Before you read any further it’s important that I tell you a little of the Village that I mention in the post. The idea for this post came from was novel The Villages written by my dear friend, the wonderful Dave Hutchinson (@HutchinsonDave). This is the story of my Village.
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I have what can only be described as a tumultuous relationship with my family. I’m a recovering alcoholic/addict (25 years and counting) and at times, bloody difficult to live with. There have been frequent times that I’ve fallen out with my family, particularly my mother.
On this particular occasion there had been an argument and I’d stormed out and went to live in a grotty bedsit without telling the family where I was. It was both childish and thoughtless to do that but one night they rang me at the pub where I worked and I moved back home.
I usually worked on Saturday nights but on 13 August 1983 I was feeling under the weather and stayed at home to nap on the sofa while my mum, dad, brother and sister went out to our local for a drink.
As they were getting ready to go out we all found ourselves sat on the bed in my parent’s bedroom talking. Patrick had just started seeing a girl and we were worried that she was just using him to get back an ex and we told him that we were concerned because we loved him. He told us he understood and, in one of those rare and perfect moments, we were completely united as a family.
They came back at closing time and they’d obviously enjoyed themselves. My brother and his friends decided to go out for a drive in his car. Patrick assured us he wouldn’t be driving and that it was a friend of his who’d just passed his driving test that would be behind the wheel. The three of them went out and my mum, dad, sister and me went to bed.
In the early hours of Sunday August 14th there was a loud banging on the door and I went to answer it. The police were on the doorstep, ascertained that I had a brother called Patrick and as the hallway filled up with the family and a house guest we were advised to get dressed and go to the hospital with them.
I went in the police car with my mum and dad while my sister followed behind in a taxi.
The police drove far too slowly and I urged them to go faster. “There’s no need to go fast, the road is clear and the hospital isn’t that far away.” Then the driver and his colleague exchanged a glance and I knew that the fervent mantra that was running through my head willing my brother to be okay was pointless. Bloody pointless.
We got to the hospital and a police inspector informed my mum, dad and me that my brother was dead. I cried as I’m crying now with a mixture disbelief, pain, a life gone and a desperate need for him to be wrong.
My sister arrived shortly after and I told her our brother had died. The response from my mother was a hot denial, she couldn’t accept it even after my dad had been to identify his body. At 11.00 pm on the 13th of August my brother was a person, on the 14th of August he was a body.
It’s a long time ago now. The grief has dulled its edges like a worn out and unsharpened knife that’s been abandoned in a drawer. From time to time it cuts open my soul with its still sharp tip and rips it a little more but mostly there are memories of smiles and fun.
My Village of course, you need to know about my Village. That was when we were in the bedroom together when love was present, nothing was left unsaid and we had that perfect moment.
If I could I’d be tempted to return but what if it wasn’t quite that perfect moment and instead there was an undercurrent of unease. As L P Hartley wrote in The Go-Between, the past is a foreign country and would I really want to visit a country where I no longer spoke the language or understood the rules? Who could really say yes or no with any certainty?
Would you revisit your Village? Would you?