A Shoreham Light

dance

To say that the village was different from other villages would be stating the obvious. It was a magical little place where small miracles occurred each, and every day.

It was the village which chose you, and not the other way about. It was a place that you felt you’d discovered by accident, but you were probably heading towards it all your life.

It cared for the sick and the healthy, for the rich and the poor, for the sad and the happy. It treated them all in its own way, and never left them feeling the worse for it.

The day that they all met up by the Cross, might have felt like it was the first time, but it wasn’t. It had also happened a long time ago, when the world had been at war. That had been the time of night and day raids, of bombs being dropped, of souls breathing their last.

She had walked up the path to the farmhouse, expecting to see it slumber in the morning mist, but it had gone. The farmhouse that is. It was that kind of time. A time of loss and change. A time of bravery and determination.

She had grown up in Shoreham between the wars when there seemed to be plenty of sunshine and friendship to go around, but the world had grown dark since then and she had soon realized there was only two ways to go. Either you took the darkness to your heart and sank, or you switched a light on and exposed the darkness to a clean sun-filled world.

That day, the day the farmhouse disappeared was the day when she nearly breathed in the darkness and let it stay for good, but then anyone could have succumbed to that way of living. It was the easiest way to go. She was better than that.

Just before dusk, she climbed the hill to the Cross and sat looking out on her little world, a world that was everything to her. Needless to say the actual Cross didn’t exist in its current form back then, it had been covered over to stop the enemy using it as a guidance: a sign of Peace being used as a means of War.

As the dusk turned to nighttime, and against her better nature, she continued to sit and watch. She could hear them miles away, the bombers coming from an overseas land ready to drop destruction on London.

The searchlights speared the sky both in front of her and behind, and it wasn’t long after the first bombers passed over head that she heard the explosions in Bromley or Orpington (she couldn’t be sure which).

Instead of heading for cover, she stood-up and smiled and started a little dance, a small jig that made her feel better even if death was raining down from the skies.

Her father and her brothers had come looking for her, and it was her dad who found her first, dancing on the hill by the Cross.

So what did he do? Well, instead of dragging her to safety he decided to join her in the dance and the two of them jigged as the night sky blasted between white and darkness.

When her brothers found the two of them, they laughed and screamed and joined in the dance. Some of the villagers must have seen their shadows lit up by the lights and many of them walked that night to the Cross and joined in with the dancing. Within an hour there were several hundred of the folks dancing and laughing and knowing that being up there was the only place to be – with friends, with their village, with their world.

And that was why when the world grew dark again, when a year came to Shoreham that was not the best of years, a young boy went up to the Cross and started dancing, and little by little and one by one, more folks walked up to the hill and joined the boy.

And the people of Shoreham all joined arms, and danced and laughed and cried and knew that there was not another place they would rather be, than right here, right now.

Even although they knew a greater darkness was coming, as long as they were together, they could get through anything.

bobby stevenson 2017

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