The Hilden Beer Festival, Lisburn, Northern Ireland Friday the 23rd August 2013 is a night I shall remember for a long time. It wasn’t the fact that I was drinking fizzy water whilst surrounded by real ales and rock bands and much frivolity but more to do with the concept of acceptance.
I’ll have to keep this short as I’ve got an appointment with a paint brush and bedrooms but I can only wonder and at how perceptions of self do not always marry with the perceptions of others. I met up with people friends and not friends I hadn’t seen for approximately twenty years. I hadn’t actually been to the Beer Festival for twenty five years and the memories are somewhat fugued. However this time the memories are not fuzzy at all and if anything the things I can’t remember are caused by too much happening in the space of a couple of hours.
There is a sincerity amongst people who ‘really’ know you that cannot be labelled by anything that I know of that exists in the world of Criminology. It just is. There is a look, a frown of annoyance, a shrug, a smile and finally an embrace. There are a few expletives and a spatter of abuse thrown in for good measure but at the end of the day it is the embrace that seals the deal. It says I’m comfortable with you, I might not understand or forgive you but I am safe to let you into my bubble. My bubble was burst about thirty times the other night, over and over people stopped, checked it was me called me names and then hugged me at one stage I had to take myself off, hide, out of the way and let it all sink in.
For the first time, on an evening out, I didn’t get a panic attack. The only slight panic I had was when I was informed that I had to pay £2.50 for a pint glass and I wasn’t even drinking. So, I bought two for my two friends who came with. We got home at one in the morning, way past my bedtime and I escaped, just as well as the others carried on until day break. This time shared, is another chance to explore the pitfalls and the positive of re-integration and the endorsements of friends who don’t judge explains a lot about how and why we continue on the up and up.
I spoke to guy who’d also seen a bit of time and he told me about a family member telling him never to darken their door again. I spoke to a friend who told me they are on tablets because of the tensions between two of their family members. This was not a good thing and I could tell how much it hurt but when these people told me that it was the only negative in a mountain of success it seemed to resonate with much of my own experience. One negative cannot destroy time. It can put the brakes on for a bit but it will never stop the march. A dear girl-friend whispered in my ear “take, a breath, stay calm and keep going” as she gently squeezed my arm.
Time heals all or doesn’t. It’s how one negotiates it is the kicker. I’m off up the Mountains for a few days. All cell phones, laptops etc are to be left at home. The bliss of silence in the mountains where one can forget about time until the next time.
By Michael Irwin
Automatic pilot enveloped in grey
Black crows beckon the wakening day
Feathers buffeted against the silky grain,
Streamline smoothness torn by gust and flurry and rain
I – ain’t in no mood nor hurry, gentle breeze in my room
Doesn’t fully portray the storm in my gloom
I – tired of waking
I – tired of sleeping
I – tired of walking
I – tired of squawking
I – need to lie down
I – need to get up
My only comfort coffee in my cup
Cannot smell, cannot tell
Cannot question this living hell
I – a tortoise living in my shell
A shell of the man I used to be
A fine figure of a men
Now, like life, emerging,
Like the first glimpse of bird or tortoise’s beak
From inside a shell, tapping away
From the inside out, a world full of doubt
Will I spread my wings and fly
Will I curl up, crumple, whither, and die?