25 March 2015

A strange light

Last week, on Friday, there was an eclipse. I didn't know one was coming and had not prepared — instead I had made my way to the barber to have my hair cut and think about some things. Dez, my barber, charges £6.50, but I always pay him at least £8 because I enjoy talking to him so much. Dez was not there when I arrived at 9, but the lights were on and I knew he would be close, so I stood outside in my shorts, thinking I would go running afterwards. Dez came around the corner eventually, holding a coffee and a newspaper and excitedly talking about the eclipse. Where had I been: how did I not know about it.

I remembered, as we stood outside, trying not to look directly at the sun, a moment in my childhood when there had been an eclipse. A full one, in Texas. I remembered that we had been sold these visors like sunglasses that allowed us to look at it, but being told again and again, 'Don't look directly at the sun.' As a child I was curious, but also terrified, both of god and my parents, so I didn't look up at it as I was told. 

With Dez, however, he implored me to look at it — 'Look at it! But just a second, like this' and he held up his hand to cover and uncover the sun briefly. I looked at it briefly as well, but felt guilty suddenly, like I had done something wrong.

Dez cut my hair and chatted on and on: this is how religion started, someone had to explain this. Look! There are two magpies outside, have you ever seen magpies in this area, even the birds know.

I had my glasses off and let Dez clip away, happily, as we talked about the sun and longboats and caravans, the things Dez and I discuss. He told me about the caravan park where his caravan is, just into Wales, where it's beautiful. He worked steadily and finished, handing me my glasses. That'll do, of course, here have £8, and Dez said, Oh are you sure: bless you, have a chocolate. 

We went outside again: Dez had said it would be pitch black, but it wasn't. It was just a strange light, like a lampshade put on. I ran home, wondering how the people in the past had seen that, before religion and god. Was it an omen or portent. What did you do when it went back to normal and never happened again: how could you explain it to others, would they believe you. One day the light went strange. I don't know what it means.