Friday, November 27, 2009

A journey and friendship

I am almost recovered but more importantly, things are getting back to normal. I didn't realise quite how much I liked normal til now. I hope my American friends had a really great and happy Thanksgiving yesterday and are rolling around on the floor, stuffed to the gunnels with turkey and all the trimmings.

Since it's Friday, I'll begin with my piece for the Loose Bloggers Consortium, a group of people united in a common word or phrase which each week, we get to write about. For my UK readers, it's like Loose Women, without the aggro. Check out the wonderful blogs of the other members:

Emerson, Lake and Palmer, The Sage from Pictures at an Exhibition.

The words 'a journey' transport my mind straight to the Emerson, Lake and Palmer song The Sage:
I carry the dust of a journey
that cannot be shaken away
It lives deep within me
for I breathed it every day

When I was a little girl, I always wanted to go on a magical journey; I was sure I had pirate blood and adventure is what I sought....arrr!. I loved to read and the story books, with all their bright colours and special people, always seemed to be "just over the hill and far away"; that appealed to me more than anyone could ever know. I longed to travel there, to be in the sunshine with gold paths, chocolate waterfalls, blue skies and women dressed in brightly coloured dresses, the children all blonde curls and friendly eyes.

I thought about it for a long time, wished it to happen but it never did. So, at the tender age of seven, I decided to take the matter into my own hands. I would go on that journey and search for this mystical place that would make me so happy and when I got there, I'd send for my sisters.

I thought about what I should take. Any notions of a knotted, spotty hanky round a gnarled stick were dashed as no such thing could be found anyway. After a long debate with myself, I realised what I'd known all along: I couldn't take anything for fear of being caught. I didn't want to take any chances as this journey was going to be the chance of a lifetime.

I was very nervous from the moment I woke up. I gnawed at my nails, as if the answer was in there somehow and glanced furtively at my parents over the breakfast table, knowing that they'd be able to look into my little kidsized brain and know immediately what I had planned. Miraculously, they didn't seem to notice and after an eternity, I was on my way to school. I'd calculated that not turning up to school at all was sure to cause problems, what with having a twin sister in the same class so my best bet would be at 'playtime' in the afternoon; I'd be less likely to be missed.

I couldn't concentrate all day, with my lack of jumping on demand culminating in the belt from the teacher, just before playtime began. With my hands stinging and a ringing in my ear, I fought back the fat tears, determined to carry out my plan all the more. As the other kids played 'Charlie's Angels' or 'Starsky and Hutch', I felt a pang as I was wearing my Charlie's Angels Jumpsuit that day but I said no when they asked me to join in and they soon left me alone.

I hung out by the Victorian railings, waiting for my opportunity to jump over the broken part of the wall. I gnawed at my poor nails some more and, with my little heart thumping hard against my chest, I went for it. I jumped over the wall in a Starsky type leap and ran across the road only to find a car hurtling towards me. As my life flashed before my eyes, I froze, right there in the middle of the road, like the proverbial rabbit caught in the headlights and the driver pushed on his brakes as hard as he could. That moment went on for a lifetime and all I could do was stand there, watching my fate unfold.

He had stopped just at my feet and I could see through the windscreen that his eyes were blue. He got out the car, shaking and asked me if I was ok. I nodded mutely and then sprang to life, panicked incase I'd been seen; I looked back at the school but nobody had noticed. I ran onto the pavement and all the way down the hill until I reached the bottom. I stopped for a breath and, since I had a penny in my pocket, I nipped into the dairy for a penny Dainty to sustain me on my long, and by now, quite arduous journey.

I slowly opened the caramel outside the shop and popped it into my mouth, enjoying the sugary taste and gathering myself as I did so. I looked up towards the school but no-one was looking for me so I continued down the hill. I knew which general direction to take as I could see the place I was looking for...the top of a hill, a flash of green and knew that it was over that and not so far away from there.

I found myself on the main road and walked along it, surprised by how busy it was since all the children were at school. No-one paid me any attention and I walked by the butchers, the bakers and the cafe, all unnoticed. A black cloud appeared overhead and it started to rain a little. I shivered and felt a little scared as I was leaving familiar territory, territory which I'd only faced with my mum or dad. I was determined however and, with my arms wrapped round me for warmth, I kept going.

After a while, daydreams running round my head of what I would eat when I got there, I started to hear screaming. I could see some kind of commotion up ahead and my steps began to slow as I saw a crowd gather. A cry, like a wild animal came from within the group and I caught a glimpse of a man, naked from the waist up, with blood over his chest and down his face. I stood still, mouth agape, looking at him. He had another man in his grip and it was wailing, like one great beast and unlike anything I'd ever heard before. Suddenly, and only for a split second, the man looked at me and blinked, and went back to his fight.

I stood terrified, sure he was coming for me next. I turned on my heel and ran back the way I'd come, crying and scared. The rain was heavier now and I didn't have a jacket. I didn't stop running until I reached home. I flew in the door, sobbing, trying to explain to my dad what had happened and he gave me a hug, dried my hair with a towel and told me to calm down. When I'd had some hot tea, I explained in a quieter voice what had happened and he looked at me with an expression of amusement and bewilderment; "where is this magical kingdom?" he asked. I went to the window and pointed "over that hill and far away". "Hen" he replied "that's Possil....that's no magical kingdom, you don't want to go there!" and then he roared with laughter, as did I although I had no idea what we were laughing about.

