I wish in future I can cherish each moment in the moment. In doing so I will be able to fully experience. I will not be living out of regret.
How often when something or someone seems so vibrant so strong they can be suddenly be gone. I can find it hard to believe that all is transient. Not to focus on the Loss but instead focus on all that I have experienced. To celebrate and enjoy.
What set this particular train of feeling and thought in motion, was that my local charity shop has had it's management change hands. And the manager was incredibly significant. He was in the tradition of British Eccentric. Wealthy and with that came an ease of behaving. He was I think a member of another wonderful tradition of artists. Incredible intense. Incredibly creative. And at times deliciously non PC! With a gift of story telling so that in every telling the story became more dramatic. I was never sure of what was 'the reality' which was rather liberating and refreshing!
In his shop all and everyone was welcome and included. I had the experience that it was a place where if people dared they could be what they wished. They could try on a role or costume. On one momentous day I met a Transsexual who literally spent the day trying on women's clothes asking advice from Stephan the Manager, me and Adam Ant who ran into the shop seeking refuge from his nightmares. On that same day I was helping out behind the counter as the young lady who usually helped out, took exception to Adam and walked out. Shortly after a woman came in and ended up getting a psychic reading from Hazel the resident witch; otherwise known as Elizabeth or Silver Fox. Due to having her dog stolen.
That day was like a Reclaiming 7 day WitchCamp intensive ~ compressed into 1 day. And it took me quite sometime to recover from such a high intensity of experience! For Stephan ~ well this was not quite his average day but I imagine not that extraordinary.
He created a community. On entering the shop he would introduce everyone to that person. And whatever name he chose was your name! Over the years the shop got fuller and fuller with more donations, more people and the walls covered with pictures, photos, poems and mementos. And the shop displays were wonderful. People's discarded 'junk' could be transformed into a rich diverse delicious display. It was a treasure trove. It was a place where he was the Grand Master the Warlock as he loved to declare. And the funny thing is, even though I had the sneaking suspicion he thought he wasn't. He was in fact a Mage! Because for me he did transform. He did create a space where so much more was possible. An Alchemist in your local shop. How subversive is that!
I have known him for over 10 years ~ during which he has moved from charity shop to charity shop within this vicinity. This last 5 years he spent at my local charity shop. He gave me so much. And he would say time and time again how much I gave him.
However he moved on without me having a chance to say goodbye or to find out where he is going next. And for me it was a shock. I knew something was up coos the shop had been closed 'for refurbishment' for ages. Today I had a free Saturday and went in. It had been stripped bare. With a rather nervy new manager behind the counter. With only 2 customers. And the walls a bland white with only a few items clearly priced. Not to be enjoyed and/or to be part of creating an experience of sharing and community. Just things to be sold on in an ordinary shop. A place of transience. Of things people have discarded. Not a place for the ordinary to be extraordinary.
For me the timing in which I saw this charity shop ~ now an empty space ~ comes at a time when I am experiencing the UK government speaking of 'Big Society'. While at the same time wanting to sell of forests and get rid of Public Libraries. Wanting to strip away so much richness, so much diversity, so much creativity. Was to say the least sad.
So this is a big thank you to Stephan which I imagine is one of many names. I wish you safe travels, happiness and peace. What you created is in my heart. And because your vision was shared, this can be re-created by many because you shared so much.