I am of the type that on my trips away to Wales, or even going camping up the lake, restless lie awake, struggle with “Resfeber”..Never packing until it’s time to go, aim my dainties in a wad across the room into a bag. I get to the airport the day before my flight, to prevent jet-lag. Godfrey learned the word his second year of travel, wrote it in the old diary Beatrice sent me.
Resfeber, he wrote, sounds like a nasty rash or nettle hive. It is the thudding of my heart, when I awake alive, excited for my day, who taught me this wisdom of think and thought? “It was a summers morning, hitching on a country lane near Aldershot. Came along an old, black car, a Bentley, though posh, it was mud spattered and a tad rusty. A Chauffeur ground it to a halt, a window rolled open, a craggy, old woman peered at me, up and down. She wore large jewels, and a hat of thick fur, requested that I, a vagabond, get in the car with her.
“I was wind burnt, had burrs in my kilt, hair grubby and askew, my shirt was to. I had been to the lighthouse, on stormy Point Bladderwrack, swam out to the Inchcape Rock, and back. Thus tattered, I met her, The Dowager Von Binge- she pressed manicured hand to my young, bare knee, I told her that I disliked beets, hello, I am Godfrey. “I am following the pathways of the poems I enjoyed as a lad, from Batley, to Newbury Town, slowly, Australia bound”. “I have been to the lakes, felt city streets that must be “The Torrible Zones”, walked 100 acre woods, sat and ate Haggis high on a Roman wall, have found a poem written for them all”.
Her driver was a silent chap, Jerome, we turned up a long drive, to hot bath in her ancient manor home. Left in only a towel as my clothes dried, sat in a drawing room, lined with paintings of ladies and lords, long since died. “In marched The Dowager Von Binge with stately bearing, cheekily eyeing the towel I was wearing, Jerome stood stoic with tea on a tray, the cups were stained and chipped, but the tea was Earl Grey. “The cuffs of his uniform were thread bare, I could smell Herring cooking off somewhere”.
“I tried not to slurp- silence echoed, then The Dowager spoke- “Resfeber! Ah, the restless heart! Free of yoke and obligation, the tangled thrill of knowing, you are on a great adventure going. “in childhood, I had a donkey and trap , learned from her to take it slow, you do not hurry a donkey, where you go”. “I doubt we meandered more than five miles in a day, all rural lanes about, no horrifying motorway” “While donkey dozed beneath shade tree, I dreamed to, of poetry, and distant lands I’d see when grown, born to wealth, I did see it all in manner grand, but in secret, longed to roam as you do, pack on back and pen in hand’. “One day we met a man with goat cart, walking, at goat’s joy, even slower than Donkey and me, letting his goats set the pace, browse and crop, he said- “It matters not how slow you go, or where your journey leads, long as the Resfeber never stop”. “This is a wisdom I learned from the kindly, old Dowager Von Binge”.
“We dined on smoked herrings, spoke of whirled peas, paper roads, and kings, she did not ask me why I disliked beets, or other embarrassing things. Resfeber! “Spoke I of days when it was better to enjoy where you are, than to get far’ “I load my suitcase carefully, with lunch inside on top, one time tramping with a friend, she dropped a spoon”. “I said, excuse me miss, you dropped this, she turned to look at me- “it is your spoon in the mud, Godfrey” “We both bent to fetch it, knocked heads with a thud, my heavy suitcase pulled me over, and in the dirt we lay”. “A crowd gathered, the thoughtless clapped, wayward cutlery slowed me, but did not ruin what I now know was Resfeber, the joy of another fine day.
“This is why it took me two years, to get from Wales to Dover. Whether washing my socks in Loch-Ness, or mid city seeking urban Pentimento, I met people like The Dowager Von Binge, who reminded me to “see the sees, to smell the smell , to take it slow”.
This odd encounter makes sense, for Godfrey would talk to anyone, talk of anything but beets, he made friends so easily, I, however have found no record of The Dowager Von Binge, and he never spoke of her, or Jerome. They are as mysterious as the old journal that contained their story…