Hector is almost fully grown so I suppose it is time to ‘let go’, so to speak. I thought I had let Joe go when he went to his first Glastonbury, aged sixteen, but I didn’t manage an entirely clean break. I was very jealous – because I had run away from boarding school to attend the first ever Glastonbury myself – and I kept ringing him on his mobile asking irritating questions like “have you seen Leonard Cohen yet?” (“Duh! Who?”)
Seven years on, Joe is taller, hairier, a graduate, and, it has to be said, he has lost the golden peachy bloom of his youth. He likes Leonard Cohen now. And after Glastonbury this year, he not only thought it appropriate to discuss with me, in academic detail, “the illegal substance choices of my generation” but he also thanked me for washing his sleeping bag AND he volunteered to take Hector for a walk.
But do I trust him with Hector? Not quite. I fussed. “Now. Take some bikkies in case you need to bribe him to come, and use the poo bags, it is anti-social not to, and don’t let him off the lead near the road or let him pull because I am still training him and…” I even texted him anxiously two hours later to say, “usually feed H at 4.30 so don’t be too late back”.
My fears were well-founded because Joe is obviously not completely grown up yet. Firstly, when I called him, he thought it was a hoot to tell me that Hector had run off the edge of the cliff. Then, when Hector presumably began to cramp his style on the beach, he called me; “Mu-um. Can you come and pick Hector up? My friends have just arrived and…” Yes? Hector is requiring you to put him before yourself? And now, when I am in the middle of preparing dinner, you want me to negotiate the inch-wide lanes to Eype, in my unwieldy Romahome, at a time when everybody else is coming the other way? How about, “put your feet up, Mother, and I’ll bring you a takeaway”.
But how grown up am I? My own generation wanted to die before we got old and now we are refusing to grow old before we die. And that is why, I suppose, I am rattling around the country in a campervan still hoping that something really exciting is going to happen to me, and with all the same longings that I felt as a teenage girl walking towards a row of ‘yobbos’ sitting on a wall.
Four days after the end of Glastonbury festival, Hector and I were, coincidentally, in Glastonbury town itself. Glastonbury has not grown up at all. Every single shop is still called something like ‘The Magyk Cauldron of Light’. And when my circus clown friend Robert and I walked Hector up The Tor, we met a musician called Dragon, a purveyor of Celtic Space Folk, who gave us a Breton tune on his mandolin and told us, with ecstatic optimism, about an imminent shift in consciousness in The Universe. Not before time, I’d say.
Anyway, we were going to a gig. The very word ‘gig’ echoes down the years since 1968 in my Father’s Lady Bracknell tones, repeating, “going to a ‘gig’?”, as if I had invented the word. And now I rather empathise with his bewilderment.
Robert’s son’s reggae band were playing in a pub. The music was so monotonous that I soon found myself in the back yard where I was offered a joint by a raddled woman of my own age called Hawthorne. When I wove back into the black hole of the back room, I sat down next to a bearded young man, with the white naked torso of a shop mannequin tucked under one arm, who asked me if I knew anyone whose demons were getting the better of them. “Yes,” I said. “Me. What on earth am I doing here?”
On reflection, I realise that the honest answer to my own question is that somewhere below conscious intent I actually imagined I might Meet Someone. Honestly! Grow up, Gill!
As for Hector, he is growing up at seven times the annual rate that I am. He is already slowing down and showing signs of a more mature attitude to the sound of the doorbell, the sight of moving sheep and the temptations of cow-shit. I must admit that part of me wants him to be an old dog who doesn’t need so much exercise, who is, perhaps, even a little crippled, happy to lie on the sofa being couch-potatoey with me.
The morning after the gig in Glastonbury we went to a caff for breakfast. (We’d had a rough night in the Avalon Campsite which is owned by a bitter and officious blonde who used to run a fairground and who locked the main gate at 10.45pm, giving me, fortuitously, an excuse to leave the pub before the end). And I was delighted to notice that the menu offered The Executive Breakfast: ‘Coffee, fag and an aspirin. £15. You exec types can afford it’. As the retro-hippie in the queue before me said as he was handed his own breakfast (an enormous slice of retro-Victoria Sponge), “Hey! Legenderry!”
But reader, I chose the healthy option. Then, before we left for home, in my capacity as a responsible dog owner, I put Hector before my profound distaste for climbing hills and took him for another run up The Tor. We chased around and around the summit like Ian McMerlin whipping up a vortex for a spell. Now, how grown up was that?