Beren and Luthien

by Varda

I am, as my long-suffering friends know, moving house (although my purchaser has reneged on the closing date so I have a reprieve from moving out till next week)

Anyway, the epic job of clearing my house is nearing an end. One task was to sort my art materials.

Now I have not drawn or painted for years, except for the odd sketch. But I had whole drawing books of stuff, awful rubbish. I put most in the recycling paper bin.

Then I found a really old sketch book. I knew it was old not just because the cover was yellowing with age but because it was made by The Educational Company Of Ireland.

Once, every copy and school book in Ireland was printed by this press. Their big, black Roman capital letters rang the death knell for summer when you had to go back to school in September. I went to throw it out, then thought I better look inside first and flipped it open.

On the front page was an ink drawing coloured with water colour pens. It was Beren and Luthien, with a silmaril.
'Oh, that's quite good..' I thought 'but who did it? It can't be mine, it's too good.....'

I studied the picture. Beren sat under a great tree that looked a bit like Old Man Willow in the Lord of The Rings. Beside him an Elven maiden sat staring at the silmaril, an angry red diamond on the ground. Her hand hovered over it, as if wanting to touch it but knowing she better not. She wore a circlet of leaves on her long golden hair.

I looked hard at the picture. Yes, that was how I drew faces. But I did not draw these faces. Or did I..? And when?

I was still at school, or just going to college. The Lord of The Rings was my private world, more real to me in many ways than the actual world. It was also my secret world, as Tolkien was not that popular then, and admitting you liked him got you ridiculed. So the picture had, if not talent, utter conviction. These were the most beautiful, brave beings ever, and that was how I drew them, with absolute belief and approval.

I sat in the bare, stripped room where I had found the drawing; was that person, so absorbed in what she loved, so able to create an image of it, was that really me? What happened to that person?

Everyone, when they leave a house, especially the childhood home, find something that turns back the clock. But for me it was more, a door into the magic Tolkien wove for me then, and never really ceased to, even if it got buried under jobs and worries and illness.

I put the sketch, still in The Educational Company of Ireland's sketch book, carefully into a draughtsman's case. I kept a photocopy out, to act as a talisman for my move, to bring something with me of my old life, when I was happy. Tolkien and his works have been a constant in my life, and the picture was a tangible sign of that, a promise I could enjoy all this still, wherever I make my new home.