A winter’s day in a deep and dark December

Paul Simon’s opening lines to ‘I am a rock’.

And there’s the fourth verse:

‘I have my books and my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor, hiding in my room, safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me …’

I began the day in the Cotswolds.

The wind howled all night. The depressions keep rolling in. It’s way too warm, and the seasonal outbreaks of frozen hands and chilblains are in abeyance. We’ve still, though, got our winter fuel allowance, being over 65. Motorways are a mass of muck and spray, and trains are no doubt already overloaded. Christmas four days away.

First thing I ran down to the Painswick Stream, and up again across the common. I didn’t see a soul, only a few cows, to whom of course I said hello. The southerly wind was strong enough to feel chill, but tucked between hedgerows all was still, and as I began the climb back I could see the sun, just risen below the hill, touching the clouds a gentle pink and red. And yes, there was blue sky.

By mid-morning the storm was raging, and the trees bending before the wind. And I had the motorway ahead of me.

Back in my London flat another kind of peace, the steady hum of traffic on the main road below. Enough, I thought, and put on a new album of Bob Dylan songs recorded by other artists.

‘I am a rock/I am an island,’ is the refrain of Paul Simon’s song.

But the ocean, and the rain, is Bob Dylan’s:

‘Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall’


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