IT IS THOUGHT THAT THE YOUNG WRITER. RAYMOND WALKER, WHILST WALKING IN HIS ADORED Scot's “ARGYLL” HILLS WAS ENSNARED BY A CREATURE OF THE FAERIE REALM WHO ENJOYED HIS TALES SO MUCH THAT HE HAS SINCE BEEN HELD UNDER a GLAMOUR.
THE FAERIE SPRITE IN HER MAJESTY AND CAPRICIOUSNESS ALLOWS HIM TO WALK THE HILLS OF HIS HOMELAND AND FERMENT TALES FOR HER ENTERTAINMENT AND THE ENJOYMENT OF HER HOST. ON THE FEASTS OF SAMHAIN AND BELTANE WHEN THE WALLS BETWEEN THE WORLDS OF FAERIE AND MANKIND GROW THIN, THE AUTHOR IS ABLE FOR A SHORT TIME TO VISIT HIS LOST LOVE IN THE HUMAN REALM AND WITH A KISS UPON HER SLEEPING LIPS LEAVE HIS TALES FOR HER TO READ. MAEVE, READS THEM ALL AND PUBLISHES THEM FOR OTHERS TO READ.
I never truly "knew" "Raymond Walker", he seems, with the passing of time, little more than a fantasy figure to me even though I once knew and loved him. I first met him in a pub in the quiet Argyll town of Lochgilphead. I was working there waiting tables and serving behind the bar when it was required and one day this rather scruffy but somehow elegant boy was sitting there drinking. I served him with his order of "Scampi and chips" as he finished his pint of lager. I learned a little about him from the locals and the odd question that he answered truthfully. Mostly he avoided questions by posing a question of his own or by completely ignoring what was required of him and starting off on a different topic completely.
I cannot now recall why but I found him fascinating and when he invited me out to his cottage for dinner I agreed. He lived out in the country near Kilmartin village in a small and rather dilapidated cottage just by Kilmartin Glen. The old cottage with the once whitewashed but now grey walls, the sagging slate clad roof and the shadowed windows and doors made me hesitate at first but because I already liked him I steeled myself and moved towards the door. It opened before I was able to knock and his smiling face greeted me.
"I heard the taxi, all is quiet out here except for the wind and the odd ghost, you hear every car, every fox shuffling through the yard, every deer outside the window".
I am not that tall but I had to duck to enter through the doorway into a linoleum floored whitewashed vestibule filled with shoes and coats and smelling slightly of dampness and mold. I imagined the house as austere throughout but when Raymond opened the inner door the heat hit me like an arctic explorer visiting the equator. The heat seemed immense and powerful. perhaps, I imagine, like it would feel looking into the orange glow of an active volcano.
I do not have the gift for language with which my lost love once entertained me but he is not here and so you shall just have to make do with my blunt uneducated statements. The room I entered was beautiful. One wall had plaster added right onto the stone and retained the shape of each lump beneath its ragged veneer, the other walls remained natural, multi colored stone, granite, sandstone, limestone, shining quartz, boulders and small rocks all combining to make each wall. The fire was banked up and held a deep red glow but what amazed me most were the candles. They lined every wall and every one was lit. It seemed that I entered a magical candle lit wonderland.
Of course I could have simply imagined the worst on the way there and been very pleasantly surprised by the heat and beauty I now saw. Perhaps to me it was like breaking open a kinder egg to find a toy inside. I know that my granddaughter loves such things. Perhaps genetics has it right as I felt as though I had seen inside Raymond Walker and that I had won a prize. I imagined that I glimpsed something beneath the rather rough and ragged exterior, something shining, something worthwhile. I fantasized that he was akin to his cottage that looked rough, old and unkempt outside but glowed with an light that echoed within.
The living room of the cottage was beautiful in the candle and firelight, he must have used a hundred candles or so it seemed to an impressionable girl. The three window ledges were covered with candles each in its own holder. He had sconces upon the walls with larger candles some upon the fireplace and a silver tray sat on an open spot on the stone floor, covered with candles. It seemed to me like a second fire and despite the chill outside the cottage was very warm. The candles on the sill's sped and fluttered with the chill wind from outside seeping through the ill fitting sash windows but that gave the place an almost ethereal look.
Perhaps this is just the meanderings of an old lady or perhaps an insight into the man himself, I cannot tell you, perhaps my mind has made up this fantasy of him over the many years since we met. Yet I can tell you that the cottage was warm and friendly and my host a perfect gentleman.
