Yesterday was spent partly in York and then on to Newcastle. Three separate events in one day, three hour-long talks to different groups of children about climate change. And my dragons were welcomed, well-received and the message they bear was well and truly delivered.
The rest is up to each and every small person, every teacher, every parent and every single individual who has heard what I had to say. And none of it is exactly stuff that we, the adults, didn't know already, but perhaps something of the passion and the urgency I have brought to this whole project might rub off on some of the people who have heard me talk.
The working day started at nine in the morning and finished at eight at night. After which, Emma and I headed for the bar of our exceptionally comfortable hotel and toasted ourselves for having put in a stonkingly good day at the coalface. We had supper and then, eyes barely able to focus due to sleep-deprivation exacerbated by a fire alarm going off in the wee small hours of the night before in the hotel we stayed in the night before in York. Well, that wasn't exactly the most elegant sentence I've ever cobbled together, but I'm sure you know what I mean. You get the picture. We're into the home stretch of the tour, as of now heading back down the country to Cheltenham to take part in the Lit-Fest. Anyhoo - last night, after drinks and dinner, I collapsed on my vast hotel bed, sank back into the pillows and phoned home. The news was good, but let me feeling a very odd mix of emotions. To explain-
my beloved Eldest child has been struggling with heroin addiction for years - how many years we're not entirely sure, and in this case, the numbers are not important. Suffice to say, this has been a very difficult thing for all of us to get our heads around. Crikey, Gliori - mistress of the understatement, or what? I'm trying to keep this light, so bear with me. Don't think for one second that I feel lighthearted about all of this, but there is nothing to gain by wallowing. You'll have to trust me on this one. My child has been in the Dark Woods ( his words) for so long he can probably hardly remember what the sunny uplands feel like. In terms of years spent on this planet, he's old enough to have a house, a job, a wife, children and a receding hairline. In reality, his life stopped when he put it on hold in his early twenties by embarking on this descent into hell. Watching this happen to a beloved child is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. In truth, when members of your family embark on this journey, they take a part of you with them.
The news from home is that next week he's going to start to claw his way back out of the darkness. He'll do some horrible and necessary weeks of de-tox and then he'll be gone, far, far away to do at least one full year of re-hab. I have no idea who he will be when that year is over. It's not like the Federal Witness Protection Programme in the good old you-ess-of-ay, but there are similiarities. It's unlikely that he'll ever be able to return to the city of his birth, and it's possible that he may never want to re-engage with his family. He has to break ties with the past in case they are the ties that bound him in cycles of self-destructive behaviour. Only he can decide in the years to come, which, if any, of the threads from the past he will pick up and weave back into his new life.
And I have to watch from the shore as his boat heads out into the fog, without any clear idea of where he's headed, whether he will return, or if I will recognize the man that steps back onshore. I am so very proud of him for deciding to take this step into the unknown, and I applaud his courage.
But right now, on a train to Cheltenham, I wish my dog was by my side, because right now, I could really do with an uncomplicated creature to wrap my arms around and have a good cry on.