Tuesday, 20 April 2010


It is a singular period. The time when he can climb the Bourbon Tower's spiral staircase and step across the top of the brick wall as if there are still floorboards. Oblivious to the drop, save for the times an image from a film flashes into his head. For a moment he is in Kidnapped, the actor playing the character, camera mounted above, the well of the tower even deeper than this one, rocks falling as he treads.

It wasn't always like this, even though from the moment he realised that boys could climb out onto the tower's roof, he was fascinated, head spinning with an excitement that could never match the truth. For months, maybe even a year, the feeling and its imagery existed like ideals--magical perfected expectations.

Before he found the courage to cross, he trod the steps up to the wall several times, more than once going part-way down again before returning, willing himself to try. He took a step, then another, then was paralysed, cold, sweating, legs trembling, his mind filled with his own stupidity, his pointlessness, the certainty that he both didn't want to die and wanted to reach the other side.

Just a year after leaving Stowe he returned to the tower and crossed again for the last time. It was a cold day but sunny. The tower seemed smaller, his feet bigger. Stepping across took more courage than expected but was no big deal. Falling, for that goal, didn't seem worth it. He never crossed again.

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