We did not sleep together that night though I wished to sleep with him and see what other magic's he could perform, he sent me off in a taxi to my cold and dull home whilst he fell asleep in his glittering wonderland. I wonder now if it was his effort that had really glamoured me rather than the man. I will never know. Glamoured, I was, I sought him out despite his weirdness and strange tales of creatures howling in the wind and noises in the night. His tales of the dead that lay beneath burial mounds and his tales of the Fae that were here, that lived so close to his house I took to be delusions or fictions. Then he disappeared talking of an unknown cairn and the "old one" that lay beneath it. But then he had talked of Faerie Queens and the un-dead, of old gods living again and beasts that walk the earth unknown in our form.
I was young then and gullible, I wished for true love and a happy ever after, where, deserted, I married a good man, one that was stable and able, a better man you could not meet. He did not drink nor smoke and treated me like a princess. He looked after my every need, our children and grand children the way that you would wish and want but I must be a bitch. I always thought back to my lost writer as the love of my life. Perhaps it was his mystery, perhaps just because he disappeared out at the cairn that day, perhaps just because he was my first true love, I do not know but I still recall the electricity that surged through me as we entered his living room and he kissed me for the first time on the lips. Soft and gentle that kiss, his breath warm touching my cold face, his lips barely brushing mine before he withdrew but I still shiver when I think upon it.
We sat and had a formal dinner though only I was dressed, I had worn a short sparkly black dress that left glitter in my wake everywhere I walked, he was dressed in a t-shirt and jeans as he always was. He may not have made an effort when dressing but he had with the food and the ambiance. I loved the glittering candles and the warmth in the depth of winter, I loved that he paid attention to me and that he had made an effort in other ways than dressing up. I shall tell you more of this later as I am growing old and need to seek my bed earlier than once was the case.
I shall resume again, I am rested and mostly refreshed. It is a quiet night here and I have little to do and so I shall write some more of my short tale. Rob had set the table up beautifully amid the glittering candle filled wonderland that was his living room. When I told him how beautiful it was he simply smiled and said "it is the candles, were you to see the same room in the daylight you would think it shabby. Stick a bunch of candles in a cow shed and it becomes a glittering wonderland". "That is not the only worth of the candles, he continued seriously, each has a name and an idea contained within it. Each is a flame or a soul passed over and each is a protection, in it's own way, against the darkness". All religions from the very earliest to the modern Catholic church have used candles as a way to give life to the souls of the departed, to keep their flame alight for another short time, to keep their protection with you".
"You believe that? I asked "or are you just telling another story? I looked at him quizzically but still smiling despite the fact that I felt a little worried about this weirdness. "are you religious? I asked without ever knowing that I was going to ask that question but I think that the "Strange" was catching.
"Not at all" he said with a big smile, I noticed his teeth were slightly stained, perhaps the Red wine he was drinking or the cigarettes I knew he smoked. "I really do not believe in anything much other than science, but what do I know, Jesus, Yahweh or even Wotun or Ra could be looking down as I am saying this thinking, silly boy. We believe, each of us, that which we wish to believe. There is a god, there are a pantheon of gods or there is no one but us in the whole Galaxy, who can ever be sure? "Not I, I am aware of my limitations and know that I do not know everything but never mind all this mumbo jumbo are you ready to eat?
I nodded and he left me there sipping my wine as went into the kitchen returning in seconds and a guttering of the many candles with the meal. It was delicious, spicy rice with chicken and peppers, warming and wholesome but the room was already warm and my host charming in his own weird way. I could hear the rain beating against the windows, the wind howling, but here I was in a wonderland of beauty and warmth. We sat at his small table all night, drinking wine and eating until I started to grow tired and wished for sleep, it was not the conversation, he kept me interested and listening nor was it the wine as I was watching what I was drinking. He was a strange fellow after all. He did not lessen his wine intake when I was there nor did he grow different other than perhaps a little more voluble. When I told him I had to take my leave he ordered me a taxi immediately and helped me on with my coat and scarf and we stood in the small vestibule looking out at the terrible night. I told him that I had enjoyed my evening with him and he said similar. I saw the taxi move onto the narrow road that led up to the cottages. With perhaps a mile to go he leaned over and kissed me. His lips were soft as he ran them over mine, gently, a sensual kiss but as I responded his tongue crept out and touched my lips beautifully and erotically as he still brushed his lips upon mine. I knew that I wanted him then. I thought that I had before I even came but now I knew and had he said a word I would have stayed but as the taxi grew closer he pulled himself away. I tried to kiss him again and hold on to the feeling but he held a finger up to my lips and said, "no more, if I keep going you just will not get to go home tonight and the taxi is almost here. I know it is probably to early to ask", He continued "but I would love it if you could come over another night and maybe watch a film or two?
