It all seems a long time ago now. Despite it being still only January, and fairly cold, the earth is tipping, and the season is changing. I know this partly because of involuntary memory, an increase in its intensity.
So today's sherry, as I poured it and took the first sip as the sunlight slanted across the room, wasn't only something I knew as a souvenir of growing up and family custom. I smelled the strange smell of the sideboard cupboard, of glassware in the confined space of old wooden furniture, and felt and heard the gentle, tactful action of its door closing on the ragged velvetty seal around the frame, the texture under my fingers of the slightly lifting walnut veneer pattern, which looked like a friendly, ugly little face, on the bowed front of it, and the movement and light tapping sound of its small hinged brass handle. And I breathed in, momentarily, the air of a family Sunday at home, of modest, limited, slightly constrained conviviality, the cheerful expectation of a good meal - Sunday roasts could generally be relied on to come out well, though the exact hour at which they would be served could be variable - and of a not altogether unpleasant dullness and ennuie, a restful boredom.
This is not especially a memory of any season, but for me this kind of identic, involuntary recall tends only to happen in the transitional seasons of spring and autumn, so a visitation from it is particularly welcome and exciting at this time of year. Something to do with light and brain chemistry I suppose.
I really did mean to come and visit all your blogs today, but I had to finish 'The Children's Book' instead, since for some days now I have been waking up in the night and thinking about it and wondering and worrying about the people in it, almost to the point of getting up at all hours to continue reading it. I am, as Dick said he was when he finished it, now feeling quite bereft. As ever, when one is feeling any grief or loss, I am not in a critical frame of mind about the object of my bereavement, and rather lacking in articulate things to say about it. Neither, please, do I really want to know just now, from those cleverer and more clear-sighted than myself, about its faults and failings and why I shouldn't really have loved it as much as I did.
Anyway, as I have perhaps said before, I am a bear, if not of little, of very slow and ponderous brain, and most things take me quite a time to mull over. I will say, however, that though I have been thoroughly absorbed and intrigued by AS Byatt's books in the past, and have come to feel involved with and to believe in her characters, and generally to admire her talents enormously, I realise that this is the first time I have genuinely been moved by her writing.
Now, since Molly is very much better, and can be left alone for a few hours, (with blankets and hot-water bottles of course!) tomorrow evening, I'm off to make cock-a-leekie for Burns Night.