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I am a great believer in personal mythology, legends of the lands that form us, in our heads and around us.

I was born in the small town of Devizes. The name means 'Division,' the boundary between the bishop's land and that of the king/baron/lord, but I prefer a more numinous translation. There was an old church, St Johns, and an untouched 15th century alleyway full of cobweb families with pedigrees far longer than mine. They spun when Devizes castle was frequented by Stephen and Matilda, and they've woven long since the battlements became the haunt of black hooded monks, fetches from local imagination.

I was whisked away to the sunshine of Singapore as soon after my birth as they could get me on a plane, and returned to Devizes some 7/8 years later, having sojourned first in Glasgow, with its warm friendly people and a wonderful school. I so wanted us to live there. Folk were not so pleasant in Devizes, and it was dull too, despite local tales of St John and the devil duking it out. Having neither celestial swords nor infernal pitchforks to hand, they turned to more rural resource and chucked dirt at each other. The devil threw a mound of earth at St Johns, and where it fell, that worthy built his church. Where St John threw his clod of earth at the Devil, it bounced off Lucifer's hide, landed, and became Silbury Hill, right alongside those other spookeries, Avebury stone ring and West Kennet Long Barrow.

Do not think I liked the place so much when I first wandered it. For sure, our puppy loved running up and down the grass banks, but at sunset the red light lay very certain on the stones, and the cows clustered together and stared at me. I had no doubt that bad things happened here long long ago.

There was a sweet shop, and an old man ran it. I only ever went in once, with my little brother, to buy some sweets, and the old man lured me behind the counter and tried something inappropriate. I grabbed my bro and we ran. When I found my parents, they instantly knew something was wrong and questioned me. I burst into tears and told them. It remains clear in my memory, the only time my parents acted in perfect accord; my father's face, going red and white in patches, very silent, my mother asking the questions coolly, her face expressionless. At the end, my father got up and went away.

'Where's Daddy going?' I asked her.

'He has some business to attend to,' she said, without blinking an eye, and then told me that I had done just the right thing and if ever any similar thing happened,I was to tell them just as I had done. I told her I was afraid of the old man.

'Don't be. You will never see him again,' she replied, again with that cool certainty.

The next time we returned (it would never occur to my father not to return, he was too fond of the Red Lion Inn for such delicacy) the shop was boarded up. My mother was right, I never saw the old man again.

Long after this, I had a dream about Silbury Hill, so close by. In my dream three boys chased me across the fields from Devizes, and I saw the strange mound loom up in front of me, a door in its side. The boys barked like dogs. I went into the hill. There I saw a strange shadow, dark with huge horns. The door was closing on the boys. 'You are safe in the land(s) of the dead,' said the giant shadow. It then repeated, 'You are safe in the land(s) of the dead,' as the door shut and I was with it in the darkness.

A long time ago.

In the year 2000, I climbed to the top of Silbury Hill on Walpurgis Night/May Eve. 3.30 in the morning, I did that fairy thing, lost time and space, and what I saw will have to stay unsaid for now. That was the year of the Hale-Bopp comet, a faint and fuzzy light somewhere near the pleiades. A curious mist had covered the fields, one line of trees marching entwise to elsewhere. A hole appeared in the hill that summer and a hole appeared in my heart too, relationships collapsing, caving in. I recall it suddenly because I dreamt of roleplaying games last night, people wanting me to reprise an old character. Some patterns are dead, we leave them behind. Some friendships too. But respect for the bones can't hurt.

April 30th 2012, Avebury with a friend; meals at the now much friendlier Red Lion, the village welcoming us with birdsong; following the Kennet river while it chuckles along the banks, and fields of yellow bloom scenting the air. No cows now, lambs everywhere. Climbing Silbury Hill, together we hear pretty pipes below us. I expect a happy band of May crusties to join us, friend checks and swears that there's no-one there. Certainly from the top, no-one is approaching or leaving or sitting on the slopes. We seem alone.

When we leave the hill, we cross a little bridge close by, Pan bridge, it's called. I can't believe I never noticed it before. At West Kennet Long Barrow, my friend smiles and says, 'Here's your door to the hill!'

This place is part of my story. I don't expect it to unravel in this telling. I write it on the 2nd of May, Mother's Day in Spain, and here, the birthday of my attacker. It feels good to write like this.

The story continues.



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