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Swift & Associates

n a dream I found myself in London in an area undetermined by name

I had met a Greek family who spoke no English lost in a bus station near Victoria

As my Greek was poor and they did not have a second language I lodged them in a hotel and sought out one of my Greek friends in an effort to redress their situation

But the bus dropped me not at my destination but in a street high on a hill that I did not recognise

To my left there was a row of shops and to my right a short passage that led to a steep set of steps that commanded great views over London

As I considered myself lost I decided to use these steps as apart from the shops the street where I had found myself was mainly residential

 My descent was mundane but I did notice that a group of people were gathered over a dead bird which had flown into a street light during the night

At first these people were strangers to me but as I drew closer I noted that they were all employees of Swift & Associates my fathers company

It is so sad when a nightingale dies

 

The streets are poorer for its death  

 

Its sweet songs will no longer be heard

 

I picked up the dead bird and wrapped it in my scarf and promised to dispose of it with a thoughtful appreciation of it’s voice

My father’s employees then faded and I was alone with the exception of a street urchin

When the snows arrive there is no better place for sledging not even Hampstead Heath

 

These steps are God’s gift

 

They are God’s gift

 

It was then that I remembered where I was as in childhood I had sledged down these very steps

I touched a small scar on my forehead which was a reminder of those far off days

My father broke my line of thought as he appeared suddenly in front of me

What brings you to this part of the city Samuel

 

I explained about the Greek family and how they had become stranded at the bus station

He looked at me and smiled

When you were a child you always picked up creatures in distress and nursed them back to health

 

But I fear that the young nightingale that you are holding is even beyond your help

 

A few minutes later after giving the urchin sixpence my kind father walked me to his office which was about five minutes distant

To my surprise I found the Greek family in the foyer

They were engaged in conversation with my older brother who spoke Greek fluently

The youngest of the Greek children a girl of about six stroked the head of the dead nightingale and appeared to say a prayer

May I introduce the family of Mr Saint our Athens agent who are visiting us here in London

 

Quite why you lodged them in a hotel is a mystery as I gave express instructions for their reception and journey to this office

 

And why do you always end up carrying dead nightingales with you when you arrive here

 

Our small garden is full of their lyrical remains