Advent (5)

She said no again. Perhaps hers is a door that I should no longer knock upon. I don’t know. Such is the life of the self-employed, every job is mostly chased, sought after, few are dropped into one’s lap. Maybe I am too pushy, too proactive. I’m not good at sitting back and waiting to see what comes. Ah well. Maybe next year.

Advent begins on Sunday. The first day. I think about the advent service at Bath Abbey. I only went one year but it had a profound effect upon me. But not exactly joyful. At least not at the beginning. I remember weeping. Weeping in the dark. For at the start of the service all the lights are out. It’s the darkness of the eve of the coming, I suppose. Then, one by one the candles are lit. The candles we were all holding. Row after row slowly beginning to come alight, alive, that gorgeous flickering white light of hope, of new life, new beginnings. Did I cry then? Or was it in the dark before? I can’t remember now. I do remember feeling alone. All those families, lovers, friends, and I was flanked by them. People were kind but no one saw my sadness. And then the opening of those huge wooden doors and there was the tree outside, lit for the first time.

Is it still the same now that E has gone? They thought him a puritan, he didn’t like the frippery of Christmas. I’m with him on that (except, that is, my inexplicable penchant for snow globes).

So many notable people died yesterday, Clive James (finally, he said at breakfast, he’s been threatening us with his death for years now), Jonathon Miller and Gary Rhodes. He was so young, 59. Why? He thought it was probably his heart. What a devastation to his family. Rest in peace all three of you. And thank you.

I thought about my grandfather as I walked this morning. The Norwegians are very sensible in denoting exactly which side of the family the grandparent belongs to calling them father-mother or mother-father. Why was he so different from his brother? So stern, so austere. Was it his father’s suicide? So little talked about. I suppose they didn’t then. Nor now.

By Ellen Bell

Artist and writer currently living in Aberystwyth.