I have had to lower the blind this morning in the room where I bash away on my computer. On a sunny day in the winter, this doesn’t usually happen until well into the morning but today, the movement of the planets and other things well beyond my understanding, have given me an early burst of light.
I live all winter in the shadow of a man-made hill which has stood there for over a thousand years – originally as a fortified defence enclosure but now as a precipitous nature reserve.
The small back yard, surrounded by its old flint wall, which I call garden is plunged into darkness all winter by this strange ancient mound but today the sun begins its triumphant ascent until that little yard becomes a paradise island.
Today, delicately coloured primroses are blooming with their distinct pure yellow that is never caught in art. A robin is sitting on the wall deciding whether my space might become his teritory for the burgeoning season and my spirits have lifted.
Is it the sun, the flowers or the birds? Or is it Metronidazole, my latest prescribed drug?
Well, this antibiotic is doing its trick – my swollen gums are deflating and the pain is now minimal, the latest in a whole list of discomforts since my illness started in late October.
Hope is in the air – no question.
I have my meeting with the consultant in a week. All the results of my various scans and blood tests should have been analysed, and I may well be on my way out of this miserable winter of pain and convalescence.
This is not Spring. Later today, we are promised severe gales, possible “thundersnow” crashing in from the Atlantic too and that sun will soon be hidden behind clouds of deepest black.
If I am stranded still longer round my fireside whilst the wind howls outside, I shall keep up my hopes in a variety of ways.
In the company of friends and relations, in some limply dawning return to writing and, maybe surprizingly, to thinking about two men whose deaths are announced today.
John Mortimer – the English playwright, novelists, barrister and bon viveur, his life filled with all kinds of passion which showed little signs of diminishing as he entered his infirm old age. We can lament his passing but we can still laugh at his wit and honour him as one of those rambling, disreputable champions of liberty that every nation needs at its centre.
He fought in his own way for freedom of speech and civil liberties. We owe him some of those freedoms we now enjoy in Britain. He said: “Liberty is allowing other people to do things you disapprove of.”
The other death which gave me hope even though it came as the depressing result of violence in opposition to all of those things that Mortimer advocated.
Lasantha Wickrematunge, the editor of Sri Lanka’s pioneering newspaper, The Sunday Leader, was shot on his way to work yesterday.
Of the obituaries drawing attention to his stand against the brutality of his government’s campaigne against the minority Tamils, none is more eloquant than the one written by himself and saved to be published after his expected assassination.
He spoke for all those journalists who have stood up for their beliefs, defied unpopularity, and risked their lives in the fight for a wider liberty.
He wrote: “If we do not speak out now, there will be no one left to speak for those who cannot, whether they be ethnic minorities, the disadvantaged or the persecuted.”
His death was a crime but his bravery in refusing to be silenced by its inevitability should be an inspiration to us all.
So even when that sun disappears later on today, I will remember these men and my hope will live on a bit longer because of them.