I have some great films here, if you would not mind? I did not mind, in fact I wished to stay and for him to sweep me off to bed but instead I kissed him again, a light kiss on the lips and said "call me" as I turned and ran out through the torrential rain to the taxi. It was no more than fifteen or twenty feet away but I was drenched by the time I reached it. We waved to each other as the taxi turned in the mud and rain and began to make the journey back to lochgilphead and my flat.
I lay in bed that night thinking of him as I dozed off to sleep, he was unlike any other fellow I had ever gone out with, he was smarter than them all put together. He was not a threat, even when he had been drinking, as I knew all to well many men were. He was odd but charming too and it was nice listening to him talk of great histories and thoughts. If he called I was going to go out there and watch a film or two with him.
I will tell you of this later as I am tired now and need to sleep.
"Rob" called me the next night and asked me over to his house to watch a couple of films. "I will have snacks and munchies, sweeties and some wholesome food if you need to partake of the devil's harvest" he said. "I have rented a couple of films for us to watch that I think you will really like. I warn you in advance that I like dramatic and emotional films so expect to need a tissue or two for these".
We made our arrangements and said our farewells and less than a week later I was again in a taxi out to Kilmartin. The night was calm and darkness had not yet fallen and so I watched for the first signs of the burial mounds and standing stones that Kilmartin is famous for. Long before we turned off the main road to Oban and into the "Lady Glassary" woods I started to see the rises of the burial mounds dotting the valley. I could see The ruins of "Dunadd" fort on the coastal plain near the sea and the crenelations of the castle on the hill before me though most of the castle was obscured by the large trees surrounding it.
I assumed that the hill would not have been forested when the castle was still used as a defensive fortification rather than as a residency as it is now. I had endured a long lecture from Rob on Castles, their styles and usefulness. I remember that he told me of the ghosts of "Dunadd" fort and that they were not truly ghosts but rather the memories of those lost there as the Scotti were overwhelmed by the Celt's. He pointed out the positioning of the rivers and burns around the site and stated that even with overwhelming numbers Dunadd would not have been taken by the Celt's without help from within the walls. Treachery.
He told me a faerie tale where the Scotti were not betrayed by a member of their community but rather by the Fae. The elder peoples of Britain held great knowledge and lore despite their small stature, dark eyes and lack of musculature. They knew the land , the seasons and their gods personally. They knew the winds and tides, weather and the effect rain and sun had upon the land. They had no writing but passed their knowledge one to the other in stories and in rhyme. The gods they knew walked with them and among them and taught them of life and the old people grew wise and welcomed knowing that life was just a fire upon the wheel of time. All would be born smouldering and grow, gaining heat and knowledge, burn brightly and heat the land for a short while until the flame dies and ash covers everything. Then they would smoulder again for years until the heat vanishes and they leave the world.
All knew the truth but all were content with their lives, simple, hard and fulfilling. The old people occupied most of what is now Britain for thousands of years before the invasions began. The Pict's came from the north, huge raw boned giants, with red hair and blue eyes. "We were as children before them", Rob explained, "We were wheat before the Northern scythe, we had nothing that could contend with them, even our gods were powerless". "Our god's were of the land and the fields, the mountains and the weather, they were the gods of acceptance and of death". Our gods could not survive against the gods of thunder, lightning, war, death, savagery and barbarism.
So we fled before the invaders using magic and mystery to obfuscate them. Those of us they found they killed. We had no defense against the giants, that herded us south out of our mountains yet we fled before them. The plains beneath the mountains were already filled with another race, tattooed, with blue woad and tall though not as big as the giants in the north. Our peoples grew thin, our hunting grounds gone, our roaming and thinking places unsafe. We were not warriors we were hunters, we were thinkers, we were the true people of the land.
Gathered together, deeply, like grass upon an open field, we were still many for once we had owned this whole land. On a mountainside the remains of our race and our gods gathered together to consider what we may do. We were neither a warlike people nor trained or capable in battle.
