So…. I was on the way back to London from Devon…. to spend my 30th Birthday with my family in a rub-a-dub dub in Essex!!! 🙂 ….. and thus far all my wishes and desires (that I’d had in the tree house in Laos) had come true. I’d had fish and chips on the sea front at Lynmouth – CHECK! 🙂 ; I’d walked to Watersmeet…. and back!!! – CHECK! 🙂 ; I’d visited the Valley of the Rocks – CHECK! 🙂 ; I’d surfed (ok…. body-boarded!!! 🙂 ) at Croyde – CHECK! 🙂 ; I’d had a pint and a Full English at The Thatch – CHECK! 🙂 ; and I’d spent an hour to talking with Nicole…..
We’d met in the town centre and walked down East St. to Barking Abbey. Although we hugged and kissed when we met, we didn’t hold hands as we walked, so something was definitely different, and all Nicole talked about was her sense of “feeling broody” and wanting a “mortgage”. She asked me what I wanted in life and if I wanted those things? I explained that I did want a kid one day, but I wasn’t planning on it yet, and if it did happen then I’d prefer it to just happen. And as for a mortgage, well, I explained that I didn’t understand why people say it like that because, I’m sure, when I was growing up people used to say that they “wanted a house” and not a “mortgage”. I said that I didn’t get where this new terminology had come from and the last thing I wanted, in life, was to be enslaved by a bank with a “death pledge” which is what the word “mortgage” actually meant.
“Oh… don’t lecture me, Lee” she said. And that had changed too because she seemed to really like it when I went off on one, speaking my truth, before. I knew I was losing her if, in fact, I hadn’t done so already. “So what do you want in life, Lee?” she asked me again, ever so sweetly. “I just want to be happy, Nicole, and I’m happy to just get by doing the things I want to do.” I answered honestly. “Get by?!!! Dont you want better in life? I’m not just getting by… I want the best!”Nicole said, equally honestly. “To me, being happy is the best, Nicole”…. I explained my perspective to her and then she explained hers to me…. “But, to me, Lee, the best is what makes me happy.”
I’d lost her and I knew, there and then, that she wasn’t the right girl for me…. but emotionally I still wanted her…. so what do you do? What you do is you keep to yourself the fact that your greatest ambition for a home, in life, was to pay rent to the council for a council house!!!! 🙂 My God…. if I’d told her that then it would have been most definitely have been game over, set and match!!! And I didn’t want it to be. I still wanted her, even though I knew she was wrong for me….. blokes hey!…. what can you do with them!!!! 🙂
We continued into the grounds of Barking Abbey and sat on the grass in what was formerly the Nave. It was such a beautifully English summer’s day, the kind where it’s very warm, but with no humidity, and a soft breeze blows the scent of flowers and cut grass through the air. Barking Abbey looked exquisite that day, with the surrounding trees bellowing their shades of green while being silhouetted by a deep blue sky with its cloudy sundry. There were a number of other people enjoying the peaceful space that day too and as we walked I clocked almost every geezer there checking Nicole out as we passed! I didn’t mind, and I didn’t blame them, she was so beautiful and she radiated a stunning sense of femininity and sex appeal, it was no wonder that every man looked like they wanted her, and no wonder that, even though I knew she was ultimately the wrong girl for me, I still wanted to be with her….. blokes hey….. what can you do with them!!!! 🙂
We sat in the sun, and surrounded by the Abbey ruins, and continued to talk about what had happened to us, where she was at and travelling. She still wouldn’t say that definitely wouldn’t join me on my journey around the world and so I invited her to join me on my little recce to Devon. She said that sounded amazing, and she’d think about it, and then we just spent some time together, holding hands, on the ground, in the grass. It felt amazing to be with Nicole and I cherished every second I was with her. It felt massive to me just being able to hold her hand again and I began to think maybe I hadn’t lost her after all as I continued to feel lost in the moment.
A group of young lads, whom had been sitting close by, watching us, began conversing with Nicole from a distance, and being cheeky with her too, but not in a disrespectful way. Nicole gave as good as she got back and I just smiled because it was just like how I was when I harmlessly flirted with the check-out girls in the shops we visited on that Saturday before I left. It was nice to be on the other end of that experience because you can only take the harmless flirting as a compliment. The lads clearly thought Nicole was “a sort”, but she was with me, and that felt good…. at least for that hour!!! 🙂
After the brief cheeky interlude the lads apologised for disturbing us….. and gave me a respectfully envious nod, wink and smile out of Nicole’s eye-shot! 🙂 …… and me and Nicole spent some last moments quietly holding each other…. in the grounds of Barking Abbey. Then we walked out of the Abbey, and through the Curfew Tower, and back along East St. to Barking Station where we said our goodbyes and went our separate ways.
