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Dean Whitbread 2013

Dean Whitbread 2020

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Written on April 24, 2007, and categorized as Secret and Invisible.
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I have had no sense of home outside my place in the city for 23 years. I tried to leave a couple of months ago, even put the deposit down on the next new place, but one thing and another prevented it. So, I’m still here, and now planning to move out permanently later this year. In three months, the barrier is lifted, and I can go… anywhere, within reason. I have worked and waited a long time for this freedom. I’ve been assuming that I’ll stay near to London and the south east, but maybe I will go west.

I’ve visited Glastonbury, not the great festival which is actually held several miles away in Pilton, but Glastonbury the small Somerset town, at which I first arrived as a driven, regularly inspired, but frequently demented adult in 1987. There I learned to fall apart without dying, to let parts of my recalcitrant ego slip away like a shroud into the waters on the Isle of Death.

Gastonbury rises up from the immense flatness of the Somerset levels, drained almost one thousand years ago by the Benedictines, those mighty agricultural pioneers, who in doing so made themselves one of the richest Abbeys in Europe. Now the town, population around 10,000, is a Mecca for all things spiritual. It seems to attract the extremes, the fanatics, the romantics and the damaged, all searching for fulfilment, peace, healing, release, and some of them even find it in the green Chalice Well garden, or in the whirling, drumming Sufi dances, the tolerance of the ashrams, the meditations upon Gaia, the prayers to a God of their own imagining.

I stayed for months over a period of several years in this sometimes sleepy sometimes manic place, and befriended a bunch of souls who played a big part in rescuing me for the rest of humanity. This time, feeling more at home than I do at home, I realised that something is continuing to pull me westwards. It could be Ralph Bending, the (real) estate agent who advertises his properties with surreal profanity; it could be Charley Barley with his stream of consciousness hilarity and profundity; or it could be the thirteen wells which permeate this water-driven landscape and create a lush, wick place, where you can almost believe the myth that a walking staff plunged into the earth will sprout leaves and grow roots.

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This thing has 3 Comments

  1. dave bones
    Posted 24 April, 2007 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I know what you mean. I reckon the west country is the only other place in the UK I’d live.

  2. La Sirena
    Posted 24 April, 2007 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    OK — I’ve read various versions of the Arthurian and Glastonbury is a magical place in my brain. Thank you for the pictures.

    Maybe you should move west, you sound excited and at ease with the prospect.

  3. deborahlewis
    Posted 25 April, 2007 at 2:24 pm | Permalink


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