Ballala our great god suggested that we flee to the mountains but already there were many of the red haired giants in the mountains and we were a people of the plains and not suited to the harsh life of the hills. Sephona, the great gods much younger wife suggested an alternative solution, a great magic that will take us away from this place to another nearby where the Pict's and the Celt's do not exist.
As a whole we cheered, we were grateful, we could continue, survive. Ballala thought the idea stupid and tried to speak again his great belly rising and falling as he tried to shout us down. He failed and two weeks later our queen and our gods retired to the huge crease upon the mountain and the cave that lay therein to perform their magic. Time was the thought and idea, time was all that we wished to suspend and our gods made a miracle.
We took ourselves from this land to an alternative land of plenty where the Pict's and Celt's do not exist. A land much like our own but one where we exist without the others we leave behind. A land of magic. A land only a heart beat away from the one we knew before. The land we occupy now does not age does not deteriorate, all remains the same and when the space between worlds grows thin at the old human festivals of Samhain and Beltane we are able to go back. We are able to occupy the human world for a short while. Rob laughed after telling this tale as though it was nothing other than fiction. I wonder now if he knew more. I have lost my thread with this thought and have to take myself back to the taxi passing through Lady Glassary Wood and over the long plain to his cottage to take me home for the night.
I passed the standing stones and car park at Lady Glassary and followed the rutted dirt and pebble road to the open square before the cottage. Darkness was descending and I saw the warm glow of Rob's candles even as the taxi pulled up. Rob was at the door waiting as I paid the driver and walked over, kissing him upon the lips, lightly, in greeting. He ushered me inside closing the door heavily behind me and took me through to the living room. My initial thought was disappointment as there were fewer candles lit than on my previous visit though the place still glittered and I felt as though I had entered one of Rob's "Faerie Tales". The table we had dinner at the other night was now pushed into the wall and sported a laptop and piles of papers as well as a few books, some open, spines upwards and others piled in a teetering bundle.
I had a chance for a better look around as Rob took my coat and scarf and went off to...somewhere with them, I assumed the bedroom to lay them on the bed as many people do or to an unknown cloakroom that I had not discovered upon my previous visit. The room seemed larger than it had upon my previous visit but I assumed that was simply because the table had been pushed back against the wall leaving more floor space before you got to the large couch that was centrally placed before the huge stone fireplace that dominated the room. It was not lit tonight, though it was set, no need to light it, I suppose, the candles kept the room warm on this far more clement night. To the right of the fireplace stood a large television, I suppose, the one that we were going to watch tonight. To the left a large bookcase packed with books. As I looked around I noticed that there were books everywhere, boxes of them, book cases full and piles of them in corners and spaces around the room. I walked up to the closest of them to look at the books it contained.
There were some I had heard of but not one I had read. There were many classics and books on philosophy, sociology interspersed in no particular order that I could discern with science fiction, Crime thrillers and Fantasy novels. Rob walked back into the room as I was looking over his books, he smiled and asked "are you a reader? "I am", I said "but do not think that I have read any of these. When I am not working in the bar, I work part time in the local bookshop, and so I get money off books that I want to read.
"Cool and what do you choose to read? he asked still smiling and obviously interested. "Many different things, I like books on art, Catherine Cookson and other period fiction, I like chick-lit, thirty something stories and I love misery books.
For a second he looked at me agog but when his thoughts were collected he asked "what Is a misery book? I laughed "it is not a real genre, I just call them misery books as they are filled with, well, misery. Often they are books about Muslim women who are downtrodden by domineering husbands and cannot escape their lives, or people who are disfigured, as I said, misery books.
It was Rob's turn to laugh, "ah you will find few books of that sort on my shelves" he said, still with delight, in his voice. "of course perhaps "Tales from a thousand and one nights" may interest you, I have the original translation by the Irish Explorer, Sir Richard Francis Burton somewhere here. It is the story of a young Vizier's daughter, named Scheherazade who is given to a King who has a distrust of woman's fidelity and so only marries virgins to have them executed the next day.
On their wedding night the king has Scheherazade tell him a tale, which she does, an enchanting and wonderful tale but one that she does not finish and so he spares her life the next day to hear the rest of the tale. This cycle repeats itself day after day for one thousand and one nights". Rob stopped abruptly with a big smile on his face. "I can tell that you were loving the idea, if you wish to know more and what happened to Scheherazade then you will have to read the book. I shall give it to you to read, if I can find it, when you are going home.