Although I didn’t expect that Nicole would be coming with me, to Devon, I clung to the thought that with Hope, there is always a Bob, and I might see them together on stage again!!! 🙂 However, that evening I received a number of text messages, that I didn’t really understand, but the gist was that something unexpected had come up. I tried calling her, but she didn’t answer my calls and then she texted me to let me know she wouldn’t be able to see me again. It wasn’t unexpected, but it was heartbreaking all the same. I tried to put a brave face on it and thus…. I went down the pub!!!! 🙂
I walked up the town and bowled into the Spotted Dog, had a pint, but didn’t know anyone in there, so I popped across into the Barking Dog, had another pint, but still hadn’t seen anyone I knew in there…. Gor Blimey, Barking had changed since I was a teenager!!!!…… so I wandered down the Station Parade and passed the Brewery Tap, popped in there and happened to see an old mate, Nicky, who I hadn’t seen in years. He was a face from the manor whom, although we had never been bosom buddies growing up, had always given me time and respect, as I had always done to him. It was good to see him!!! 🙂 I bowled in, bowled up to the bar and bought a bottle of Newcastle. Nicky was playing pool, but had clocked me too and so I bowled over to him. He looked pleased to see me and he told me he’d just got out after doing some time. I didn’t inquire where or what for as he immediately asked me what I was up to these days. “Well, would you believe I’m on trip around the world and I’ve just popped back for my 30th birthday! A few days ago I was sitting in a tree house in Laos!!!”
Blimey…. even if it was the truth it probably wasn’t the best thing to blurt out straight away!!!…. because…… quite frankly….. it did sound like bullshit and I could see the split-second look in his eye when he weighed up whether to believe what I just said or call me out on it!!!! 🙂 Instead he took the most non-committed and respectful option and just carried on as if I hadn’t said it at all!!! Cool as….. I had to laugh at myself!!! 🙂
Nicky continued to play pool and we continued with a bit of catching up as he played, minus my talk about travelling…. even if I was still in “backpacker” mode!!! 🙂 It was nice to be in the company of a face that I recognised and I was starting to feel my old jovial self again. There were a couple of birds standing around the pool table too and so I just thought I’d “break the ice”….. so I just said to one of them “Hey sweet, how are you doing…. you alright?”……. “I’m engaged!” she said sternly in reply while looking at me like she wanted to smash my face in!!!!….. Blimey, I didn’t expect that response!!!…. but I tried to make the best of it!!!!…… “Ah lovely…. so when’s the happy day?” I said, while attempting to keep jovial and being genuinely interested and happy for her at the same time!!!…. “Look just fuck- off!!!!” her friend suddenly shouted out at me!!!!
Blimey…. wasn’t it nice to be back in Barking!!!! 🙂 I didn’t get the chance to respond because then a geezer suddenly bowled up to me and said “Oi….. That’s my fiancée you’re talking to!!!!” while pointing at me! I just replied “Yeah, I’m pleased for you and I just asked when the happy day was!” while still trying to keep a jovial tone!!!! 🙂 To be fair, I don’t think he expected that kind of reply, and it seemed to knock him back a bit, but he had clearly already decided that if he was in for the penny…. then he was in for the pound…. and so he continued “Look, she doesn’t want to talk to you so fuck off!!!!” while intimating that, in his opinion, we were petering on the edge of “mayhem”!!! “No, I’m quite happy standing where I am, thank you” I replied, while changing my tone and letting him know that I didn’t give a fuck about the edge or his opinion.
“Come on” he said, to his fiancée and her friend, and they left me and fucked off outside!!! Blimey, Thank God for that…. what a load of bollocks!!!! J Nicky, in the meantime, had finished his game and shook my hand saying “It was good to see you, Lee” and then fucked off into the other bar. I’m not sure if he felt uncomfortable by what had just happened, but it left me standing there, in the middle of the pub, with half a bottle of Newcastle still to drink. It was awful. I was very on my own, very out of place and felt very not belonging to the very place in which I’d grown up. I didn’t know where to go or what to do, so I just stood there, in full view of everyone looking at me awkwardly. My jovial state had rapidly left me and then I suddenly had the urge to go to Barking Abbey.
I walked out of the door of the pub, with the remainder of my Newcastle in hand, and as I went outside I happened to see the “fiancée fellow” sitting on a bench and he caught eye contact with me. He stood up and, at first, I actually thought I saw a look on his face like he was going to apologise to me and I was getting ready to say “No prob bud, all good!” and wish him well for his wedding!!!! But then his expression suddenly changed and he started looking all menacingly at me again…. for fucks sake!!!!…. and I just rolled my eyes and walked on!!!….. then I heard him shout behind me “YEAH….. FUCK OFF!!!!”….. I just let it go again and continued on my way….. but then…. as I was about 30 yards away and almost going around the corner…. he shouted out again…. “YEAH, FUCK OFF YOU WANKER!!!!”
