I know, I know… too many. I will tell you why I’m blogging again, but try to be patient for now, bear with me.
I’ve just had a revealing conversation with my granddaughter; we were talking about ‘I’m A Celebrity-Get-Me-Out-Of- Here’ and wondering what it’s going to be like this year, in North Wales rather than Australia. I wondered what strange and horribly nauseating things they would have to eat in the Bush Tucker Trials now that they’re more mundane than exotic, and Frankie said that apparently they’ll have things like black pudding, tripe and pig’s trotters. Flip me, amigos ! That’s a damn good supper where I come from. Get a few Derby people in there and they’ll lick the plates clean. Black pudding, bacon and grilled tomatoes… fabulous! And just the thought of tripe is making my mouth water, whether it’s raw in vinegar or cooked in onion sauce, tripe is great, packed full of protein (it’s the stomach lining of a sheep or cow). And as for pig’s trotters, in Lancashire we would collect them from the butcher’s, newly boiled and wrapped in newspaper, a real treat, sitting in the yard, gnawing away on them, winkling out the meat…. ahh. Southerners don’t know what they’re missing.
Maybe it’s as much about the distance in time as the distance in miles, and maybe, even in the north, pig’s trotters have been forgotten since the 1950s, and tripe since the 60s, but you can still find black pudding on the shelves of Tesco. It’s very anaemic and tame compared to the real stuff back then, up north, but it’s still blood pudding (which was its original name). When I lived in Lancashire our neighbour would collect scraps and a bucket of blood from the butcher’s every week and make the best pudding ever. Oh, and that’s reminded me about brawn… I’ve not seen brawn for years.
Sometimes it’s as if I was born not just in another century, but another world. Don’t you think it’s fascinating that we all carry with us our own worlds, our own interior landscapes, influenced and informed by the lives we’ve led and the people we’ve met? I wonder if there’s another single person reading this blog who remembers the things that I do? I wonder if any of you will ever let me have a peek into your past? Are any of you writers (apart from the obvious ones) and do you ever share your memories? So many people don’t. Why not? You’re interesting! You are!
Frankie is back with me for the second half of her school term and when I drove down to the M4 to collect her, the sun was setting behind me, the light was shimmering golden, the sky radiant, the whole picture both too delicate and yet too brash and gaudy for words, the image in my wing mirrors simply bloody wonderful. It was a breathtaking drive and I was filled with excitement and a sort of racing delight that the world is so beautiful, the sky so magnificent. It made me think of everyone I know and love, and wonder if they were seeing the same sunset where they were, and if it was as breath-taking, if their hearts were also lifting in praise of God’s great creation. It’s the last day of a mini-lockdown of two weeks. Doesn’t sound too terrible, does it, two weeks? But it’s come after 9 months of covid restrictions and for many it has been the hardest phase so far. Because of the restrictions there were few cars on the road and that reminded me that some of my friends were living in town, or isolating, and so not able to get out to see the autumn showstopper that I was seeing (mine was a permitted journey, before you dob me in). At midnight the lockdown ends, and I hope that this week they’ll celebrate by taking a drive, up into the hills, or along the coast, enjoying a real change of scene…. and I’m going to pray that they all get a magical sunset too. Why should I be the only one with all the luck?
Twice I pulled off into a lay-by to take a photo for you, but each time the road was too low and the hedges too high to get a decent picture, so I drove on to the motorway service area and tried again. Doesn’t sound everso beautiful, does it, a Motorway Service Area? But this is the view as I waited for Frankie to arrive:
I read an article today about the problems of depression and isolation after this long nine months of restrictions and uncertainty and I was shocked to read that there are 60,000 people living alone in Wales alone. A swathe of aloneness and a peak in mental illness. Speaking to another single person this week , I confessed that I just longed for another hand to hold, someone to share my life with. Tears came to her eyes as she said “I just want to be held.”
That’s why I’m writing this blog. I’m writing this for anyone out there who is alone, and lonely, fed-up and anxious. Longing for a human touch. Or maybe you’re not alone but still lonely. Or in a huge family and weighed down, stressed and just plain tired. Whoever you are, whatever your world, I want to include you in our conversation about black pudding and pig’s trotters, and I’d love you to see the sunset I saw, and I want you to know that this hard time will end. You already know that, of course you do, but sometimes it’s good to hear someone state the bleedin’ obvious.
This will end. Hold on. Know that tonight someone is praying for you, know that God loves you, and know for certain sure that he holds all things together. He is where you are, and he is where your need is. No need is too great for him, no depression too deep, no fear too overwhelming.
So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Romans 8:38-39 (TPT)
This silly blog can’t mend the pain of loneliness, or hold you, or give you peace, but I know someone who can:
‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’ John 16:33 (NIV)