My late father was a stickler for correct grammar and for consulting the dictionary, if in any doubt. Given all this, it was a source of fascination to me that he never used the phrase ‘somewhere else.’ Instead, he would say ‘some other where.’
Some other where has deep meanings for me (and I think I can see now why Dad used it.)
The time that some other where comes into play for me most is around sunset when it’s dark and I’m pushing out the boundaries in terms of not being home. You know that extra half an hour or three quarters of an hour when they’d be expecting you back and have just started to wonder if the car has conked out or if Puppy Stan has gone missing or … It’s not quite time to start trying to phone but they know that the phone is probably on Silent anyway!
Well, the some other where is invariably on a beach wave-gazing; or high up on the cliffs cloud-gazing. Some other where is a timeless place; a place of oneness with nature; a place where the air is salty. It’s also a place where you lose yourself; you move so far into reality that you are experiencing rather than rationalising. Some other where is intensely peaceful; it loves shapes, shadows and silhouettes and it can see right through darkness to a where that’s neither here not there, just beyond or in-between.
This is how my some other where has been looking in the last little while:
My days start with a quick walk around our block with puppy Stan. It takes us about twelve minutes but they are BIG minutes as we meet the day, see lots of familiar faces and pass The Bar’
‘The Bar’ isn’t a pub, just in case you were thinking along those lines! It’s just a set of railings on a corner.
But these are no ordinary railings to me. They were christened ‘The Bar’ by my late mother who loved nothing better than to say to an unsuspecting person: “Oh I’m just back from The Bar.”
The railings are a few yards down the road from the school that my sister and brother attended up to the time Father was transferred to the Midlands in 1963. Mother used to wait for them at ‘The Bar,’ with one eye on the school gate and the other on the view of the sea. The old stone wall on the right of the photograph is part of the school property.
‘The Bar’ marks my first proper view of the sea every day. That viewing tells me a huge amount about how my day is likely to pan out. I can see the state of the tide, the size of the waves, feel the direction of the wind, get a good sense of the ‘real’ temperature.
The building between the railings and the sea was the first school building that our son attended from 2000-2003, so he and I (and our King Charles, Sophie, used to walk passed ‘The Bar’ and cross the busy road hand in hand in lead each morning.
As I walk around the block, I can’t but think of cycles of life. It’s pretty amazing that I’ve ended up settling in Tramore just a sling stone from where my father and mother, from Co. Clare and Co. Meath respectively, happened to have their first home in 1948. I guess, though that I inhaled a lifelong craving for the ‘Tramore Air,’ in those first five and a bit years of my life.
‘The Bar’ always make me think, too, of these lines from T.S. Eliot’s, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock:
For I have known them all already, known them all— Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I can hear you asking what the connection could possibly be between ‘The Bar’ and these lines. It’s multi-layered but, at its simplest, relates to times when reaching/not reaching ‘The Bar’ was a measure of physical progress/decline.
My late parents’ final house (1986-2010) was a few hundred yards from ‘The Bar’ and I have vivid recall of how it was a huge goal of mine to be able to walk to it after badly breaking my leg in 1987. I remember the first day I got there and wondering how the hell I was ever going to get back again.
Similarly, ‘Going to The Bar’ was beyond highly symbolic for my mother in her latter years when her mobility was in decline.
As I walked around the block this morning, it hit me forcefully how very mundane structures like ‘The Bar’ can carry extraordinary significance for people. The idea that ‘The Bar’ could be one of my highlights of stunning Tramore may seem almost beyond belief but I know that even if the railings are taken down that I will always still see them at that corner on The Old Waterford Road. In addition, ‘The Bar’ has brought it home to me how much people perceive places through spectacles made of different times.
Have you got a mundane structure or place, like ‘The Bar’ which has a special significance in your life?
William Butler Yeats was born on June 13th, 1865 and I can’t let this day go by without honouring the man whose poetry is fundamentally knitted into my everyday life.
I have no idea if other people have a poet whose words, lines and poems are so deeply embedded that they automatically spring forth like as if predictive thought was somehow switched on.
I just have to glimpse the sun or the moon and it’s:
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
(from The Song of Wandering Aengus by W.B. Yeats)
October, which is my birth month, always, always, always evokes thoughts of The Wild Swans at Coole:
‘The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans….
When I’m waiting for a response to something that’s important to me, WB is invariably there whispering:
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
And he’s the one who knows everything about:
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you.
How often I look at loved ones who are frazzled, overwrought, over-working and know that Yeats’, like me, would bid them:
… take life easy, as the grass grows on the weirs
And, with mind-blowing interconnections and intertwinings emerging all the time, I tend to refer back to Yeats’ great final line of Among School Children:
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
So many great lines, comforting words, evocative poems and sheer resonance! W.B. Yeats, how glad I am that I live at a time when I’ve had the chance to bathe and soak in your tapestry of poetic genius.