Every other week, on a Friday after work, I drive to Oxford to collect my son.
This evening, the entire ninety minute journey was accompanied by a rainbow.
This was the first sight of it that I photographed.
Today, it seemed more vivid than those before. The eastward route I took along the M4 followed the edge of a weather front, so that I was plunging always into the edge of a curtain of rain, the glory of a late afternoon sun at my back. Often, from my viewpoint, it seemed as if I was encased in a prismatic sphere. The rainbow met the land, then arched upwards amongst the spray from the road to form a complete circle.
It seemed to laser down onto cars in front at times.
I am about to finish working as a teacher. I have ambitions as a writer, but this is not the only reason I’m leaving the profession. I am no longer able to find sufficient time and energy to meet the demands of the job; in terms of the job specification, I am a failure. Unlike many jobs, there is a long notice period in education. This has meant that despite periods of stress, despondency and ineffectiveness, I have been teaching for almost five months since deciding to leave.
In uncertain financial times, it’s clearly unwise to quit a full time permanent job.
But is it any wiser to continue in the knowledge that your job is making you unhappy?
I wondered what a black and white rainbow would look like.
This road, the A420, is a road I have driven at least 416 times in the last 4 years. I know it intimately.
My children and I know exactly which fields deer graze at twilight, where rabbit kits venture onto verges in summer, which paddock we once saw a black rabbit in. We also know at which roundabout we saw a car on its roof, at what junction I shunted a car, and in which lay-by my son did his first ever standing up roadside piss.
Many separated parents do the Friday/Sunday night commutes and must have their own maps ingrained, their own preferred radio station for company, their own pit-stop of choice. There was a period when the staff in the McDonalds near Watchfield used to greet us with genuine affection. I grew to recognise fellow dads doing the run. I don’t mind the journey so much, it barely even registers. But at this point of change, in this moment of what I hope will be evolution, I am hoping to build a life out of the elements that draw me in different directions.
These ash trees will have flanked the road here for over a century. This part of the 420 is directly opposite White Horse hill.
J and I once stayed up all night constructing a box kite to fly on the hill. We listened to the Four Tet discography, drank wine and learned the constrictor knot, the bowline hitch. We launched our red and blue wonder to the skies, the winds drove it straight back down onto the hill and shattered it. It was a moment of loss and both of us, for just a moment, did not know how to move on.
That same afternoon, my son raided the pile of spare chalk near the back legs of the giant horse, and made his own.
I finished a screenplay before Christmas which I am redrafting for the Slamdance film festival. It’s a modern retelling of the golem myth. Before I leave school, I have been teaching my students about screenwriting, trying to enthuse them with its immediacy and potential as a career. They have downloaded the free version of Celtx, and are already creating some credible scenes.
A few weeks back, I collected a dead hare from the side of this meandering stretch of the 420 and took it home. I wanted to feel the weight of it, the sensation of running a hand across its fur. I wanted just to inhabit the same space as this solitary animal. So I did.
Then I photographed it,
and buried it in the garden.
When I passed the place where I’d found it today, I was gladdened to see two hares grazing the field close by.
Which is to say that I feel hopeful.
Like everyone and everything, I have an unknown future. I am not afraid.