This is an ordinary sort of day and I suppose my mind is at peace – or in neutral – which is why I find it difficult to decide what to write about. Do I write about Castro ? Putting aside everything else, if you leave behind you a state provided with clean water, electricity, healthcare and education, you must be held to have done some good. Do I write about the abused footballers ? What chiefly struck me was the man who said that he was glad his parents were dead, that they didn’t have to know but that yes, he had put up with it because at nine, he knew what he wanted. Really ? Anything to get a football trial ? Are parents so entirely hooked into the Beautiful Game that they would not want to hear of the pain and humiliation to which their child was exposed for such a opportunity ?
Do I write about the ancient cities in Syria like Aleppo, genuinely open to various kinds of belief, now blown up and shot down, pulverised into rubble through continued bombardment ? Where nobody is safe, the water is contaminated, the electricity doesn’t work and even hospitals aren’t spared.
Do I write about the honeysuckle blooming (just a sprig), as are two chrysanthemums and a salvia – flowers in the garden at the end of November ? It’s supposed to be cold tonight and I hope they survive. You can’t very well put scarves on shrubs.
There is a sort of pause when there isn’t a big news story and you’re torn between thinking it’s a quiet day and wondering what is going on that you are not being told. In the lull after the mad expenditure of Black Friday, you see people clutching two or three packages and you can tell by their tired eyes, they are gathering themselves for the shopping assault of Christmas.
I like to send and receive Christmas cards so mine are sitting in the Christmas box together with names and addresses and cards from last year, people I specially want to remember because the address isn’t in the obvious place. My present Christmas box is only a pale imitation of the one at home which contained everything remotely to do with Christmas, from which my mother annually produced – almost magically -something new. (She had an honours degree in parental sleight of hand).
This is a count your blessings sort of a day. I have a friend whose mother is due to have lumpectomy next week and another whose very elderly mother is in the next stage of decline, which means everything has frozen half way between what was and what might be. I am glad I am neither of them and I wait to see what I can do, other than make encouraging noises.
There is currently one of those wonderful pauses you learn to appreciate in busy cities, when for some inexplicable reason, all traffic including aircraft stop for a few seconds simultaneously. In that silence you can hear – or fancy you can – the earth settle, the leaves breathe – Andrew Sullivan wrote about it very well in the Sunday Times Magazine 27.11.2016. Most people only hear silence in contrast to noise. Many of us take silence for granted and fill it but it is one of the great pleasures of my older life. And no I never learned to meditate, though I did learn to stop.
Into this silence comes a squirrel to sit on the wall which means I belt through the house to shut the backdoor. I once had one in the house five days and I was an older woman when it retired, leaving considerable muck and mess behind it.
I’ll go up the road in a minute to the dry cleaner and the post office, through the golden leaves and the cold wind, thanking my stars for the makers of custom furniture who through the good offices of Wal the decorator have given me three bags of oak offcuts which means the fire is assured as night comes down. As I said, a count your blessings kind of day, entire of itself.