"what happens to her", I ask, but he just smiles and says "You can read about it, it is both wonderful and beautiful. I like that you read, it is important to read methinks".
Rob ushered me over to the couch and bade me sit whilst he screwed the legs onto a very old fashioned looking teak coffee table and sat it on the rug before the unlit fire in front of us. "for the snacks" he explained, "are you cold, I could light the fire if you wish?
I am fine and the couch is more comfortable than I expected.
"I am good, looking forward to the films you have chosen and the snacks, but if you do not mind I really could do with going to the toilet first". "No problem" he said, "it will take me a minute or two to get the film set up and get the food out, you remember where the toilet is?
I did and pulled myself up from the low but comfortable settee and walked down the corridor towards the toilet. Rob's bedroom door was open and ajar and I could not resist a look into the room as I passed. I tried not to be too obvious in case he was looking but I noticed a nice but ordinary room, a smartly made up double bed with clean linen a couple of bedside cabinets either side, probably from IKEA judging by the look, a large wardrobe at the end of the room. Generally it was just as a million other bedrooms would be other than that on one bedside cabinet there was a large pile of books. They were mainly hardbacks and looked to be mostly reference books or books that the better read than I may have chosen. In the midst of the pile was a paperback, slightly dogeared and protruding. I could only see a small portion of the cover but it was of a glittering green that I love.
I glanced back down the hallway but Rob was no where to be seen, possibly in the kitchen still preparing the food and so I entered the room and pulled the paperback from the stack of books. That he was a reader came as no surprise to me, that he was smart and well read went with knowing Rob, that he had written a book came as a surprise to me for the book I plucked from the stack was called "Nut Brown Eyes" and was by an author named Raymond Walker. On the inside cover was a picture of the author and he was the fellow in the kitchen putting out our food; Rob.
I did not know what to do and so replaced the book and went to the bathroom as I really did need to pee. I sat there wondering, who was this fellow really? what was his real name? Was he dangerous? I sat much longer than I needed to thinking everything over. I noticed that the bathroom, whilst not opulent was spectacularly clean. It smelled only of disinfectant and bleach, toilet cleaner and air freshener, surely that was not normal, no man is so clean. I have known only a few men admittedly but those I have known were never so clean nor aware of ill smells as Rob, Raymond, I did not even know how to think of him now.
I returned through, pulling myself together as I washed my hands in the old porcelain sink and studied myself in the small mirror that was on the wall above it. I looked worried I thought, but thought it best not to run, where could I run to? I resumed my place on the old couch that was covered in throws to make it look a little better as Rob placed the last dish of food, filling up the old coffee table before us. "are you ready for a couple of great films? he asked or would you like to talk a little first? he asked.
I smiled, I still had my senses about me though they were upset by the turn of events. "I would like to know a little more about you. You have told me a little of yourself but I do not really know you. I know you only as "Rob", I know that you are smart and read a great deal and like candles and faerie tales, other than that I have no idea who you are".
"Ah" He said, "you wish a potted history, you like me then, you are considering having a thing with me, otherwise my background would not have mattered". He was laughing and obviously pleased with both himself and me. His smile crinkled his face and showed his uneven and slightly stained teeth. I assumed that the staining was from either the cigarettes or the red wine but it did not matter, as his face came alive when he laughed. The normally serious, ice, blue eyes and the placid face was suddenly animated and I found him delightful. He seemed both more human and ordinary with that one little act. He was still smiling as I started to tell him that this was not the case but he just held up one finger much as a teacher would telling a child to shush.
I shushed. "Well where to begin. The start my dear, always begin at the start. Sorry an old friend of mine once told me that. He mimicked this as it had be told to him before.
I was born In Johnston in Nineteen Sixty-Two as that was the closest maternity hospital to my parents house in Paisley. Women were mainly taken into hospital then for the birth. My parents names are Neil and Annette, Walker, obviously, and they named me, Raymond. Robert. Maxwell. Muir, Todd, Walker. This was a family custom, Raymond was my mothers choice, Robert my fathers, Maxwell is the clan name, Muir is my mothers family and Todd her maiden name and of coarse my surname comes from my father.
