It’s taken a while for me to get myself to one particular part of this island. Just down the road from here really, but I’ve gone on all sorts of diversions to avoid it. My old manor. That little corner of Grouville where I first discovered how to be a human. There was a little bramble path leading to a tumbledown white farmhouse with a huge garden. Now instead of the brambles we get this:
It’s beautifully maintained. A groundsman was driving around on the perfect turf on one of those mowers that you ride. It looks pristine, but it’s so very far from the place where I skinned my knee coming over my cycle wearing shorts. “It’s because you hit the brake,” said dad. “You didn’t need to hit the brake. Your own fear is what hurt you.” Apparently down the end of that avenue there are two elderly people living in a monstrous Romanesque villa littered with statuary. I know some of the extent of it. I drove in there once with the intention of introducing myself. Nobody was home that time so I couldn’t see the inside. I didn’t want to go there at all this time. I’ve almost forgotten the new reality. I’ll stick with my memory of the copper beech and the meadow, dad’s roses, the huge garden and the little white house.
Just around the corner, my grandparent’s place still looks the same. I felt bolder there and went to knock on the door. I was greeted like an old friend. A very different reception in every way and a happy thing. Having seen nobody really through my isolation and in the days after, suddenly I was in animated conversation with this lovely couple. We all had a moment where we fondly remembered the neighbour, an architect who would invite me over aged 16 and give me whisky and lend me his books “We’ve got the books!” they cried. “Yes, we didn’t really know your mum but OH YES, we REMEMBER your FATHER.”
It turns out the husband is an amateur thespian. “Come out here, we’ve got a real actor” and then I’m talking about The Dream with a lovely fellow who will be a suitably fearsome Egeus in July in the grounds of Samares Manor – and if it gets rained off, all the better as they get to go to the party early.
I left with contact details and an invitation to stay next time I’m over. So incredibly hospitable, genuine and Bohemian. My kind of people can be found on this island it seems. I still think I’d like to move back here somehow, so long as I can afford to shuttle over for my work.
Then down the road to the cold red stone on the bright clear hill that marks where three of the lost are lying. Last time I came I dug bulbs into the soil with a clam shell, and they have risen, so I did a good job. Daffodils – past the season, but lovely to know they took. I had my time with them, and asked for their help as you do with your parents and grandparents. And then I found my way back here to work on my laptop.
I have so much personal history in this tiny fertile rock. Here with the soil and the water – this is where I grew. I never remember that I miss it until I get here.