Rob loved birdsong, loves it still I expect. I wonder if he hears it from his cell. He does have a window now, one that actually opens. He also gets a daily hour outside in the “yard”. I think I glimpsed it whilst being herded through the various checkpoints on my visit: A concrete, high fenced pen, topped with barbed wire. Not an inviting prospect for a little bird, (or for a man) but I hope that perhaps just one little fellow might be generous enough to brave the aesthetics and release some torrents of defiant melody from its little beak for the benefit of the detainees. Back home I am acutely aware of the birds these days, waking early or sitting at my laptop whilst the sun goes down and Tala sleeps. Against the stillness of the house, it is clear and fresh and full of summer.
The house feels so much bigger with him gone. On our first weekend alone here I decanted all of his coats, jackets and shoes into the cellar and suddenly whole realms of space opened up. One pair of his size 12 shoes takes up twice the space of mine, a fact which had previously rather irked me, but I miss them now to the point where I even consider bringing them back out of exile.
Tala’s room is now just home to a growing collection of dirty socks, pants and T shirts, as its occupant is squatting other quarters, namely mine. I ask her if she misses her little bed. She whispers back to me so as not to offend the previously cherished bottom bunk. “No, but don’t tell!”. The kitchen, whilst still officially in use, is certainly not the epicentre of times gone by. We forage there and compile odd combinations of foodstuffs that make sense only to ourselves in random moments of hunger.
I have very little trepidation about the confiscation orders that will be debated and decided in January. The only thing I wanted out of this debacle has already been taken and deposited at HMP Hewell. This terraced house that fitted the four of us perfectly swamps us now, with only one of its bedrooms in full time occupation. Okha is mostly out enjoying her summer and doing what had seemed an impossible dream only months previously: working and playing hard. We’ll all be fine wherever we land. We will make space, be creative and compromise.
I visit my friend on her wide beam canal boat, (part of my resolution to say “Yes!” to good things), and we move (well she moves and I watch) via a loch to a new temporary mooring. It is beautiful on the water with the sun and the breeze and the river life all around. Here on the boat you don’t just look at the canal, you are inside it; part of it. I used to walk almost daily down Regents canal with the dog, wondering how exactly the locks worked and what the boats were like inside and now here I am experiencing it and it’s brilliant.
On the boat there is room only for what you need or what you love. Change is truly the only constant here, moving from mooring to mooring and the things that we take for granted like water, gas and electricity require consideration and care. It strikes me again that it is actually rather fantastic that I have had the rug pulled out from beneath my feet like this. It is an opportunity to realise that almost all of what I have I don’t need. Furthermore, it is an invitation not to spend the rest of my life trying to accumulate more of it.
A letter comes, and then, as I am reading it, a prison phone call! This I do need. I am starving for his voice and his words. Wonderfully his letter is less informative and more personal than the previous two missives and even though the call is brief, I feel as if I have been plugged back into the mains. He sounds well and less shell shocked than before and yet whatever I am going through he must be experiencing tenfold.
This assertion is confirmed in his letter where I learn that, in desperation for vegetables he has chosen a side of carrots alongside his lamb biriani, even though boiled carrots do not go with anything except perhaps a roast dinner as far as Rob is concerned. In the past there were few things that upset him more than the concept of an alliance as only unholy as pasta and carrots. Ah, how far the mighty have fallen. He signs off his letter confessing to feeling a little queazy as Keith has just stripped down to his pants…No offence Amanda if you are reading this, but love is blind and it’s early days for Rob.