It’s always been a bit of a ‘thing’ with me that I don’t lock my front door in the daytime, that my home is open to anyone who wants to come in for a chat, a moan, a shout, a dance, whatever. My happiest times are when it’s party time, or when the group of Young Adults from church come for the evening, or when there’s music playing in the kitchen, and a conversation by the fireside and kids mucking about in the hall, and a teenager demonstrating how to do a somersault on the sofa. I probably won’t be able to hear any of it – in my ears it’s always chaos… and I love it!
I think it comes of growing up in a house where no one was welcome, where the marriage of my dad and stepmother was so passionate that it was exclusive. No room for anyone else. You would think that such passionate love would create warmth, wouldn’t you? It didn’t. It created a smug little, mean little, serene and impregnable castle, with the draw bridge always up. A perfect home arranged just as it suited them, every room pleasing to their eye, work tops uncluttered by life, table tops empty of work, colours muted, days ordered… two people devoted to each other and utterly selfish.
Probably reacting to that beginning, I’ve always wanted my home to be a place where anyone can enter and relax. You know? Relaaax. When I lived in Derby we had a mad woman (truly bonkers – truly) living opposite, and a chaotic woman just a few yards away across a patch of grass, and next door was a lovely man, a widower, with two great hulking sons and a garden full of motorcycle parts and old cars… and they all came in and out, and were part of our lives. George wasn’t quite so happy about the comings and goings but it’s important to me that friends know they’re always welcome, no appointment necessary. And yet, this year, for nearly four months my front door has had to be properly, solidly closed. So horrible.
Ancient Roman documents recorded special and significant events in red ink. Nowadays calendars do the same. In Bibles the words of Christ are often shown in red. Well, today is a sort of red letter day for me… look….. my kitchen is busy, I’m going to actually hoover later on today, I may even polish the furniture…. LOOK! Fish pie is in the making, roasted peppers, and Madeira cake with raspberries, to be followed by Scrabble and wine and chocolate and… PEOPLE! Two whole people.
Two whole lovely people.
Oh. Listen, just as I finished typing ‘whole’ I looked up and I saw a woman running down the hill, throwing her arms around a laughing man, and they laughed and laughed some more, and she swung him around and he swung her around… elderly, rejoicing, delightful! I had to go out and tell them how lovely it was to see a real live hug. Separated households, separated souls, coming together, uniting in a great big joyous hug. How wonderful. Wow. I didn’t know how deeply I had missed seeing normal human interaction, friendship and love.
About three weeks ago there was talk about people in the UK adopting the ‘bubble’ system of coming out of isolation. It didn’t transpire but on the very day it was mentioned in the press I had a knock on my door and the couple who are coming tonight were there, asking me if we could ‘bubble’ together. Tonight, three weeks later, we are finally getting it together! I am so very, very happy. And I’m gonna beat them both, soundly and roundly, at Scrabble (my love doesn’t quite reach scrabble level)
This book I’m writing, about love… it’s sort of pole-axed me. I can’t see anything without recognising either love or the need for love or the absence of love.
Love, eh ? Someone should write a song about it.
Hey, do you want to see something beautiful? Turn your audio off and cop an eyeful of this: