Advent – John Betjeman

The Advent wind begins to stir
With sea-like sounds in our Scotch fir,
It’s dark at breakfast, dark at tea,
And in between we only see
Clouds hurrying across the sky
And rain-wet roads the wind blows dry
And branches bending to the gale
Against great skies all silver pale
The world seems travelling into space,
And travelling at a faster pace
Than in the leisured summer weather
When we and it sit out together,
For now we feel the world spin round
On some momentous journey bound –
Journey to what? to whom? to where?
The Advent bells call out ‘Prepare,
Your world is journeying to the birth
Of God made Man for us on earth.’

And how, in fact, do we prepare
The great day that waits us there –
For the twenty-fifth day of December,
The birth of Christ? For some it means
An interchange of hunting scenes
On coloured cards, And I remember
Last year I sent out twenty yards,
Laid end to end, of Christmas cards
To people that I scarcely know –
They’d sent a card to me, and so
I had to send one back. Oh dear!
Is this a form of Christmas cheer?
Or is it, which is less surprising,
My pride gone in for advertising?
The only cards that really count
Are that extremely small amount
From real friends who keep in touch
And are not rich but love us much
Some ways indeed are very odd
By which we hail the birth of God.

We raise the price of things in shops,
We give plain boxes fancy tops
And lines which traders cannot sell
Thus parcell’d go extremely well
We dole out bribes we call a present
To those to whom we must be pleasant
For business reasons. Our defence is
These bribes are charged against expenses
And bring relief in Income Tax
Enough of these unworthy cracks!
‘The time draws near the birth of Christ’.
A present that cannot be priced
Given two thousand years ago
Yet if God had not given so
He still would be a distant stranger
And not the Baby in the manger.

Day 12 of 60 – Summer 2018

Cloudy, fog or heat haze? Not sure but no azure blue sky to greet me today. Turned out to be something that burnt off quickly.

Its Wednesday so it’s Friendship Circle! Today we are celebrating a 92nd birthday and being part of such a caring, supportive group.

Beautiful evening and had dinner at The Trickled Trout sitting in the garden. Great to catch up with travelling companion and discussing final arrangements: when I will pick her up and who is brining the hairdryer!

Day 2 of 60 – Summer 2018

It’s a beautiful day and am sipping green tea in the garden of our rented apartment in the center of old town Tbilisi.

Ahead lies a trip to the main wine producing area of Kakheti. Hundreds of grape varieties are grown here. I am not a wine lover but have been told on more than one occasion that I just haven’t found the wine for me yet. So I will willingly continue my quest for the elusive right wine (didn’t work out when in NZ…).

Day 11 of 60 – Summer 2018

A hazy sky this morning. It is a sad day, a day saying farewell to a very dear neighbour and friend. A brave lady who despite two heart valve replacements and all the other life effects of Lime disease still enjoyed good coffee and laughing.

Don’t cry for me now I have died, for I’m still here I’m by your side,

My body’s gone but my soul’s is here, please don’t shed another tear,

I am still here I’m all around, only my body lies in the ground.

I am the snowflake that kisses your nose,

I am the frost, that nips your toes.

I am the sun ,bringing you light,

I am the star, shining so bright.

I am the rain, refreshing the earth,

I am the laughter, I am the mirth.

I am the bird, up in the sky,

I am the cloud, that’s drifting by.

I am the thoughts, inside your head,

While I’m still there, I can’t be dead

Death is nothing at all.

I have only slipped away to the next room.

I am I and you are you.

Whatever we were to each other,

That, we still are.

Call me by my old familiar name.

Speak to me in the easy way

which you always used.

Put no difference into your tone.

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.

Laugh as we always laughed

at the little jokes we enjoyed together.

Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me.

Let my name be ever the household word

that it always was.

Let it be spoken without effect.

Without the trace of a shadow on it.

Life means all that it ever meant.

It is the same that it ever was.

There is absolute unbroken continuity.

Why should I be out of mind

because I am out of sight?

I am but waiting for you.

For an interval.

Somewhere. Very near.

Just around the corner.

All is well.