December 19th, 2018
Late one Tuesday or Wednesday evening in October 1989, a twelve-year-old I got out from the back from the horseless carriage of my teammates father, having been chauffeured from my football team training session in Stanstead Mountfitchet.
My next memory is noticing that my father’s car was missing from the drive-way, I proceeded down the driveway that led to a car-port, that contained a workbench, bicycles and various valuables. If you don’t know what a car-port is, it is a roofed garage without the ‘front’ door. The main entrance to the house was situated there on the side of the house rather than at the front. Unusually, the front door was wide open, I entered the house and the living room was empty, the television was off, the kitchen was also empty and the lights were off. Before I was able to go upstairs to assess the situation, the lady from next door entered the house with a very concerned look on her face, she explained to me that my parents at my granddad’s house, that something had happened.
The next thing I remember was being in bed, and my two younger brothers were fast asleep in the bedroom next door to mine. And with the covers covering my face I lay still, unable to imagine what was going on. The upstairs and downstairs telephones then started ringing in tandem and I rushed into my father and mothers bedroom, picked up the receiver and my father was on the line.
I cannot remember the words he spoke, but he told me that my granddad had been found dead, it sounded as he was laughing, and I convinced myself that he was joking, I am sure I either asked him as to why he was laughing, or for him to stop joking about. I don’t know, nothing was making sense at the time.
I went back to bed to hide and stare at dark air, and eventually my dad opened my bedroom door and let in some light, once again I cannot remember what was said, but he was not joking or laughing. It was the very first time that I saw tears stream from my fathers eyes.
I cried and slept.
The next morning I could have stayed at home I guess, but I got ready for school determined to be strong. At the beginning of tutorial the realisation of my grandfathers death hit me hard, I started sobbing and a kind classmate asked me what was wrong, I tried to get out the words, but my sobs and sniffles were inadequate masks for the pain I felt inside, a mental and an emotional pain I can safely say could be comparable to a thousand broken wrists. The stifled sobs and murmurs, turned into full blown wails and cries… I wasn’t strong enough to go to school that day after all
I will never forget how wonderfully comforting my form tutor was, a friendly young Christian with an earring and a heart of gold.
I missed him a lot when he eventually left his post at the boys’ school the next year. He decided to become part of an important mission in Africa I think. He was, and hopefully still is a very good teacher, Christian and a brilliant man.
Back to Micah Clarke by Arthur Conan Doyle:
‘But that I may help you to understand the character of your great-grandfather, I shall give an incident which shows how fervent and real were the emotions which prompted the violent moods which I have described. I was about twelve at the time, my brothers Hosea and Ephraim were respectively nine and eleven. I was about twelve at the time, my brothers Hosea and Ephraim were respectively nine and seven, while little Ruth could scarce have been more than four. It chanced that a few days before a wandering preacher of the independents had put up at our house, and his religious ministrations had left my father moody and excitable. One night I had gone to bed as usual, and was sound asleep with my two brothers beside me, when we were roused and ordered to come downstairs. Huddling on our clothes we followed him into the kitchen, where my mother was sitting pale and scared with Ruth upon her knee.
‘Gather round me, my children,’ he said, in a deep reverent voice, ‘that we may all appear before the throne together. The kingdom of the Lord is at hand-oh, be ye ready to receive Him! This very night, my loved ones, ye shall see Him in His splendour, with angels and archangels in their might and their glory. At the third hour shall He come-that very third hour which is now drawing upon us.’
‘Dear Joe,’ said my mother, in soothing tones, ‘thou art scaring thyself and the children to no avail. If the Son of Man be indeed coming, what matters it whether we be abed or afoot?’
‘Peace, woman,’ he answered sternly; ‘has He not said that He will come like a thief in the night, and that it is for us to await Him? Join with me, then, in prayerful outpourings that we may he found as those in bridal array. Let us offer up thanks that He has graciously vouchsafed to warn us through the words of His servant. Oh, great Lord, look down upon this small flock and lead it to the sheep fold! Mix not the little wheat with the great world of chaff. Oh, merciful Father! look graciously upon my wife, and forgive her the sin of Erastianism, she being but a woman and little fitted to cast off the bonds of antichrist wherein she was born. And these too, my little ones, Micah and Hosea, Ephraim and Ruth, all named after Thy faithful servants of old, oh let them stand upon Thy right hand this night!’
Thus he prayed on in the vehemence of his supplication, while we, poor trembling mites, huddled round our mother’s skirts and gazed with terror at the contorted figure seen by the dim light of the simple oil lamp. On a sudden the clang of the new church clock told that the hour had come. My father sprang from the floor, and rushing to the casement, stared up with wild expectant eyes at the starry heavens. Whether he conjured up some vision in his excited brain, or whether the rush of feeling on finding that his expectations were in vain, was too much for him, it is certain that he threw his long arms upwards, uttered a hoarse scream, and tumbled backwards with foaming lips and twitching limbs upon the ground. For an hour or more my poor mother and I did what we could to soothe him, while the children whimpered in a corner, until at last he staggered slowly to his feet, and in brief broken words ordered us to our rooms. From that time I have never heard him allude to the matter, nor did he ever give us any reason why he should so confidently have expected the second coming upon that particular night. I have learned since, however, that the preacher who visited us was what was called in those days a fifth-monarchy man, and that this particular sect was very liable to these premonitions. I have no doubt that something which he had said had put the thought into my father’s head, and that the fiery nature of the man had done the rest.’