As I write this early in the evening I can hear the lovely sound of children playing outside in the street. Here in Northern England the winter ended at the weekend and spring is suddenly with us. One more spring.
And today I gave myself the gift of a spring afternoon. Finding a work meeting unexpectedly postponed, did I rearrange things and do some other work? As if. Conscious of this ‘year to live’ attitude I’m walking around with at the moment, I put on my walking boots and prepare to leave the house. ‘Where are you going?’ says Sarah. ‘Wherever my feet take me’ I reply.
So I’m walking along, looking mostly for these tiny things I’m showing you, When I turn the corner into The Park’s long avenue. And spring takes my breath away.
All of life and all of the year is precious to me, of course it is. I spend as much of my time as I can outside, walking and running around my places. But this. Every year it surprises me. Every year I’ve half forgotten the splendour and the energy of it. And every year I’m moved, almost beyond words to see and feel and smell and touch it happening again.
During the noise and excitement of its Lighting up and Housewarming at the weekend, this was what I was most looking forward to. Coming in here on an ordinary day. Not a high day or a holy day, but a day when people would be going about their business, a day to see and feel the new building coming to life.
There are theatre conversations going on in here. People phoning friends to see if they’re nearly here. Staff working out the till systems. And me. Drinking tea and reading.
These are the times I treasure. Suddenly given back the time from what I was going to be doing and given a gift I would dream about giving myself if I had only a year left to live. To walk through the parks on a spring afternoon and then spend a peaceful hour reading in the new Everyman. Paradise couldn’t offer more.
After an hour in here it’s still a sunny afternoon. So I go for another sit and another read, back in Abercromby Square. Where I finish the book I’ve been reading on this special day, and for most of my life.
I picked up this copy in a second hand shop a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve had others. It’s the first of the many she would write about William and is of course completely out of time now. A world where there are still servants, a thoroughly white world, thoroughly ‘incorrect’ and absolutely hilarious. It’s been making me laugh for 50 years and is outstandingly well written and observed. William’s fierce Aunt has come to stay:
‘She was a stout, healthy lady, who spent all her time recovering from a slight illness she had had two years ago.’
He soon sees her off. And has no time for other family niceties either:
And so the sunny Tuesday afternoon draws to a close in Abercromby Square.
Find the rest of these posts by searching on ‘A year to live’ in the Search box above right.
People who picked up on my Polycythaemia diagnosis from the previous ‘Year to live’ post – and thanks for all your kindness and good wishes – might be nearly as pleased as I am to know that my bone marrow biopsy and ultrasound scan have revealed nothing of concern.