Middle England

Giving myself self imposed exile in Austria, affords a critical distance of my native country that would otherwise go unrecognised and vanish in a mass of banality.  Having to catch an early morning flight back to the valley in the mountains, there seemed to be only two choices.  Survive the refugee camp of overnight stay in Stansted airport or a quaint little guest lodge somewhere on the border between Harfordshire and Essex.  A grumpy taxi driver, complaining about the start of the holiday season and the daunting aspect of families staining his leather seats, drove swiftly along the winding roads,
 "That`s about all there is for you here, love" he stated pitifully as I saw a thatched drinking house disappear as we swerved round the corner to a yellow one storey house with Tudor windows.

     Entering the driveway the wheels on my case dragged through the stones, causing little piles to collect.  Suddenly, I was taken back to my grandmother`s house where we´d spent many family holidays.  The sound of tiny stones under car wheels would commence lazy days of falling asleep in the conservatory; playing cricket with my grandfather and brother in the garden and listening to Holst`s planets lying by the fire on a sheep skin rug.
   Interrupting my reverie a tanned, middle-aged man with tawny brown hair and a navy blue short and t-shirt set ambled round the corner carrying a watering can, "If you just ring the bell, someone will be there shortly" he nodded to a small door.  Going though, I noticed  different types adaptor plugs all gathered together, randomly in a display case, where whiskey or trophies perhaps once would have sat.  Typical, I thought, just when you don`t need them.  Only two weeks earlier I had a nightmare finding the right adaptor to convert from Europe  to UK on tour with dancers to the London Contemporary Dancer Center. 
     A teenager, no more than 15,with the same tawny brown hair entered behind the front desk, he sort of swayed, dazed and confused.  His eyes seemed to gaze straight past me in a unfocused way, so I said, "White...the name is White" He glanced at me suddenly remembering his role "Oh" and gazed idly back down at the notebook in front of him full of scribbles in a pen made table.  His black biro hovered over the bookings and then he pinpointed my name before handing me a huge brass number 5.

Five, the five fundamental virtues: wisdom, love, truth, goodness and justice-I´m taken back to my grandma`s house with her brass tools hanging at the side of the log fire place.  As the fire crackles and spits, I unhook the brass brush with its coarse horse hair and dust pan and sweep up the soot from the ceramic tiles.  Placing these brass tools back onto their hook, I come back to the smooth, gold coloured five weighing heavy in my hands.

    Looking back to the tanned teenager, I notice his shirt is spattered with multicolored paint  "What have you been painting"? I ask.  Realising again his recent past that he all but have seemed to have forgotten,
"A huge canvas, at school"
"How big"?
"Don`t know....ummmm...about as big as" I start waving my arms around for him and watches my hands tiredly estimating  "ummm..." 
"About two meters"? My arms finally rest.
"Yeah, about two or three meters.."  he brightens "lots of people"
"Ah participatory art"! 

Suddenly remembering the role he was supposed to be in he slipped back into, "Did you enjoy your trip"? I responded by taking back my role "Yes, thank you", I nodded. He smiled pleased that I`d picked up the cue and idly looked back down at the scribbled bookings again.  I continued in my role "I booked a lift to the airport at six in the morning"? Breaking his original formality, "Yes, my dad will be here to take you there" then continuing as if reminding himself to complete the performance "If you would like something to eat, you can walk eight minutes round the corner to The John Holboum pub" he signaled lazily with his hand. I repeated the name to myself "Holboum"
With another curved hand signal he finalised "To get to your room follow the house round"  "Thank you very much", He smiled content at his performance.  As I made my way round to my room the navy blue clad owner seemed to smile warmer and greet me properly.  A little humanism goes a long way, this thought drifted into my mind as I unlocked the sandalwood scented door.  
    Later, drifting off to sleep with the sound of wind chimes gently blowing in the breeze and the dull roar of planes taking off to foreign lands, I drifted into a reverie in a low level lodge, painted yellow.  In a courtyard a boy was waiting by a open fire.  Coloured cotton strips of material draped criss-cross around the open space.  Small groups people gathered together playing instruments, in the Lapis blue night, their faces glowing from orange flames.  Arriving in a helicopter that made no sound, I stepped out as it silently rested in an ever expanding courtyard.  People appeared dancing and painting on a canvas that drifted from the air to meet nimble hands creatively activated, brushing spats of colour upon white once material now white light.....5am awake to bells chiming, phone singing loud in my ear.  A short scramble onto a jumbo jet with queasy teenagers; finally landing into pre-thunderstorm mountainous heat.  Waking Life.