Looking back, and forward
18 December 2016
Yay! Charlie’s back, after a wonderful but so-quick-trip to NZ, and we’ve had the quietest week down in Dorset with Henry, Percy and Mavis. The day he arrived home, he was knocked down by one of those nasty not-quite-sure-where-they-have-come-from airplane bugs, so we didn’t just do the crazy pre-Christmas weekend which had been planned with some friends, and instead he slept a lot and caught up. Almost on the mend. But we were all incredibly excited to see him, and he us. It’s actually been perfect days being so quiet down in Dorset, if not quite what we’d hoped for.
And now it’s Sunday evening, and we’re back in London, and Charlie’s asleep. I’ve had the loveliest hour or so looking back over a whole year of blogs and photographs. As we’re about to tip in to Christmas and the New Year, it’s often easy to think to ourselves ‘where did this year go?’. In fact, there’s a whole industry out there just making you obsess about time, and where it goes. And then you realise that aside from the day-to-day stuff, the year is made up of just a few events, maybe one a month, maybe two, many not even that at all; the rest is the background, but also the bits that we call real life, and where I happen to think the real importance of our lives lies.
And of course, how quickly, that passes. Because it’s just a day here, and a day there. But one of the reasons I love writing this blog is because it gives me the chance to look back, both on a year, and now, these days, to look back over the same week year after year – fascinating to see what stays the same, and what changes. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I used to hate keeping a diary as a child. I didn’t see the point. Now, the more I think about it, the more I love it.
So I hope you’ll forgive me for pulling out lots of my favourite photos of 2016 and enjoying looking back; pictures without commentary, other than to say if you need to know what’s happening, then somewhere in the blogs you will find everything you see!
I pop in this little photo purely because the shop, Gandolfi, which I finally got around to blogging about in 2016, has now closed, as I was on the Marylebone Road the other day….
In so many images are so many narratives and so many happy memories encapsulated. And there’s no doubt that one of the greatest pleasures of writing this blog is reading all the comments which so many thoughtful readers contribute, some, regularly, others very occasionally, or just once. One of the first rules of being a proper blog-writer is that you are instructed to reply to every comment, and I’m always sad I just don’t really have time, because I don’t really have time to write the blog at all, or, for that matter, to answer emails or letters I really should answer in the office, as promptly as I’d like. So I hope you’ll rest assured that it’s me who reads and moderates every comment left on the blog, and I’m very grateful. It occurs to me now, I don’t think I’d be quite such a regular diary-keeper if no-one was reading. I enjoy a minor sense of obligation to fulfil a Monday morning routine for a lot of people all over the world!
It’s Christmas; a time of year I love, reflective, a turning moment. So next weekend, and until the New Year, I’ll be taking a little rest (I think), and so give you lots of love for a wonderful, peaceful time, however you plan to spend it.
I know that it’s easy to feel that, as 2016 rolls to its end, that the world feels on the brink of change, and that many of the readers of this blog feel worried – and even read my words or look at my pictures as a form of a escape from the torrent of bad news that the mass media rams down our throats ceaselessly.
But without burying my head from problems at all, I’d merely urge you do what I always try to do, and that is this. Look at that little part of the world that you can directly influence, in your own way: it might be your front yard, your street, your village. And do whatever you can to make that world just a bit better in the next twelve months. And if we all managed that – well, that would be a powerful, powerful thing.