We had such a terrible argument last night, in the heat of which I forgot to tell you that I have been asked by the organisers of the Haniwa mission to rename myself. It didn’t take me too long to agree, as you know I’ve never been happy with the name my parents gave me. I’ve always thought that ‘Terry’ sounds too much like an insurance or used car salesman from Essex!
So here it is... from now on I shall be called Columbus II. I’ve chosen it in homage to Christopher Columbus, arguably one of the world’s greatest explorers. Perhaps subconsciously I hope to match his achievements, as a member of this voyage to the Haniwa mission.
Even more important is to try to explain the reason for my behaviour. I know that you must be feeling very angry with me, and my darling, you have every reason to be so.
We had such a great meal at Luigi’s, our favourite restaurant, but let’s face it, both of us were thinking the unthinkable, that it might be our last meal together! Such a terrible thought was so uppermost in my mind, that when we got home everything around us seemed to disintegrate.
It was not your fault. I blame myself and the amount of whisky I drank. After one glass, a second then a third then a fourth, all flowing into another. I must have drunk more than two bottles straight off! Suddenly what had started as a wonderful evening, fell completely apart. I felt myself dropping into such a dark and lonely place, wrapping me in absolute depression. I was at rock bottom, I couldn’t think of you and what I’ve been putting you through, nor could I think of myself in any sort of rational way.
All the excitement and sheer exhilaration of being accepted for the mission seemed to evaporate into thin air. Since receiving the acceptance letter, my emotions have become so erratic, veering from one thing to another! One minute I’m positive; the next, almost to the point of rejecting this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
For God’s sake, Sophie, have I made a mistake? Am I losing my mind? Perhaps I should see a doctor; I’m having a breakdown I’m sure..
There I go again, just by looking at what I’ve just written, the pendulum has swung right back. It’s always the same old mood swings.
This voyage is what I’ve dreamed of doing for as long as I can remember. I’m doing it for us, for our children, and our children’s children. So I’m not going to give up, end of rant! God knows I’ve got so much to do, before I’m ready to report for the induction meeting on board Haniwa, in just ten days.
I’ve arranged a meeting with our family solicitor, to put my affairs in order. I know it sounds dramatic, but it must be done. If anything happens to me, we must both be sure that you and the children will be provided for. How can I say that, with so much uncertainty in the world? That’s my old rational self talking. I just hope that when I finally get to Haniwa and the new world, I will be able to make contact with you.
After I’ve seen the solicitor I have to go to the police station. Apparently I need some sort of certificate that I have no criminal record. If I had, I would be barred from making the journey.
I’ve also got to prepare a list of things I want to take with me. Books are the first things I think of. I’ve decided to take Thomas Hardy’s ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’. His tale of simple village life, close to nature, in the mid-18th century, particularly his description of the Mellstock Choir, has always given me a connection with my roots in the rural West of England. I’ll also take the family bible, that is, if you don’t mind. No. No, I’m not planning on becoming a born-again Christian, but I feel sure the Bible will give me a source of moral compass. I’m sure it will be necessary.
Of course, I’ll take a selection of family photos. Especially the one of our wedding, and those of our children.
Sophie: as I write I’m getting emotional again. Pull yourself together, I can hear you saying!
I’ll also need a change of clothes, though we’ve already been told that some form of protective space suits will be issued on arrival at the Haniwa. I’ll not bother with anything else.
When I leave for the departure point in ten days time, I’ll take a taxi from here (are they still running?) to the station. Perhaps you’ll come with me that far, I hope so! Neither of us like goodbyes, so we’ll go into that garden behind the station. It will give me a last lingering look at a typical English garden. Let’s promise each other there’ll be no emotion. Try to remember that scene from ‘Brief Encounter’, one of our favourite films.
Then I’ll catch the train to Manchester airport. The organisers will pick me up and take me to the port of embarcation. I’ll write from there...