Eira Froyd.

Today I met Eira Froyd.  

Froyd, not Freud. But only because her husband (Gerald)’s father’s cousin was Sigmund Freud and Gerald’s father didn’t like that, and so he changed his name. But it could have been Freud, and Eira insists that, really, it still is.

The two hours I spent with Eira Froyd were two of the most special I have spent in a long time. And it is hard not to think of them as hours that were given to me as some sort of gift, which means I need to either do something with them, or reciprocate, with a gift of my own.

To begin with I am going to try and write them down, as they were. They were a lot about Eira, a little about Gerald and, the more I think about them, they were about me.

Eira and I ended up sitting opposite each other on a table seat from Euston to Manchester. I was booked on the seat next to her but we decided, at the same time, to take up both sides of the table and hope that nobody else sat down with us. “Put a big bag on the seat”, said Eira. She was half joking.

Anyway, nobody came and sat with Eira and I.

She told me about her family, her sons and daughters and their wives and husbands and their children: “all so bossy, I just do as I am told” “I can’t believe that, Eira.” “ No, I do, I don’t like to cause trouble”. And then I believed her and it made me feel sad.

Eira is welsh for snow.

When she was born, on 11 December (she didn’t tell me the year) it was snowing so badly her father kept saying “this snow, bloody snow”. So, that was Eira. This ‘bloody snow’. One day, many years later, she met a man who told her she was ‘the most beautiful of all the girls’, and he called her Snowdrop.

Eira trained as a nurse and moved to Kenya. She moved to be with her husband, a soldier from the war. They met at one of the nurse’s dances in Wales when he was back from fighting in Africa. He was the most handsome man at the dance, all the girls had loved him, and so had she.

They moved back to Kenya together, and she worked in a kindergarten. They lived in a beautiful house. As well as being handsome, he was a superbly clever man, a veterinary surgeon. She didn’t tell me his name. She did tell me that, when she found out he was dying, she phoned him. He lived in Australia by then, with his new wife. And when she called, he told her he had always loved her. She didn’t tell him that she knew what love was now. She didn’t tell him because he was dying. But I expect he understood.

So, he had left her. He had left her many times over, I think. But Eira doesn’t like to cause trouble and so it was only when he really left her that he left. He left with his girlfriend, who left her family behind too, to fly to the other side of the world with Eira’s handsome soldier.

Without Australia, there would not have been Gerald.

“Gerald was a wonderful man”. Eira showed me his black and white photo and I could see that he was a wonderful man. He looked clever and kind and all the things she said he was. “Not one for small talk, but a great listener”, which sounded perfect to me, because Eira loved small talk. Small talk about coffee shops, and lipstick colours and the best moisturisers for dry skin and how moving from Wilmslow to Didsbury wasn’t easy, it was traumatic and she doesn’t know why, because Didsbury is lovely, aside from being a pain to park in and just not Wilmslow, where she had lived for so long before.

Small big talk.

Gerald was German. His parents were wealthy Berliners when the War broke out and they fled the country, as so many Jews were forced to. They ended up in Nairobi, living in a mud hut. Gerald was twelve and had left with just his teddy bear under his arm. She told me the story of how they left and why and then she sat in silence and looked at me and I looked at her and we just let it all settle there between us for a minute.

We talked a lot about Gerald. “One day you will meet a man like him”, Eira told me, “keep your heart open”. I will be lucky.

The problem with Eira, according to Eira, is that she feels too much. “I worry too much what other people think’, she said. And I knew exactly what she meant. Sometimes feeling double of everything in this world is just too much for anyone.

I tried to tell Eira about my life too, she wanted to know about my family and what I did and why I lived where I lived and did I know that, if I was to ever marry, I was to make sure my name was on the deeds of the house. I told her I knew.

I told her it didn’t matter if people saw her using her walking support. That she should use it outside of the corridor in her apartment block, that it wasn’t a weakness, that it showed her taking control of the pain she felt in her back. That, with it, she would walk taller, and that was more important. And her eyes lit up and I think we understood each other then, too.

Eira told me that she loved good people. That I was a good person, and she pushed her dusky pink (to match her scarf and nails) notebook toward me to write down my telephone number. “When you come to visit me I will prove to you I am related to Sigmund Freud”, and I couldn’t resist that, so I wrote down my number and promised to see her again.

“I won’t let you go”, she said, as the train pulled into her stop and she reached over the table to grab my hand. And I didn’t disagree, I don’t like to cause trouble.

 

Don’t look back.

