Up early and out for another walk in the market town, loving thr freshness and slight chill of the dawn, the misty hillsides. Up the road to the castle, part Norman and part Jacobean. Stopped to look at old shelves of dew-damp books, honesty bookselling. A man in a cap, not young but sleeping rough, was there and stood up pretended to be looking at books as I walked around. His rucksack next to the dirtbin. An empty can of cider next to the stairs leading up to the castle front entrance.
I had been reeading all about Bill Wilson struggling to sober up and the visit from Ebby Thatcher, talking to a ravaged and despairing Bill W about the Oxford Group. I felt sympathy with this lost soul staring at bookshelves and waiting for me to leave. I wasn’t sure if I should go over and greet him but it was lonely and deserted there and I was wary of finding myself faced with drug psychosis. Alcoholism I understand but not the delusions of chemical euphoria or paranoia.
So left and walked down to Brook Terrace, Booth Terrace, Albert Terrace; wandering around the grey and lovely back streets with stone-walled houses, sash windows and window boxes of pale blue petunias and bright red and creamy-pink pelargoniums. Thinking as I walked about the difficulties of adjusting to life over here, the feeling of having escaped from a much harsher and more dangerous society, my fears around belonging-not belonging, of being trapped, of being homeless, twisting and turning mentally in paradox.
Back home I had salmon with eggs on fresh bread, sitting with Sunday papers at the breakfast table with S. Coffee, reading all about Gordon Brown’s failures as Labour leader and PM. That Madonna is 50 and that fact cannot be reinvented. Nigel Slater being subtle about barbecues.
Then rushed back into town for the 10am Mass — dull and dogmatic sermon, kindly priest but not bright at all. Something approaching the claustrophobia I felt in St Mary’s last week. And a painful backache, near my shoulders. A hymn to the tune of Sail Bonny Boat/Over the Seas to Skye.
Back at the house, French doors open, heat flowing in, sun bright on the soft green grass outside. Reading more of the biography of BillW — not particularly honest elsewhere but good on the horrors of his alcoholism. Thinking about the relief of being sober and the ‘language of the heart’ found only between those who have experienced the same stigma and despondency and shame of runaway drinking.
Sleepy Sunday — lawnmowers, blackbirds in the garden, children laughing and playing next door. The feeling that came to me in church, an echo of Julian of Norwich: ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.’ To trust in this process, to follow my heart.