And what about the brothers? Do
they have a place next to Uncle Wally? One of them, after all, is my father.
Their outlines smudged by death and the passage of time. A lost tribe coming
down from the hills to watch us as we puzzle our way onwards, lives that spanned
the twentieth century, abandoning the north of England in the twenties to find
new ways in the south, drawn to the magnet of London. No longer here to insist
on their right of occupation, their reality, their truth, the miners' lamps dim in the glare of the violence of our longings, our prejudices, the darkness of
our desires. The mines are closed, the steelworks flattened, the giant leaks
remain in lovingly tended vegetable patches.
Muscles are useless now, there is
no need for them, so we find our new leisured ways through the labyrinth.
Father, father . . . who do I call? – God, dad, priest or all three, some strength in support, to keep me facing forward when I despair of the thread that is supposed to lead
me out. The thread that turns into futility and failure, when the flame of hope
is extinguished. Is there somebody, some father, shouting on the touchline,
that, yes I can do it and to bloody well get on with it.
A call to rekindle the mischievous glint, to move into the
centre, to look across the dance floor, to see the line of women, cool or warm,
smiling or poker faced, a challenge to dance.
But then we might ignore the
wisdom of the ancestors, slip away, lie, fabricate, tell each other stories and
find another war to fight. If it’s true that some of us only find meaning in
war, then despite the opportunity to pay attention to the exposures carefully
expounded at the Chilcot inquiry, there will be those persuading us to arms.
Yes, and I’m also trying to follow what Uncle Wally is saying – a lot of
swearing, a lot of laughter – no words of guidance, more like, work it out for