There are things that I wish I had told you,
I couldn’t be arsed at the time.
You didn’t deserve to know them.
You had taken enough.
They were mine.
But maybe I couldn’t admit then,
These things were such hell in my head.
And if I had said
just one thing out loud,
That made it true.
And I’d rather be dead.
There are things that you should have told me,
Why you didn’t I guess I’ll never know.
Maybe because you’re a coward.
Or you preferred to keep up with
The Show.
So, now here are things I will tell you,
And Pay Attention
Because here come The Facts
Not really something you’re used to,
So I don’t expect you to react.
1. Life is better without you
2. You wasted my time with your shit
3. I don’t think that you ever loved me
4. That still hurts, just the tiniest bit
5. I don’t know why I couldn’t be me then
6. I’m not sure if I ever knew you
7. I’ll never let anyone hurt me
8. No second chances, or being untrue
9. From now on I live my life my way
10. I won’t let anyone tell me I’m wrong
11. I’ll believe in myself so much more now
12. I guess I learnt that from you all along
13. Now I’m glad for the bad things that happened
14. They proved that I’m stronger than you
15. I’m excited to make my own future
16. I’m happy
17. I hope you are too.

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Overthinking

When I am sad, I think about you.
And when I am happy, I think about you too.
And when I have nothing else to think about
or I should think about other things
I find myself thinking about you.
Then sometimes,
when I don’t think about you,
and I think about me instead,
I will wonder if I’m still thinking about you.
Then there are some times
when I wish I could think about you
but I can’t think of anything to think about,
so I think about something else.
And that’s almost as good.
Almost.

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Helvellyn. Britain’s best walk.

For my Grandad.

If you ever jumped into the back of a cab
and the driver was charming, with the gift of the gab.
If he was the smartest dressed driver that you’ve ever had,
you jumped in a cab with my Grandad.
His Italian was fluent from his time in the war,
we’d listen to his stories, though we’d heard them before.
From travelling the world, to taking dance bands on tour,
now I just wish I could listen some more.
He’d wrap us up warm to go out in the cold,
and make our friends laugh at the jokes that he told.
Chase our bikes through the park, though he was too old,
he’d buy us ice cream, give a hand we could hold.
I know he’ll be there when I walk down the aisle,
Like he’s always been there since I was a child.
Cigars, whisky, snooker and snoozing a while.

But what I’ll remember most is his smile.

Write.

So you want to write?
make sense of this place
create your own space
share the things
that only you’ve seen
use the words
that don’t just mean
everyday things
you said you would make it
you’d create it
alright
you said
you know what you want
so write

Wow.

Turns out I’m bigger than I thought I was.
In fact, I’m fucking massive.
And I know I’m really fucking big because
people talk.
And people only talk about big things.
Like things that change the world.
Like the entirety of the universe.
Like the fact that it’s so fucking infinite you could think about it every day of your life and you still would never have thought enough not even enough to cover this one small space on my computer screen let alone grasp how meaningless it all becomes when you contemplate that
one
single
star
light
years
away
god
you’re pathetic.
But you can be massive too.
Just think.
If one single star is so important,
so far away
and we still think about it.
About how incredible it is, how incredible for being so far.
And you’re right here.
Isn’t that just
wow.

The Shadow

On reflection, it was a person.
A reflection to stretch in to
A connection.
That crawls up walls
Grows tall then falls.
Too evident to ever be seen.
On reflection, it was important.
A protection against
A projection.
That holds hands in light
Disappears at night.
Where is it going and where has it been.
On reflection, it was
Just a reflection.
A misconception.
A constant rejection.
On reflection, it could not have been me.

The Squirrel

So, I’m watching this squirrel
And he shouldn’t be here
He knows it
I know it
But he’ll still persevere.
He’s dreaming of trees
Leaves and branches and such
Of squirrels like him
He’s dreaming of nuts.
He didn’t think there’d be concrete
Didn’t plan for these streets
He never imagined
They would make him complete.
Now I can’t help but watch him
And I know he sees me.
I wonder if he wonders
If I miss the trees.

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Mam Tor in the snow. The first and last route of the year, as a reminder of how far I have travelled.

Stranger.

Stranger than
You
Or him
Stranger than
The things I said
I did
I thought
That’s the strangest thing
anyone has ever.
But you aren’t stranger
You aren’t a stranger
You can’t be a stranger
To me.

Time.

Sometimes you have to stop to go.
Take time to take time

apart

to know.
Because the time you spend
taking a few steps back
to breathe
to stop
to see the cracks
will give you time on things that matter
and show you how to do things better.

And then you won’t be scared
When time stands still.
Because it’s the only time
you’ve got until
it’s time to go and time speeds up
and you’ve just got time you wish you’d stopped.

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“Keswick is a market town in northwest England’s Lake District National Park, surrounded by mountains like Skiddaw.”