Well, by then I’d already started to feel quite upset, but at that point it turned into anger…. he’d told me to “fuck-off” three times and I wasn’t accepting being spoken to like that anymore…. I quickly changed the grip on my bottle, turned around and started “storm-walking” directly towards him shouting “WELL COME ON THEN!!!! YOU FUCKING WANT IT SO LETS FUCKING DO IT… YOU CUNT!!!!!” I walked about 15 yards in his direction and he then just sat back down with a blank expression on his face!!!! “WANKER!!!!!” I shouted as I stopped walking towards him “WANKER!!!!!” I shouted at him again. Then I changed the grip on my bottle once more, turned and started walking away again. I heard him, half-heartedly, call-out “Wanker” towards my back, as I walked, but I couldn’t give a shit. I was too upset to care by then and he’d had his chance. I was suddenly in pieces and it took every bit of whatever self-control….. I didn’t have left….. to stop me from bursting into tears as I walked along the remainder of East St. in order to get to Barking Abbey.
As I walked, I just couldn’t get over the fact that I could travel around the world and get accepted……. by people that didn’t even know me…… wherever I went….. but when I came back to Barking….. to my own manor….. and tried to be myself…… I got that. It hurt man. It fucking hurt. I got into the Abbey, found a spot and then I just cried…. I sobbed, uncontrollably, for about an hour…. but it wasn’t just about that…. it was about everything…. it was about Nicole and what happened there…. and there was something else too….. I didn’t know quite what…. but there was a pain I was feeling that went beyond that of a lost love or a community rejection….. I felt like I was grieving for something…. and I didn’t know what.
I don’t know how better to explain that, I’m just pleased that I was in Barking Abbey when it happened. I’ve never felt emotional pain like I did that night and I thank the Heavens that at least I was there when it happened. I pulled myself together, I said some Prayers and I left.
….. And so, after all that I was heading back to Stonehenge!!!! 🙂 You forgot where we were didn’t you!!!! 🙂 Fucking hell…… I know I did!!!! 🙂
I arrived at the Stones, parked along my usual spot on the Drove and went to complete my usual ritual and routine. It felt good being there again and as I wandered back I happened to see an Indian family walking along by the corner of the Salisbury Plain side of the Drove. I thought about the ring and I wondered whether they may know any Sanskrit or be able to shed some light on what any of the words meant on the ring. I caught the family up and then politely asked the father if he could help me. He took the ring from me and examined it in the late afternoon sunshine. He looked at the wording on the inside of the ring and then looked closely at the wording on the exterior. Then he shook his head and said “No… I cant see any words I recognise.” I felt my heart sink a bit as my expectations had been rising as he was closely examining it and he went to give the ring back to me, but then he suddenly recoiled and looked even more closely at one of the words on the rings exterior “Oh” he said “I do recognise one… there’s a word in Hindi.” I suddenly felt like J R Hartley finally tracking down his book in the Yellow Pages TV advert!!!!! 🙂 “There is?!” I said, with exclamation 🙂 “What does it mean?” I asked, with absolute intrigue! 🙂 He smiled at me and as he handed it back to me he said “It means…. greetings.”
Wow!!!! Wow!!!! That was the moment. That was the moment when I felt elevated and I knew that something very special was happening to me, and I had to complete this journey, whatever it was, and wherever it was taking me. That was the moment when I felt like I was walking on air!!! Wow!!!!! 🙂
I thanked the gentleman, his wife and his family and I bid them a good day and an enjoyable time at the Stones!!! 🙂 Then I headed off to spend some time at the mounds and the Circus (my spelling!) while continuing to “walk on air”. I was blown away by that, I was absolutely blown away, because some things then, suddenly, began to make a lot of sense.
God, I loved my life sometimes… and all the bollocks… Well, you’ve just got to get through it… haven’t ya!!! 🙂
As the sun set I lay down in the field, between the Mounds and the Stone’s, and I finished another book that I had been reading. And then I just dozed as I momentarily watched the Sun fall behind the western horizon. The air became chilly as dusk began to set in, but I didn’t want to leave my spot as I was enjoying the dewy feel that tells you that, although not quite here yet, autumn was beginning its approach, but there were still going to be some warm sunny days to come!!!! 🙂 It provoked a strange sensation in me… one of a sense of loss along with the excitement of making the most of whatever was left. I guess I was relating to the feeling of sorrow for the near end of summer coupled with joy of the fact that it wasn’t quite over yet!!! 🙂
Either ways, I knew that whatever I felt, and however I would go on to feel, I had to make the most of this journey and what was left of it…. and I couldn’t let any amount of “soppy bollocks” malarkey stop me!!!! 🙂 So it was back to East London and Essex, my family and my 30th Birthday, and a restart with a new start!!!! 🙂
I didn’t wish to leave Stonehenge that evening, but I said my goodbyes because it was game on!!!!…. Come on!!!!…. Then it would be back to Thailand!!!! 🙂
Lots of Love,