Hera stood in the queue in the café at the back of the Covered Market, wondering why she was penny pinching on lunch. She’d been away all week visiting her cousins in Yorkshire, and as departure from
What next indeed? My novel-in-progress has been so for five years now: autobiographical it surely is, but as I dig around in memory and hard copy for appropriate passages to illustrate this blog, it feels like my life is following my pen, rather than the other way around. There are delightful twists. In the opening chapter of Beansetting the heroine watches a mummers' play. On this return visit I performed in a mummers' play: In comes I, Old Father Christmas... Far more interesting!
It had not occurred to me when I decided to take the children to England to visit their father's family for Christmas, that I would tread another measure along the path of Bereavement. We stayed with one of Elwin's sisters, in the same suburb of Oxford that Elwin grew up in. Sisters, nephews and nieces, cousins , all shared memories and I was also able to add elements of Elwin's Oxford to the family knowledge. I made time to walk the places that he and I shared together, sometimes with the children, sometimes in solitude. How he and I used to walk Oxford, exploring every little backwater and high-walled passage; a perfect way to deal with the early morning tyranny of jetlag, we discovered. I felt little regret, just the gratitude of having shared that place with Elwin, but the tears came unexpectedly on the very last day, when I took the children onto Christ Church Meadow, and memory of walks together felt most tangible here. Later, the children lit a candle for their father at St Frideswide's tomb in the cathedral.
This morning I returned home to New Zealand and am filling jetlagged hours understanding that my time in Oxford was a re-setting of my emotional clock; a further freeing-up for forward movement.
Happy New Year