#428 theoldmortuary ponders.

When I was a child our annual holiday was always taken in Devon. Getting there, or here as it is now for me,involved setting off from Essex in the dead of night in order to be at Glastonbury by sunrise. We did this every year without fail. Not to mark a solstice but simply to experience the stones at dawn. We were nearly always the only people there. Our car the only one in a chalky stoned car park with minimal fencing not too far from the site itself. We had foil-wrapped bacon sandwiches which emerged from a towel filled cardboard box, in my memory they are vaguely warm with the bread damp from softened butter. We sat on a blanket with our backs against the chosen stone and my dad made tea with a primus stove surrounded by whatever new contraption he had invented to make the process more slick. We ate our sandwiches, drank our tea, watched the dawn, packed up and went on our way. Dawn was at about 5:45, we were usually at our destination of choice, in Devon,by about eight in the morning and would park the car somewhere, usually by the sea, and sleep until lunchtime when the holiday properly began. This all seems mildly eccentric with hindsight. Although this was the sixties my parents displayed no other outward appearances or attitudes of being in any way New Age. The last time we did this my dad had filled the Primus Stove with fertiliser instead of fuel. There was no tea that year and never again was the strange holiday ritual enacted. The Primus Stove did not survive the fertiliser incident and with the loss of this one item, the spell, whatever it was, was broken. No photographs have survived of these events. I suspect there weren’t any, there were only ever three people in our little family and a photograph could only ever have shown two.

I drive past Stonehenge many times a year and am never tempted to stop. Now the ancient monument is protected from human touch for most of the year. Commercialised and controlled in the name of heritage preservation. I feel the urge to be with those stones but not in any way that is possible now. A mass experience would not be the same at all, but perhaps I could tolerate it with a warm bacon sandwich in my pocket.

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