A Black Man At The Golden Fleece

Try saying
this in your most affected English accent. “I am residing at The Golden Fleece
of Thirsk”.   It’s where I am staying tonight in the North
of England near The North York Moors 300 miles from home.  The Black Bull, The Black lion and The Black
Smith are just three of the pubs in the market square. And  now there’s a black guy in the Golden Fleece.   “may I have a front facing room” I politely
ask the receptionist.  I love a front
facing room that looks out on the hustle and the bustle rather than a back room
that looks out on another back room or car park. The receptionist blinks,
flusters and turns to her computer screen to check for available rooms  then disappears into the office behind the
reception area. There must be so many rooms here?  I imagine the office as a place where she
canoodles with the night watchman or gorges on chocolate hob nob biscuits.  “I’m sorry” she returns “but you’re here for
two nights and though there is a front room it isn’t available for two nights”. I am actually not staying
for the second night for I must return yonder to Londonium,, I say.  She blinks turns and disappears to the back
room again.  “the only room we’ve got at
the front  is The Four Poster Room and
that is an upgrade and will cost you an extra fifty pounds good sire”.  I don’t know how or why I started with this
old English speak in this blog but Gadzooks I like it.

In the
booking form of my administrative assistant   it says
“No B and Bs (bed and breakfast) , no pub accommodation, no hotels with
‘travel’ or ‘Inn’ or ‘lodge’ in the
title”.  So how did I end up here.
Actually I feel kind of on top of the world so it’s all okay and this place is
ok and I’m okay

My room is
next to The Dick Turpin Room. Dick Turpin was a highwayman;  with   gun,  black mask and shiny black stallion, he’d
charge from the forest into the pathway of a horse drawn carriage on its way
from or to the next city.  As his
stallion raised on hind legs with gun in hand he would shout  “stand and Deliver” and then relieve the
often fattened, jewellery ladened lord or lady of his or her rings clothes and
safe box.  If I had the guts I’d’ve said
the same to the receptionist. “stand and deliver”.

The sky from
my rooms window is the colour of slate and lead.  The Golden Fleece, built in the 1800 s  has been an Inn
since Tudor Times. It’s listed as one of the oldest coaching Inns in England and has
served weary travellers for nearly four hundred years.  It was a stop over for the horse drawn
coaches on the journey from Edinburgh to London.  I’ve tethered my stallion in the stables at
the back and ordered a hearty meal which after galloping through the silver rain
 from London is much appreciated.  

In the
dining room above the fireplace on a wooden beam is the Golden head of a ram. There
is something Harry Potter about all this. The restaurant is recommended in the
Michelin Guide and the atmosphere is warm and cosy. With the darkening skies
outside and the cosyness inside, with the light flitting from the crystal on
the set table  it feels almost like
Christmas.  I eat with four  people who 
are the organisers of tomorrows event and who are also young people who
spent a lot of time in care. Tomorrow is Celebration Day for young people from
Care. They  have trauma  circling their lives; Trauma  like the death eaters surrounding
Hogwarts.  Harry Potter himself is a   foster child whose parents died.  In the wilds of North
Yorkshire, in the Carlton Lodge Outdoor Activity Centre tomorrow
there’ll be hundreds of young wizards.

I think
this while stood outside The Golden Fleece for a cigarette, how much magic it
takes to survive the  terrifying sustained
pain throughout childhood.   Daylight gives way as night time gently
arrives.  The fish and chip shop in the
square is doing  brisk business and it’s
fluorescent sign grows more prominent. Friday is a fish day for many a family,
a treat for the kids, a particularly English tradition.  I’m okay. You’re okay. 

As I lie in
my hotel room I can hear the singing of a group of guys in their drunken haze.
They’re imagining  their favourite
football teams, their friendship and the seemingly everlasting night. There
stuttered song echoes around the square as they  fade away 
“walk on walk on with hope in your heart and you’ll never walk alone
youuuuu’lll never waaaaalllllk….alooone” . And the rain begins to fall through
night on The Golden Fleece of Thirsk.

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