In early September, just before my father’s birthday, I found myself driving through the village I was married in when he had been already dead for five years and I a parent for three, longer if mothering step children is counted as parenting.
The trees we planted as each child was born now peer over neighbours’ fences, reaching for the skies, and a line once drawn with thin wire between two homes, the site of domestic wars, is now a flourishing hedge, a dense and impenetrable shield – as if a defence against all thought that we might ever have tried to be at peace, free of rules or boundaries.
Later, on his birthday, the 8th, an ailing tooth took me back to a small town awash with ghosts now haunting shops turned from brick-a-brack to preloved irony; coffee must be drunk from cups twice the size of laundry bowls, free range bacon sold in artisan rolls and yoga practised by lost souls where once we lonely divorcees danced with our prospective loves, all of whom had failed to honour warrantees and promised an eternity like us.
On that same anniversary, of my father’s birth a hundred and fourteen years ago, and forty years after his death I cried, for the Queen I thought.
Cherry Coombe –
(The A222 stretches between Great Linford – Stony Stratford – and Buckingham, edging ever West – towards an ending.)