Andrew Miller (2022) The Slowworm’s Song.
Posted by celticman on Sun, 24 Jul 2022
The Slowworm’s Song begins with ‘Start,’ and ends with ‘Start’, and in between there is a ‘Stop’. I guess that’s true of most of life, although there might be a lot of hanging about in between.
Ex-soldier Stephen Rose lives in Somerset, which is home of sorts. It was where he was brought up by his father. Quakers don’t join the army, but Stephen went against the grain of his father’s pacifist beliefs and that decision defined his adult life. He was a boy in Belfast in 1982. He shot and killed another boy in Belfast in 1982. He had a rifle. The other boy was carrying an asthma inhaler. And he’s not sure how it happened. But he is sure it did happen. Drink helped him to forget and to remember. He’s writing a letter to his daughter Maggie to try and explain why he’s such a mess.
‘I’ve had the letter over a week now and I look at it every day. Sometimes I look at it several times a day. I have shown it to no one. No one other than myself and other people that have sent it know it exists.’
The return address is Belfast. The Saville Enquiry is not a court of law. He won’t be prosecuted. Not like those soldiers involved in shootings such as ‘Bloody Sunday’. But Stephen has always been good at prosecuting himself. His alcoholism took him to the brink. He stepped back, was helped by others, found love and then lost it. There’s always another brink. He’s not sure he’s going to make it. Read on.