Sunday, 22 November 2009

The Papershed boys and other tales

We spent two days down at Bystock last week, I've never hung round there longer than a few hours and it was great to get to know my brother's home better. It's a massive house, Victorian I think, and kind of like a very chilled, comfortable boarding school. They've got loads of chickens and three alpacas, the craft centre sometimes sell bits and pieces, and Bystock eggs have good yellow yolks. The second unit cameraman, Lee, bought his girlfriend a kitschy cat door stopper for £4.

Tom works in the paper shed - when he feels like it, he does like a loaf, as do I, it's why I work for myself -  where they make animal bedding, very popular with horses, out of old newspapers.

We arrived and went to find him pulling plastic and cds out of newspaper supplements, he was busy at work and pretty proud for us to see him with his work gang, "The papershed boys" he calls them. Tom loves a good gang. Instead of going back to the house for a proper lunch, just like Ma makes, Tom prefers to make himself sandwiches and eat with the lorry drivers and manual work bosses in a drafty room off the end of the wood work shop. Tom has always preferred the company of 'normal' people.

I went and joined him over lunch - he gave Will a sandwich, but not me, but I ate his crisps to teach him a lesson he'll never forget. He forces the blokes to have one of Tom's beloved 'meetings' during their lunch hour, raising issues such as the lorry being a mess and needing a new van. He writes the minutes in his binary code style alphabet, 10001100011000. My Granny wrote like this in the days before she died. Nothing evokes the simple workings of the machine of the mind like the binary form.

Watching this I felt this all-too-familiar surge of protectiveness which I haven't felt for a while, I guess because mostly I have seen Tom around family, in private spaces, where everyone is a known and trusted commodity. It's a weird form of protectiveness because it comes in a none too comfortable guise. It goes like this: I don't want Tom to impose on people and bore them, because, not really that I care about the people, but I care about how people think about Tom, I hate the thought of people not liking or wanting him there. When things like this happen my whole head becomes eyes scanning the reactions of people in the room, I am prickly sensitive to any crabby vibrations.

However, I doubt Tom notices, even if people do feel this sometimes, which I really hope they don't, because if you breathe, calm down and open your heart, every level of human intelligence has a place in the world, and a place in your world. I was round at someone's house the other night, and admittedly I was a bit drunk, but the owner of the house really, really, didn't want me there. I was the last to know, when my mates told me, as we left. So, ignorance is bliss...

Anyway, I divert. Everyone at Bystock is lovely and I doubt the lunch box crowd are actually thinking bad things. The managers of Bystock choose all their staff, from top to bottom, on the strength of their capacity for care, patience and kindness.

Won't bang on. More later.

No comments: