Cold fronts are blasting in from the Atlantic, snow is falling on mountains and high ground, sub-zero temperatures and high winds are predicted. Beyond my window there is swirling mist, a white grimace. The snowy mountains invisible but the light very bright, dazzling and hard. And gusts of rain blowing into this whiteness like grey confetti. The two small dogs are balled up tight as cats, dreaming of sunshine. On the stove a pot of red speckled beans is simmering together with leeks, garlic, celery and tomato puree. Twenty litres of soup so that I can feed others later this evening, as the cold intensifies. I have been sitting up in bed wrapped in a duvet reading Angela Carter.
Angela Carter is of course the briliant fabulist who reinvented the modern fairy tale, a wicked, feminist and inventive writer who ‘put the beautiful at the service of liberty’. I read and reread her gothic fairy tales, her stories of circuses and the beautiful daughter of the executioner and magic toyshops and sexual politics. Her work was decades ahead of its time; she died too young of cancer at only 51.
We never know when time is about to fold in on us, the evanescent butterfly drifting down from the branch. I hear from a Welsh friend that a young woman, newly sober, is dying of cancer and will leave three small children under the age of five orphaned. Last summer she was tanned, blooming like a peach and speaking of living like a gipsy out near the Black Mountain. A chill runs through me — I hope there will be a grandmother or great-aunt to read fairy tales to those bereft children and help them discover the power of myths to live by.
Myth of course is never ‘out there’: it is at work within us, deep and continuous and illuminating.