On feeling ill, I've become accustomed and I'm dead sick of it. S'cuse the pun. I emailed my lovely friend Shona for some advice on superfoods and she sent me some wonderful advice which involved eggs, vitamin D and sunshine. Yesterday, a day wherein I wallowed, feeling sorry for myself and crying "why? why me???" in my head, Shona, like the angel she is, turned up with a bag of goodies designed to put a smile on my face and a filling in my tum.

There was fruit too but Fraser ran away with it.

Irish Soda Bread...delicious!

The pepper was sliced and, along with the tomatoes, roasted with sea salt, pepper, Parmesan shavings, sprinkling dried chillies, squeeze lemon juice and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Leftover soda bread for breakfast with Parma ham and scrambled eggs. Mmmmm!


ER said...

I wanted to go on a magical journey when i was a child, too, Helen. I finally did it...when i was 48. That's when i moved to Scotland and found my magical kingdom. :) I love your tale and the way you tell it, it brings back sweet memories of childhood. Now, i'm hungry... again! Those goodies look glorious. Soda bread is one of my favourites. My Irish gran made the best, but this looks a close second! Lizzy :)

Protege said...

Beautiful story, you are actually a very talented writer. What an adventure, I sat mesmerized reading every word...I was never brave enough to go on any solitary journey as a child. I guess I felt content where I was, but I sure made up for it as an adult, I guess.
Love the recipe, I think I need to try this out as I am too sick a lot this year.
Have a lovely weekend,

Judy Harper said...

I could feel your excitement and trepidation as you built us up to the actual jump over the wall!
Very good. You have a twin sister? Why wouldn't you have wanted to go to Possil? Your Dad was very understanding to a little girls dream.

Janice said...

Your story was told so well I was held enthralled! I expect we all have those thoughts of 'a better place' in our head at some time when we are small and powerless, however Possil certainly wouldn't be up there in the list of places to choose!

By the way, I seem to have caught your cold!

Rummuser said...

I wish now that I had thought of writing the magical journey that I took when I was a wee lad. Yours has a lot of reality, mine was pure fantasy, on a magic carpet and flying all over the place! Beautifully written and very involving the reader with the narrative.

Judy Harper said...

Helen-If you go to my site, scroll down on the right to the archive section, you can see two stories, with pictures, under "the Air Force" label. Thanks for your comment!

Peanut-Butter Kitty said...

Hi Helen,
Enjoyed the story. Your are very talented. Growing up, when my mom would get mad at my sister and myself, she would say "I wish your real mother would come and get you." I always fantasized what my "real mother" would look like, where she would take us, she was always nice. Alas, she never came. Enjoyed the visit.

Grannymar said...

I was standing by that school wall with you waiting to jump and my heart was thumping as we ran back home to your house! Great journey.

Marianna said...

Even though you didn't get to "far away" you had quite the adventure. Just like life...we plan for one thing, and we often get another.

Hope you are well soon.

5thsister said...

I have just spent the past half hour on your blog. Delightful! I think I'll hang out for a while if you don't mind!

Conrad said...

Oh, Helen!!! LOL!!!

You really have a knack for telling a story. And, I think you really do have a bit of that pirate in you still!

That incident with the car, though. Wow! That is why, as parents, we worry our kids are like us, huh?

Unknown Mami said...

I am so happy that your adventure ended with you in one piece, you naughty pirate-girl.

Jo said...

Helen you crack me up. Loved your story. Oh the magic kingdom that is Possil!!

Glad you are feeling a bit better honey, hope to be able to catch up next week.

Jo x

Sumandebray said...

wow! what a lovely story. Reminded me of two of my classmates who left school one day during 5th standard. they planned to go to Bombay to become filmstars. But their journey did go any further than the bus terminus. Luckily for them!

June said...

What a fun read this was for me Helen. You had all my attention through this whole delightful story of your plan to find the 'magic kingdom'. I love a girl with a sense of adventure.

I Wonder Wye said...

stuffed to the 'gunnels?' New word for this 'yank' (actually a Southerner). Enjoyed your post -- I think every kid runs away at some point or other. Do hope you are feeling better -- hot tea always helps in that regard...blessings, and thanks for stopping by.....

Melissa B. said...

In my book, sunshine is the miracle cure for whatever ails you. That and turkey stuffing. Can't beat either one!

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Silver said...

Loved your adventures! And..Mmmm, looks so yummy!


Christine said...

Helen, this is a great story! Very fitting for bedtime:)
I just have to say that the irish soda bread your friend brought for you, is BEAUTIFUL! I know, it's only bread...but wow it looks too pretty to eat. It's actually glowing and should be on the cover of some foodie magazine. HAHA, I think I might be hungry:)

gaelikaa said...

Helen, beautiful story. I had to read and reread it, didn't want it to ever end. I love that Scottish endearment 'hen', it brought the Scottish side of my family to mind. You capture the inner child's voice in a wonderful way. I'm rather late visiting my LBC friends, but I've had a super time catching up on the posts.

Btw, thanks for making me laugh the other day; I enjoyed your comment on my 'Aunt Urmila' post! Lol!

Magpie 11 said...

Oooh...the feelings that story engendered. I love the descriptions.
I never wanted to go on that journey..I think that The wizard of Oz scared me as a child.
Or perhaps I have no sense of adventure.