m e r r y

[ 23:30 tuesday 24 december – sandhurst, gloucestershire ]

three weeks since i landed in london. my plan was to whistle through some meetings there then race back to stromboli. but warren came over from san francisco and craig arrived from norway and we had so much to do and every day a new lead came up for someone else i needed to talk to. i wouldn’t admit to myself that i’d abandoned my escape to stromboli but i suspect i made the decision within a few days of arriving. it was all very productive and i was able to see a lot of friends but i’ve been pining for the sea and the ravens and the ever-changing silence. i have dreamed about the island several times. from september 2001 to october 2002 i was never away from stromboli longer that two weeks. it’s already two months since i left there bound for america. i doubt i’ll get back before the middle of january.

last week i tried to do some “christmas shopping”. i took a tube into central london and walked into one shop then another. i wandered through the relentless shelves of cheerful, pointless objects; trying to evaluate each one in relation to people i love. but after an hour i had bought nothing and was feeling nauseated. i walked out onto tottenham court road, put down my backpack in the middle of the pavement and remained perfectly still as the mass of shoppers streamed around me. almost immediately a sense of well-being and freedom sprang up inside me. i stood there for a long time, breathing slowly and smiling. from time to time someone would catch my eye and there would be a fleeting expression of puzzlement as they hurried onward. nobody smiled back at me.

i arrived here at mum and dad’s house a couple of days ago. it has been raining a lot. the fields are very muddy. yesterday i cycled into gloucester and got wet.

now it is nearly midnight, nearly christmas. the people scatter platitudes of peace and goodwill whilst an unneeded war is kindled in their name. everything grows dark and complex. my parents are at church. they were worried i would put too much garlic in the supper.

to my friends, the readers of this inadequate journal, in australia, malaysia, new zealand, brazil, italy, the united states, spain, germany, finland, china, norway, canada, ghana, japan, india and the united kingdom of great britain and northern ireland:

i bid you a merry christmas

: c

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