The Priests telephone is ringing with an old fashioned jangling ringtone

  • Sunday, July 16, 2017
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Ever since I heard the howlin' wind
I didn't need to go where a bible went
But then you know your gifts seemed heaven sent
(Justin Vernon, Heavenly Father)


There is something sacred and holy about coming home after a hot summer run and sitting in the garden with the cracks and knots of the warped wooden fence at the West side of my garden slicing and shining the late afternoon sun like the mellow strobe lights of heaven. I sit with blood from bramble cuts and sweat running down my legs and cold Thai beer dribbling down my unshaven chin, the label with it's two Elephants puckered and peeling with the condensation beading on the green bottle curled in my left hand. Above me the Zimbabwean flag stirs slowly on the breeze and an unsuspecting pigeon sits on the umbrella above my head, it's shadow misshapen and mutated through the canvas and sharp tipped feet scrabbling for purchase like the sound of rain.

It's been a tough week where my stress and distress has risen sharply. I knew I simply had to get out and run and try to roll back the creeping black tide that is my mental health. It's always the trees and the soil where I go, the textures and the smell of summer ferment calm me and possibly remind me of a better place and time where life was simpler and there was no demand or responsibility and I didn't have to think, I was happy in my solitude and summer seemed perpetual. Somehow the contentment of solitude has been replaced with a sense of isolation and anxiety and I dread the inevitable approach of a winter that I can do nothing about. I have such a deep love of the woods, the ridges and undulations under my feet, the roots, stones, flowers and grasses. I run the same beaten pathways over and over, past the ponds with their ducks, moorhens and herons, along the river and on the homeward stretch past the Catholic Church where the Priests telephone is ringing with an old fashioned jangling ringtone from another bygone era. As I go past I wonder if it is announcing a birth or a death, both causing the incumbent to reach for his yellowing Bible and thumb his way through the thin pages to the appropriate passage or if it was something as mundane as a double glazing salesman calling. I will never know and I hurry past, wheezing toward my beer, the edifice of my life just about standing.
Running in South Croydon in April, I spent 15 minutes out staring a deer in the rain.
June, always within a mile of the Sheep...

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