International Writers Magazine: Life Stories
Ekland and Me
Im in a
remote Scottish village, tucked away on a west coast island in the
1970s. There is Gaelic folk music playing downstairs in a local
bar awash with conviviality and intimacy. The horse brasses hanging
on the walls and the copperware on the shelves about the place sparkle
with light from the flames of the fire, which burns in the hearth.
The singing and music drift through the midnight air and into the
room above where I am staying. Im from the mainland and the
people here are islanders. Im from another world, yearning
to be part of theirs: a place from a bygone age from years
ago and days of old.
The smell of locally
brewed ale and the tinge of salty sea air; rustling trees and waves
crashing in the harbour; howling gales and the power of one; this is
unprocessed, this is raw; this is as remote as remote can be in the
British Isles. In the 1970s, the world is void of mass cynicism and
instant gratification, of needless complexity and lingering apathy.
It is simpler and timeless; more alluring and less disenchanted; more
mysterious and less precise.
A young woman begins to sing along to the music below in the room next
to mine. She is an islander. She is celestial; she is mysterious. She
is enchanted. She beats her hands against the wall, in rythme to the
music below. She dances alone. She dances naked. She drips with indefinable
sensual charisma. She is Aphrodites daughter, a goddess of love,
beauty and youthful rapture. She is supreme.
She sings to me and only me. She is inviting me. She sings along, almost
in a whisper, to the lilting melodies from below
Who is there, no one but me my dear
Say how do?
The things Ill give to you
A stroke as gentle as a feather
I'll catch a rainbow from the
sky and tie the ends together
I am here
I not young and fair... Please come
Say how do?
Ill show to you
Would you have a wond'rous sight?
midday sun at midnight...
I recognise those lyrics from the 18th century Scottish poet Rabbie
Burns. She has put them to music. This whole room, building, village
and island seem a world apart from the place in time that I inhabit.
It reeks of ancient Britain itself, with its rural traditions, words
and music, harvest time rituals and poetry. The place is covered with
shades of pagan symbolism and mysticism and flows in tune to the rythme
of the seasons, to the beat of one.
She sings gently. The drum gets louder. Her beating grows wilder. The
music becomes frenzied as my heart pounds faster. I wait.
I wait too long. Then
nothing! She's gone. The music stops. The
waves become still and the trees fall silent. I no longer
hear her voice. I drift into frustration, emptiness
And night fades to day.
The next morning: regret, yearning, loss. Just before I leave, I meet
her on the stairs.
She says with casual nonchalance but with a hint of anguish in
her voice, You never came last night. I invited you.
She was never to invite me again. She never came my way again.
I always looked for her; I never found her. I still remember that night.
I still remember her.
(Inspired from a scene from one of the greatest films made:
The Wicker Man, 1973. A very British film!)
Todhunter March 2008
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