Diary: Elizabeth Figg

by
08 December 2017

ISTOCK

Showers and taps

GETTING used to a new home takes time; you have to learn its little idiosyncrasies: which key opens which lock, which way to turn the door handles so that they work (not as obvious as it sounds, I promise you); how to adjust the taps to avoid the showerhead flipping up and sending a jet of water over the end of the bathtub (I have yet to master this particular trick with any consistency).

And then there are the noises. I have lived in old properties for most of my life; so the creaks, groans, and knockings in this vicarage hold no terrors for me, even if they have caused a little consternation among some of the guests we have had to stay — not everyone is as sanguine as I am about hearing what sounds to be somebody tapping on one’s bedroom door in the middle of the night.

 

Sounds of the night

MY HUSBAND is rarely troubled by nocturnal noises; weapons training in his naval days has left him just a tad deaf; so, once he is asleep, Fred Astaire could be putting on his top hat and dusting off his tails on our landing and my dear man would remain contentedly in the land of Nod. He is not, however, impervious to a sharp dig in the ribs, which is why the two of us were to be found wide awake at 4.30 the other morning.

“Robin,” I hissed, prodding him into consciousness. “Listen!” The poor man duly listened. The silence that ensued stretched from seconds into minutes, and I had begun to wonder if I had imagined it, when, suddenly, a faint but distinct cackling sound echoed through the night air.

My husband yawned. “Sounds like an old woman. Could it be . . . ouch!” Another sharp prod told him that, no, it could not be my mother. Mum is not in the habit of laughing maniacally in the middle of the night.

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The cackling continued, and it dawned on me what it was. Years ago, when the boys were tiny, we visited a sound-and-light show at Land’s End, complete with the legend of the Sea Witch, which gave Number 2 Son nightmares for months afterwards. Nothing would console him, even reading the explanation, given in the brochure, that the legend of the witch stemmed from people hearing the calls of certain gulls in the night — calls that sounded very much like an old woman’s cackling laughter.

 

Watery resting-place

I AM not surprised that some gulls have taken up residence near the house; not only are we close to the sea, but, after the heavy rain that we’ve been having of late, the fields behind the house have turned into a large lake.

It appeared a couple of weeks ago, when the north-west suffered a deluge that made the national news — including a picture of a smiling man, shoes and socks in hand, trousers rolled up, wading through water in the underpass at our local railway station, Carnforth, of Brief Encounter fame.

Amid all the destruction and disruption caused by the flooding, our new lake is quite beautiful: lava-like under a scarlet sunrise, and cold, sharp silver in the moonlight. Apparently, this winter lake has formed since time out of mind, providing a resting place for migrating geese and other wildlife, including the cackling seagulls.

I must remember to warn Number 2 Son before he comes home for Christmas.

 

Gathering winter fuel

I HAVE mentioned earworms before: those tunes which get into your head and just keep racketing around. My inner juke-box has adjusted to the season, and the soundtrack for most of my activities at the moment is the wondrous “Celtic Advent Carol” (if you are not familiar with it, you will find various versions on YouTube).

On the whole, the music remains safely contained between my ears, but, just occasionally, it erupts, especially with such a stirring song. So it was that, several days ago, drivers queuing at a certain motorway petrol station were treated to a burst of the “Celtic Advent Carol” coming from a muddy people-carrier. Not exactly the best place to be singing “Light the candle, Jesus is coming.”

 

Breathing in Advent

I OFFER you this seasonal meditation by Christine Sine, of www.godspacelight.com.

In this season of waiting,
breathe in life.
Life of the One
who created all things,
whose image we bear.
In this season of waiting,
breathe in love.
Love of the One
who gave a precious Son
to live as one of us.
In this season of waiting,
breathe in peace.
Peace of the One
who calmed the sea
and quiets the tumult of our souls.
In this season of waiting,
breathe in hope.
Hope that the One
for whom we wait
Is indeed making all things whole.

 

May Advent be a time of blessing for you, as well as those to whom you minister.

 

Elizabeth Figg’s husband is the Vicar of Warton and Borwick with Yealand, in Lancashire.

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