangover having passed out at 7pm the day before. The house was freezing and I could not be bothered to connect up the new gas bottle, I crawled into bed instead. The phone rang three times; I decided not to be in. Then this awful banging on the door “Saes ! we know you’re in there - John and Della are coming to collect you in half an hour !”. John and Della owned a farm over the hill, Della had been my tutor at Uni, they are both the most decent committed Christians I know and I am about as atheist as they come. Failing to contact me by phone, they in that very North Wales way checked with my neighbours and got them to alert me instead. People like me don’t deserve friends like that. I don’t remember the meal or much of the following days. I do remember standing in an empty slate quarry with five companions singing Hymns and carols for all my voice, and what could be taken for a soul was worth. I can neither describe nor understand the peace that moment brought me.

A gift from my partner.

My partner gets my need for solitude which is a great comfort to me. One Christmas shortly after we first got together, we finished work on the evening of the 23rd, packed gear and drove from Sheffield to the northern highlands of Scotland. Late afternoon met our arrival at the bottom of a small range of Corbett’s and Munro’s I’d recce’d the year before. We did a night tramp for the first part, pitching out about two thirds of the way from the top of this particular peak. Christmas day from the camp looked a bit misty and not too bright, by eleven it had cleared just enough for us to photograph the wreck of a WW2 Wellington bomber. We could just see the peak and decided to have a go with what looked like quite a long zigzag route. As the ascent progressed the Sun came out and we went really fast, no words, just the crunch of snow and us. They call it a flow state and it was one of the most complete moments of my life. At the top I could see the range, the sea, my partner, two sets of tracks and not another living soul. Not the highest peak I’ve ever done and by no means the most difficult or indeed the most spectacular scenery, but it was mine. Only half the chocolate was mine though. It became clear at the peak that my partner was getting very cold very fast; with old gear not really up to the job, I cracked out my dry set and my partner doubled up layers. We set off downhill quite fast and made quite a wise decision at camp deciding to continue the walk off. I put my partner in the bothybag with a hot pack and pitched up. As we walked off a blizzard followed us all the way down to the tree line where we camped briefly and then carried on the then thick snow. Sat finally in a snowbound car I realised my partner who really hadn’t enjoyed the show, had given me one perfect Christmas day.

If Santa didn’t exist would we have to have had invent one anyway ?

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