I had two dreams this week about my father, who died twenty years ago next month. I saw him last on his seventieth birthday, 22 August, 1990. In the first one I was in the grounds of one of my old schools, Greytown primary, watching while a morbid young man in warlock black inspected the buildings and the playing area – which were increasingly derelict, with weeds growing through the asphalt and rubbish around the exposed classroom piles. I went around to the front to the office to tell my father about the report. I had first to go to reception and speak to the woman there. Powerful memories of being a small child before an adult behind a big desk surfaced. My father came and we talked for a bit on the steps outside. It was him in his Headmaster days, though he was never principal of a primary school; I was as I am now. It was wonderful to see him again but our conversation didn’t last long. In professional mode, he got into a white vehicle that looked like a cross between a golf trolley and the Popemobile and drove off to survey the damage. In the second we were in the midst of an opulent celebration, Christmas perhaps, or a wedding. Dad, an old man now, decrepit and a bit worse for wear from drink, cigarettes etc. had been given a table to himself outside. One of those uncomfortable wrought iron pieces with matching chair painted white, rocking on the concrete just past the glass doors to the room where the rest of us were. My sisters and I served him all the courses of the meal at once, from the entrée to the dessert, along with a glass of the appropriate alcoholic accompaniment for each dish. I remember a profiterole with its smooth round chocolate dome cloven by a silver teaspoon. This was a melancholy dream because it seemed we were going to leave him there to feast, or more likely drink, alone. Somehow these dreams have become connected in my mind with a ride from Monday night’s shift. It took me down to the very end of Fig Tree Lane, which runs along the south-western boundary of Waverley cemetery. It was night, warm and dark, and the high sandstone blocks of the graveyard wall leaned forebodingly down over the narrow way. The mausoleums of the great dead loomed invisibly beyond like mansions of ruin. It was a No Through Way and there wasn’t anywhere to turn round either; while I was backing out the car veered several times, unaccountably, towards those now dank looking walls. As if dripping ancient gore. I thought I might be able to use the opening of a lighted garage about half way down to turn around; but when I passed and had a look there were two people within, a very tall man and a slender woman, possibly a girl, standing heads together over a cluttered table, completely absorbed in some task; which may have been the construction of another fairy entity to add to those with which the chaotic interior was already littered. I did not see how I could to disturb them in this and so backed carefully all the way out to St Thomas Street and went on my way.
pic : Angel at Waverley Cemetery by Lise Kool