I listened to a poem this morning penned by the Welsh entertainer Max Boyce. Entitled, When Just The Tide Went Out he wrote it in tribute to the NHS and frontline workers in the UK who are so valiantly fighting to keep the corona virus at bay.
After hearing it through the first time I played it for my wife, and, only a few lines in, I couldn’t stop myself from crying.
The swell of emotion took me completely by surprise, but it was acute and visceral and has left me thinking about it for the rest of the day.
Going home or, more accurately, travelling from your home to a place you used to call home years ago drowns you in familiar dislocation. Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep or the fact that these journeys so often start in the soft hours before dawn that heightens our sensitivity to the weird. Either way, you feel like an interloper in a land where time, unlike your memories, has ticked on.
Bypasses plough their economically booming furrow through the land. New buildings thrive in the displaced earth on either side. That’s what it said on the slideware so it must be true, right? I wonder what happens when there’s nothing left to bypass.
Didn’t so and so used to live there? Next to the roundabout? Wait…was there a roundabout there before?
Ten years ago, right about now, I was probably thinking about going to bed. A little tame perhaps for an unmarried man in his early thirties but otherwise nothing very unusual. A normal bed in a normal house with (fairly) normal people.
The only thing that marked it out as a bit odd was the fact that it was a few miles away from what I called home. About eight and a half thousand give or take.
October 3rd 2006 marked the start of a new chapter in my life. A big adventure. Moving to a new continent. The theory was simple. T and I were planning on getting married and we realised that logistically and financially it made a lot more sense to do it in South Africa. We figured we’d spend a bit of time, see how we got on and on some level I think we assumed we’d head back to the UK soon after.