Cold Broken Walls and Piles 1970
I remember this tale very keenly and astutely like it only happened yesterday…
48 years ago this month, when l was a mere 7 years of age l was in the north of England on a holiday with my parents and Sister. We were in the interim period of still living in Malaysia, and not far off moving to Australia. My Father had finished his tour with the R.A.A.F and was being stationed in good ol’ Oz again. So it was decided that the family would take a three month vacation to do some visiting with family and so on before returning to Australia.
Now you may recall from the story “Our Little Secret!” 1969 that the previous year my Mother had introduced to me her knowledge of my unusual gift of being able to see things that a lot of other people simply cannot, and for the record most people can if they 1] want to and 2] believe they can.
I can’t remember where we were exactly, but l know it was part of Hadrian’s Wall, and there were broken walls and ruins of block strewn everywhere on the ground.
My Father was and for that matter still is very interested like l am in ancient history. back then, l was more hyperfocused on the likes of castles and forts, as prior to that living in Malayisia and Australia l had not been awarded the chance to see any oddly enough. So whilst these particular ruins were to me just a bunch of rocks to my Father they were a lot more. However, one rock is pretty much the same as another rock and one ruin after twenty ruins is still a ruin, and furthermore one cold broken wall is still however you look at , a cold broken wall!
As a child, l was fascinated with a lot of things, but even for me, having trekked lord knows how many different sights that day in torrential rains, l had to concede to being bored and not simply but seriously bored out of my mind!
My Father was taking photographs like they were going out of fashion or these ancient ruins were going to disappear which in some respects they have in certain locations which is sad by itself. So, completely bored l sat on a wall and just looked out at what l thought was a simple green field …..
…. within perhaps a minute or so, l heard a lot of noise, l looked around me and l could still see my parents and my Sister walking amongst the broken walls and blocks and thought nothing of it, something must have carried on the wind, but as the landscape around me was pretty barren and apart from green fields and rolling hills with a few scattered trees l couldn’t begin to imagine where the noise actually came from and so dismissed it.
I was pretty miserable sitting there admittedly, my little coat was only just keeping me dry … just, and l was longing to be somewhere much warmer and hotter instead in this country of my birth that in essence was the first time l had been back since leaving in 1965, l wouldn’t be back properly until 1977.
But as l sat there looking out across the rain swept fields, once again l heard a noise, like a horn, a loud horn and accompanying that was a sound similiar to drums and then came the chants. When l looked around again, l couldn’t see my parents or my Sister, all l could see were funny people dressed in funny clothes and shouting at each other in a language that was not of my own. I was sat on a wall in the middle of a battle, before me l saw people falling down with horrendous wounds, limbs hacked off, heads lopped, spears embedded into bodies, fields of blood, the noise of battle, smoke and acridity in the air that made me choke, and my eyes water.
The battle raged around me, through me and over me. I could feel the distinct heat of men dying, l could see people on horses and chariots armed with an assortment of horrifying weapons, loud chants, funny painted faces, shields, blood, so much blood. it was the blood that got to me … and in the distance l could hear my Mother’s voice shouting so very loudly my name “Rory!! Wake up!!”
When l awoke l looked up to find the faces of my parents and my Sister looking quite horrified down upon me. My Mother was shrieking about a strange cut in my leg, that my Father said must have happened when l fell off the wall. Never mind the fact that it wasn’t a scrape or bruise, but if anything resembled like a knife cut, like l had been stabbed, it was unexplainable.
The sat me back on the wall, and told me that they were coming back to me because they heard me screaming and shouting at the empty field, and then l looked upwards and screamed and toppled off the wall into the field and became unconscious and was out cold for about three minutes.
I sat and looked at my Mother, and asked her if she knew?
Her expression changed, and as she sat down on the wall beside me whilst my Father wrapped a hanky around my cut, she asked if l had seen anything and l nodded yes and told her in a whisper so as not to anger my Father what l had seen, for her to respond with a simple nod, and the words of “It’s begun for you, it has unlocked.” It was all she said.
My Father having finished knotting the hanky, asked what we were discussing and my Mother simply said “I was telling Rory not to sit on cold walls as they will give him piles!”
That night after driving back to the hotel and a local nurse looking at my injury, who was confused as it looked like l had been stabbed with a sharp pointy blade, l sat in the big drawing room and looked at a large fire place they had which had an enormous fire in it. The landlord said that for the time of year it was exceedingly cold, rather unsual and that is why the fire has been lit.
I drifted back to those moments alone in battle, to the point when l had heard my Mother’s voice yelling my name, and came to realise that during the time l had been unconscious, l had actually been struck by a spear and it caused me to fall off and l lay on the field amongst the dying, l saw a man with a blue painted face look down at me and he simply said ……. “Chì mi a-rithist thu!” which l believe means “I will see you again.”
I never told my Mother that, l pretty much thought she knew something by the looks she kept on awarding me for the rest of our vacation. I did experience smaller episodes and they frightened me so much, that for many of the remaining ‘touristy’ visits to ruins, l stayed in the car and feigned illness or being asleep.
I have seen that man many, many times over the years since then, and even now, l can hear him within my head, l know him as Maniatou and he is my guide.
You can make of that as you will ….