Dear Readers, you might remember how much I’m enjoying Ronald Blythe’s book ‘Next to Nature’, and last night I read something that I thought I’d share with you all. To set the scene, Blythe is riding home from Bury St Edmunds in a minicab.
‘.…an extraordinary confession from the Polish taxi-driver on the last phase home. Glancing at me, summing up whether I could take it, young, and, I thought, rather sad, he asked if I was ‘religious’. Adding that he could tell that I was ‘a gentleman’. What next?
Swerving past some cyclists, summoning up his courage, he said that he had seen an angel. Did I believe him? I told him about a great English poet called Blake, who saw angels in Golden Square in London. He told me that he was married and had a little girl. I praised his English. He was, I thought, about twenty-two and rather lost. Or maybe found. He was certainly an adventurous driver. There are times when one must be an adventurous listener.
William Blake wrote:
‘And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love’. ‘
This reminded me of a taxi ride that I took in Cork, in Ireland. The conversation turned, as it does, to children. The driver wasn’t to know that I had recently had a miscarriage, and so I quickly turned the subject to his little ones, and asked how many he had.
He hesitated for a second.
‘Four’, he said. ‘Three boys and a girl. The girl only lived for a few hours, but I can’t deny her’.
‘She lived, and was loved’, I said, swallowing hard. ‘No need to pretend she didn’t happen’.
And so we drove on, fellow travellers in the truest sense, through the impossible green of the Irish countryside.