Rather frighteningly I could have been Rodney had my mother had her way but my father was steadfast wishing for Roderick (the Scots version of the same name), middle ground was reached when my mother suggested Raymond and so I was, Raymond.
My mother put her foot down and so I ended up Raymond, Robert, Todd, Maxwell, Muir, Walker.
As a young boy I lived upon the border between Paisley and Renfrew before the whole family uprooted and moved to Campbeltown, a hundred and fifty miles from here. You know of Campbeltown?
I simply nodded, I had never been to Campbeltown, I knew nothing of it but I had seen it on the road signs than ran through the town. Again I was worried that he would think me stupid. I was hoping that he would continue; one fear, "Raymond, Robert" he had said, laid, the first, to rest.
"I left and attended college in Edinburgh, where I became a bohemian of sorts for a time. I read and studied but not the things I was there to study, rather I grew lost in the philosophies and histories when I was there doing a degree in "Polymer Process Technology" I grew enamored with the idea's contained in fantasy novels and so in a way my field of study changed.
I ended up having a great job that paid well and one that allowed me to travel the world but I wished to be nowhere more than my native Scotland studying the old races that inhabited this land and the places where relics of their times remain. I gave up my good job and moved here to Kilmartin to study more and to write. I have written a couple of books with a little success and I wish to write more on my ideas and thoughts" If you go over to the bookcase in the corner you will be able to see my books and know I am telling you the truth.
He smiled, "I hope that was not too much for you to take in but it was all truth. It is now your turn to reciprocate, I have laid my life bare before you, your turn. His smile looked almost predatory, I knew that he had not only told the truth but that he had given up everything, things that he would not have wished to have mentioned, things that were not his to give away but I think that he had not told me all. "Sorry Rob", I said "it is not enough, I may not be as smart as you but I do have eyes. Who is the girl that appears here and there, photographs, mentions, memories. Is she your ex-wife?
He was obviously startled and as he moved he hit one of plates that was balancing precariously on the put together coffee table.
"Sorry, no, I suppose that I left that out. I feel rather embarrassed about it" he said, "after my wife and I split up there was a beautiful girl from Canada that I fell in love with. I went there a few times and she came here but she has left me now. She is back in Quebec with her daughter and her own life and I stayed here, mostly my fault".
I was kneeling before him, picking up the food that he had spilled onto the floor and placing it upon my empty plate when I asked him. He smiled as I finished, but there was a look of sadness in his eyes.
"you miss her? I asked, he was quiet for a few seconds before he answered as though he was trying to get his thoughts in order or trying to make excuses but when he spoke it was rather disarming, "I did, love her, in a way I still do, for you just cannot erase someone that you care so much for easily from your heart and mind. I have not found it easy to let go of her even though she found it easy to let go of me.
"Now it really is your turn" he said. He sat back as though engrossed and gloating. He had told me the truth with all the pain it caused him. He deserved nothing less in return. His Story was sad and worrisome but my own was a thousand times worse. Rob knew nothing of me other than that he liked me. He had been honest even when it had hurt him, I had no choice but to be as honest and straight forward but I will not tell him all. My shame will not allow me to. I will tell you tomorrow of my life for I must sleep now and gather my thoughts.
Just as I did on that day delaying my truths I did this night. On that day I retired to his bedroom with him and we held each other for warmth, our closeness taking away our past hurts. In the morning he rose first and started brewing coffee as he visited the toilet and soon after returned to our bed with two cups of rather pungent and strong coffee.
We both had a few sips and recovering our wits as we pushed the pillows agaionst the headboard and sat quietly I told him.
My part of the bargain.
I was raised in the west of Scotland in the beautiful rolling countryside of Ayrshire, by my mother and father, wonderful and thoughtful parents that looked after me and my siblings with all the love that parents should but often do not. I was a lucky girl, we did not have much money but we always had enough to eat and a great upbringing,
My mother was softly spoken, an earth mother who loved her children and husband with all her heart and to the exclusion of all else apart from god. My father was a different kettle of fish, religious too but he was loud and vociferous where my mother was quiet. He worked, long hours and looked after us when time allowed but he was often tired, the bread winner. My mother was a stay at home mum and her whole life was made up of her children, as you may expect but my father helped where he could.
I think I portray my mother and father here as humans with the frailties and inconsistencies of many others but steadfast in their duty to the family. We were raised well; my brothers, sisters and I and can never complain about our childhood, we were looked after well. I cannot say where things first went wrong for me but I suspect that my upbringing was so good and that my father and mother, the perfect parents, were so good that I wished the same doom upon myself.
