So, the big adventure prefaced in my last blog has begun. I am writing this on the evening of Day 1, at Troyes, in France. However, I don’t really intend this to be a travelogue. That would be facile. I’ll use Twitter for those bits, and this for what I feel and think, hope and uncover.
The bright, musically inclined of my few regular readers will have noticed the titles of my last several chapters have all been song titles. Sometimes the words of the title were enough of a link. Sometimes you have to know the words of the song in order to make the connection. This chapter is a “title” one. I mention that, because I would not want anyone who knows the words (you can read them here ) to get entirely the wrong idea! The song is a well known Van Morrison piece from “Into the Music” from 1979.
There is another tenuous connection, though. The very great outdoor photographer John Beatty, who was a huge influence on my own photographic style in the 1980’s, (and who was, and still is, an all round good bloke!) used to use this track at the end of his “Touch the Earth” audio-visual show. I confess I nicked it for some of my own shows too. So, it’s a track that has “mountains” connotations for me, and I am heading to my own particular favourite mountains over the next few weeks.
But where does the “healing” bit come in? Well, I have made no secret that one aim of this journey is to mark the transition from full time employment to, erm, something else. I need it, to rid me of some demons, and give me opportunity to get to know myself again. That might sound strange and a bit existential. Yup, that’s about the shape of it at the moment. I have also started re-reading Diego Marani’s 2011 novel “New Finnish Grammar”. This opens with the recollections of a sick man, emerging from unconsciousness and hurt, realising that he no longer owns the vocabulary, grammar and syntax to put labels and descriptions to the things he sees or experiences from his hospital bed. I hope not to sound overly dramatic or pretentious, but emerging as I am, newly retired, from 39 years as a full time employee of a large organisation, I can grasp some of what that feels like. The past three weeks for me have been akin to the start of that awakening.
Today I’ve travelled nowhere I have not been before – a route from Calais to Troyes, plotted on GPS specifically to avoid major roads and towns. Just over 300 miles, taking all day. I travelled in or just behind my own personal weather front half of the time, but was rewarded with super skyscapes, like these There was, however, a great sense of release. Funny that it was the day most British schoolkids went back after the summer holiday. I think that heightened the feeling of escape, and amost illicit pleasure.
And Day 2? All I know is that it’s tomorrow.