A Black Man At The Golden Fleece

Try sayingthis in your most affected English accent. “I am residing at The Golden Fleeceof Thirsk”.   It’s where I am staying tonight in the Northof England near The North York Moors 300 miles from home.  The Black Bull, The Black lion and The BlackSmith are just three of the pubs in the market square. And  now there’s a black guy in the Golden Fleece.   “may I have a front facing room” I politelyask the receptionist.  I love a frontfacing room that looks out on the hustle and the bustle rather than a back roomthat looks out on another back room or car park. The receptionist blinks,flusters and turns to her computer screen to check for available rooms  then disappears into the office behind thereception area. There must be so many rooms here?  I imagine the office as a place where shecanoodles with the night watchman or gorges on chocolate hob nob biscuits.  “I’m sorry” she returns “but you’re here fortwo nights and though there is a front room it isn’t available for two nights”. I am actually not stayingfor the second night for I must return yonder to Londonium,, I say.  She blinks turns and disappears to the backroom again.  “the only room we’ve got atthe front  is The Four Poster Room andthat is an upgrade and will cost you an extra fifty pounds good sire”.  I don’t know how or why I started with thisold English speak in this blog but Gadzooks I like it.

In thebooking form of my administrative assistant   it says“No B and Bs (bed and breakfast) , no pub accommodation, no hotels with‘travel’ or ‘Inn’ or ‘lodge’ in thetitle”.  So how did I end up here.Actually I feel kind of on top of the world so it’s all okay and this place isok and I’m okay

My room isnext to The Dick Turpin Room. Dick Turpin was a highwayman;  with   gun,  black mask and shiny black stallion, he’dcharge from the forest into the pathway of a horse drawn carriage on its wayfrom or to the next city.  As hisstallion raised on hind legs with gun in hand he would shout  “stand and Deliver” and then relieve theoften fattened, jewellery ladened lord or lady of his or her rings clothes andsafe box.  If I had the guts I’d’ve saidthe same to the receptionist. “stand and deliver”.

The sky frommy rooms window is the colour of slate and lead.  The Golden Fleece, built in the 1800 s  has been an Innsince Tudor Times. It’s listed as one of the oldest coaching Inns in England and hasserved weary travellers for nearly four hundred years.  It was a stop over for the horse drawncoaches on the journey from Edinburgh to London.  I’ve tethered my stallion in the stables atthe back and ordered a hearty meal which after galloping through the silver rain from London is much appreciated.  

In thedining room above the fireplace on a wooden beam is the Golden head of a ram. Thereis something Harry Potter about all this. The restaurant is recommended in theMichelin Guide and the atmosphere is warm and cosy. With the darkening skiesoutside and the cosyness inside, with the light flitting from the crystal onthe set table  it feels almost likeChristmas.  I eat with four  people who are the organisers of tomorrows event and who are also young people whospent a lot of time in care. Tomorrow is Celebration Day for young people fromCare. They  have trauma  circling their lives; Trauma  like the death eaters surroundingHogwarts.  Harry Potter himself is a   foster child whose parents died.  In the wilds of NorthYorkshire, in the Carlton Lodge Outdoor Activity Centre tomorrowthere’ll be hundreds of young wizards.

I thinkthis while stood outside The Golden Fleece for a cigarette, how much magic ittakes to survive the  terrifying sustainedpain throughout childhood.   Daylight gives way as night time gentlyarrives.  The fish and chip shop in thesquare is doing  brisk business and it’sfluorescent sign grows more prominent. Friday is a fish day for many a family,a treat for the kids, a particularly English tradition.  I’m okay. You’re okay. 

As I lie inmy hotel room I can hear the singing of a group of guys in their drunken haze.They’re imagining  their favouritefootball teams, their friendship and the seemingly everlasting night. Therestuttered song echoes around the square as they  fade away “walk on walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk aloneyouuuuu’lll never waaaaalllllk….alooone” . And the rain begins to fall throughnight on The Golden Fleece of Thirsk.

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