Hectic last minute Hogmanay preparations. The butcher in the covered market spends ten minutes discussing with 'The Font' the best oven settings for roasting Baron d'Agneau. The cut has been stuffed with young garlic. '' The gentlest of flavours " he says authoritatively. The ladies in the queue behind offer their opinion on timing and temperature. Across the aisle the poulterer has a tub of goose dripping for the roast potatoes. France it must be said is 'special'.
This New Years morning dawns with a cold wet nose in my ear at six. A PON house has immovable PON routines. The Old Farmer is out on his balcony watching the blue Supermoon. '' A storm is on the way in from the Atlantic '' he says matter of factly. '' There will be strong winds ". Our old neighbour saw the New Year in alone. He said he was too tired to go out. '' My leg is playing up ".
The PONs master is ever so slightly tired. However, there is nothing like a long walk with dogs to clear the mind. Bob and Sophie are already of the opinion that this is the best day ever.
A nephew finds lines of a poem written in the final entry in his grandmothers 1939 diary. A 'difficult' time for a young woman. The recorded words of The King ( how strange that sounds to someone who has only ever known our current Queen ) from his year end broadcast. Sentiments that sound old fashioned now but were part of a reassuring national narrative when great events were underway. We all agree they're worth remembering for that alone.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.” So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.”
We look the poem up on Google. Sure enough there it is on the LSE blogsite with its elegaic cadence ' And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East '.
And so at midnight the little known poet, Minnie Louise Haskins, finds her words read aloud and her genius toasted by strangers. An innocent and gentle start to 2018 in deepest, deepest France profonde.