I wished similar for myself and expected things to be just as good, so when the opportunity presented itself, still in school, I fell in love with a handsome boy. We married soon after I left school and a little later I was pregnant. We called her Lara and were happy.
I was still young and a new mother and wished to be like my own mother and so devoted my time to my child. My husband, however, hardly knew he had a child, he was still living the life of a single man. He went out most nights. drinking, chasing other women and generally living the high life whilst I stayed at home looking after our baby.
At some point I confronted him about it and that was when I was first punched. I think that opened the floodgates as his fists were well used afterwards, not just on me but the doors and walls of our house in his frustration. I also knew that he was seeing other women when he could but I was pregnant again and hoped that things would improve after the new child appeared.
It did not and a few years later, a few more beatings, a few more times, I knew he had been with other women, was enough and taking my two daughters and a couple of black bin bags full of clothes decanted back to my mother and father's.
There I stayed for quite a while, my two daughters and I sharing a bed in my parents back room but better that we shared a bed than a fist to the face or belly.
He swore that he loved me. I believe that he meant it. But what is a love that is bathed in infidelity and violence directed towards me and my children. A love that decides on it's course through cruelty and hurt. That is no love I wish for.
I hope that you will forgive me, for leaving this tale for the evening,I am tired and ready for my own bed, I shall tell you more tomorrow.
I did not tell Rob all of my life story on that night but I told him much that I had kept from others for many years and though I missed out many of the worst parts of my life I was to tell him more or less everything over time.
I only say "More or less" as I did not have enough time with him to tell everything. He listened to my tale, my upbringing, my mother and father, my first marriage, the violence with interest and only interruptions to clarify something I had said. As I finished he nodded and said only, "I would never treat you like that, no one deserves to be treated in such a fashion" he moved over and took me in his arms and held me close to comfort me for in the telling of my tale I had grown sad and was crying by the end. There was no kissing or fondling but rather the attention one friend would give to another that was grievously harmed. I think it was at that moment that I began to fall in love with him.
I started traveling out to meet him more often and began spending the night at his cottage and he traveled into town more often and starting visiting me with regularity. We first had sex soon after the night in his cottage where we learned of each other whilst sitting on his couch watching films and eating, it was so easy to grow intimate with him, it felt right and comfortable and I shall say no more about it other than it was wonderful.
We fell into an easy routine, visits, nights together, talking on the phone, I grew to know him well and he, I. I read a couple of his books and learned from them a little more about him whilst he learned more about me. We became a couple and were devoted to each other.
Rob was great, thoughtful and earnest but full of fun and wit when it was required of him. There was only one thing that bothered me about Rob and that was his belief system. I believe in god, the biblical and all knowing god that I learned of as I was growing up. Both my parents are ardent believers and I have come to believe. Rob does not believe in God, not a serious problem for me, people have their own views and ideas, they have their own philosophies and ideals and if they are a non-believer then that is their right. Rob, I found, thinks likewise, although an atheist he thinks that no one knows the truth about the existence of god (or of gods) and if anyone truly does then they are "keeping quiet about it, something a religious zealot never does"
"you are as likely to be right as I am" he proclaims, "Only god knows the truth and I am not his confidant. Anyone that tells you that you are wrong to believe is a fool as no one truly knows. Years of education and teaching and I cannot say for sure what is true and what is not. I do not believe in an omniscient god but that is simply my Idea. I believe in evolution and the ascent of man but who said that god did not decide on evolution as his plan to end with the human race, or another race that will ascend from us. Who Knows? He simply shrugged. I appreciated his thoughts on a superior being or god but that is not what always worried me.
Rob did not believe in God or a pantheon of gods, he was not completely sure about evolution or being governed by the smartest people, he would tell you that "life" could be just a ruse perpetrated by an alien race upon the creatures in a small petri dish or upon an atom spinning in time, so nothing worried me there as he was open to any thought or system of ideals. Any philosophy or religion, thought process or idealism but the problem was Rob believed in Faeries.
This educated, well mannered, man believed in little winged creatures that lived at the bottom of your garden. I could not come to grips with the fact that someone so well educated, so knowledgeable, so erudite believed in something so silly. Yet he did, he talked to me often of the Sidhe, the Shee and the fae as he believed them to be real, In fact he said that he had met some of them.
