Friday, February 24, 2006

The year 1191

The fire five or six years ago had destroyed nearly the whole pitch. Worst of all was the end of the real old holy church, which was so vulnerable, just a wood and daub shack held together by kisses. Now it was just a black patch with no grass, like at the end of someone's garden. This was the holiest place in the kingdom! We did what we could, we went over the charred land to see if anything could be exhumed. Some of the things we found were old; people reckoned Patrick and Dunstan. This is the centre of it all, man.

Straight away the old man made it his darling project. We had the whole exchequer surplus in the first year to get us moving again, we laid out something that would match the abbey itself. We needed it for Patrick and Dunstan and the crowds. We got cooking and the Mary part of it was run up in a couple of years. But then, he died. Richard wasn't interested, he needed every penny for his Palestine adventure, and it seemed our church would never get built after all.

Then a few people began to say that we weren't paying enough account to just what a special place this was. They said we'd only scratched the surface, that we ought to think about where the major burials would have been and just keep on going down until we hit something. We were all thinking saints, Columba maybe. What we found was husband and wife. No, it wasn't me, it was Will that touched her hair. It was yellow gold.

I'd been around here all my life, but for the last seven years we hadn't had a proper roof over our heads. I was bivouacking with Wally and Loz and I lay under the stars that night and it was the first time I knew I was in fucking Avalon. Someone had Creedence playing Fortunate Son and man, it was a beautiful feeling. At dawn I was tripping on Wearyall Hill and I saw the waters surrounding it and the old bridge where the river runs out. The landscape flipped and I understood, I saw Bedivere standing on that bridge and flighting the sword. How many times have I parked down there and strolled a couple hundred meters along the road to the Shopping Village and I never once noticed that dusty sign "Pomparles" as you cross over the Brue.

I always love the village. The streets are packed with shoppers, there's lingerie, kitchen shops, sportswear shop, oh a Body Shop, Wrangler, Starbucks, M & S, you name it. Hawkmoths slip 4-inch tongues into the hanging baskets, there's Food Factory when it's cold, or if it's fine you sit in the yard under the mulberry tree and you can wander round the tent display or you can watch people queue up by the cash machine. There's a brick chimneystack from the old Clarks factory, it's in the blue sky, everyone's bright-eyed with the bargains they're finding and it's just a place that makes you feel happy to be alive.

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