This year I was prepared for the snow. I got the wood in early and bought new torches and some snazzy LED battery-operated lights that are dotted around the house ready for power cuts. I stocked up on food that will last if we can’t get deliveries and bought back-ups for Christmas (frozen veg in case the Asda van can’t make it with fresh veg before Christmas.) It has been bitterly cold and we’ve had some torrential, but not untypical, rain, but apart from a flurry of hail and wet slush that sprinkled the ground a patchy white on Monday, we’ve had no snow and the forecast keeps saying the next few days will be slightly milder. The superstitious bit of me left over from childhood keeps thinking that if I hadn’t prepared we’d have several feet of snow like last year, but despite not really believing that I’m grateful that my family will be able to travel here on roads that aren’t treacherous with snowdrifts and ice.
I’m always excited about Christmas. Eleven years ago it was a marathon of church services – Advent services, carol services (including those for local schools) and finally Midnight Mass and the Christmas morning service. Now life is very different, but I can’t resist Advent calendars and lighting the candles each Sunday to count down the weeks, and I still bring out the little olive wood nativity figures given to my now 25 year old son at his baptism by his godmother, Jo. The change began fourteen years ago, another Advent in another place, and is charted in my collection of prose poetry, Stale Bread & Miracles.
Stir up Sunday
It’s the morning after the autumn fair. I sit alone on the vestry floor by the door of the open, empty safe. It is cold here in November, cold enough for a Christmas turkey store, I joke each week with the sacristan. It takes a long time to notice the cold today. I don’t know how long I’ve sat like this: iced numb. I force myself to walk through the church, forgetting to lock each door on the way. As I reach the porch there’s a rattling noise, someone banging the double door. I hear a thin whine become a wail. It’s coming from me.
Meg! Meg! Rob hammers the door.
I slump on the other side and sob. Eventually I let him in.
The money… the fair… the… someone… the safe…
The police seem to appear immediately: a fair woman taking down details. I have it clear like a film, but the sound-track is gone, except for threats and expletives.
It was not a single incident that led to the final break, but you can read more about that in the book… the upshot was several years of illness and uncertainty that led to this wonderful place and, eventually, to Cinnamon Press. So here I am – hunkering down into the winter and, between cold weather preparations, catching up with all the admin and editing that took a back seat during an autumn of launches.
There are six books in near states of completion all in need of final tweaking so that they can be signed off and go to the printer, but today I’ve been uploading electronic information on forward titles to the book trade websites and writing emails to secure launch venues and dates for next year. I’ve also managed to complete a new cover with Cottia home from university to work with me on the design.
All in all the weather is not too bad at all – I wish I could say the same for the political landscape – as a wonderful ninety year old friend who once had to flee the US during the McCarthy trials reminded me today, there is plenty of cold, ice and storm on that front. In such an economic climate there is no certainty for a small press, but I’m grateful that not only am I not snowed in, but once again I can say at the end of this year – I’m still here.