Rob told me of a fellow he had chanced upon whilst walking in the woods one day, A small, sturdy fellow with an unnaturally large head that sat by a lively stream, as most streams are at this time of year in (not so) sunny Scotland. This small dumpy fellow, little larger than a midget played an ornate lute with such beauty and sweetness of voice that he could only be a StromKarll. Rob tried to explain the lilting melodies and the beauty of the Stromkarll's voice to me but I was only half listening trying to imagine what this creature may be if it actually existed at all. I imagined that Rob was inventing ideas for his tales about the lands of Faerie and had imagined them so vividly that he could not separate the story from reality.
This sprite, nymph, satyr, I cannot now remember what he called this creature, told Rob of his own doom. I imagined that if he had indeed come upon someone sitting by a stream that they were not a creature of the Faerie realm but rather a short, stout, boy playing his guitar and singing. A busker, who had probably removed himself from the town or village centre into the woods to smoke some weed or indulge in a bottle of Bucky. Something you can witness in any town, city or village the world over. The names may be different; Weed and Buckfast perhaps replaced by Hashish and Mad dog 20/20 or Maryjane and gut rot Whiskey, whatever your choice of poison happened to be.
I worried about this change in Rob, I worried that whatever was causing it, the trouble might just be me. After all I was the change in his life, the big difference that had appeared suddenly to change everything. Rob seemed lucid and well adjusted as we sat. talked, ate or made love, there seemed nothing abnormal about him his attitudes or thought other than that he believed faerie tales. I noticed that he also began to withdraw a little from me, what had started as a hesitant romance, had began smoldering and then had caught light consuming both of us. and this had continued for quite some time now. I knew that I was already in love with him that I had already fallen for him but could not be sure of his feelings towards me. What had been incandescent was smoldering again and had been ever since he told me of the faerie creature, the sprite or whatever, he had met by the stream in the woods. I was hesitant to ask him about it again as in truth I feared for his sanity, but at the same time knew him to be the a well adjusted and sensible man with lofty thoughts but no malice in him.
At first I wondered if he was just caught up in the writing of his book that he was separating the reality of me from the fantasy of the story he was telling. One night a few weeks ago he told me of the worries of an authors schizophrenia, the possibility of attaining multiple personalities and at the time I laughed. Now I wonder. Pontificating, one night as we sat across the table from each other, his blue eyes sparkling in the, it seemed to me, eternal, candle light, he started telling me of his writing process.
"I suppose everyone writes differently" he started, "there are no rules and set ways of doing things, to each their own, and so I can only tell you how I create a story, others will do it differently, perhaps better, perhaps worse. I have an idea of the story and where it will go before I start writing and even an idea of where it will end but that may change as the story progresses. I rarely plan a tale in its entirety before I start writing but it has been known. Normally I have thought of a scenario and idea that will become a story if I can only imagine it. I start writing, deciding upon the characters and their attributes in my mind as the first few chapters are placed upon the page. I grow to know these people even more than I ever have as shadows In my head".
"They are real people then? or at least based upon real people, people you have known? I asked expecting and waiting for the worst of answers. I did not receive them.
"They always are, real people, I mean, I may change and adapt them from their original personalities, hopes and fears into what I wish or need them to be for the purposes of my tale. Still the people that they always were, is there in the midst of my new creation, they become new based upon my thoughts of them and my Idealized interpretation of them. In a way I become each of my characters understanding them deeply and intimately so much so that if, immersed in dialogue, you ask me a question I will answer as the person I happen to be writing of at the time. I can jump from character to character as though there is no parallel each remains in my head talking and telling me what to do and what to say, what they would say. I always remember Bill Bryson saying. when talking of "writing colleagues" that "they are all gone they either drink themselves to death or swallow a bullet"
He laughed, "I expect to do neither" he kissed me and still laughing, remarked "but there are so many voices in my head and all are talking so don't be surprised if one tells me my time has gone. I can remember the look on his face, it was one of joy and disbelief In this case, he did not believe his own words.
At his point I have become aware of the reams of text that I have produced. I still wish to tell you the story of "Rob and I", but I have ran out of space. I do not wish you think that I have forgotten you or that you will have to pay to read the rest as it is just my ramblings and so I have added another page to the website called simply "Rob and I" where i will continue to tell my tale of our romance until it is complete.