Sometime ago I was talking to Carolyn, an old friend and colleague, about the challenges of spending Christmas Day on your own and the consequent trepidation that I was feeling. As you would expect from such an experienced coach and counsellor, she wasn’t going to let me get away with that for long, and we ended the call with me having made her two promises. (How does she do that?)
The first was that I would get out and about with my camera and vicariously experience other people’s pleasure; seeing kids out and about with new toys and bicycles. The second was that I should do whatever it took to enjoy the full Christmas experience at home, so should stock up with food, drink, films and the TV schedule and keep myself occupied accordingly.
Appropriately enough on a day when the rules of time and space have been rewritten, I seemed to get my timings wrong for the first element. I didn’t get up too soon, or rather, once I’d texted the one person I know would be at work at 7.30 today, I went back to bed and did resurface too soon. I had a leisurely breakfast, showered and dressed, prepared some food for later and only then did I pick up the MKIII and head for Durham. It was 10.05 when I arrived and even though I then undertook another of the day’s text conversations it was still way too early for signs of life in the city. I wasn’t quite alone, there were the odd couple strolling here and there, an occasional elderly churchgoer, and of course some Chinese students taking pictures of each other.
These aside the roads, streets and alleyways were largely devoid of life,
the Palace Green similarly deserted,
As I left the city to prepare my lunch, the nature of my timing error became apparent as a steady stream of vehicles developed, all bound for the Cathedral. I’m guessing that the morning communion service was at 11.00. Still I was not downcast. The clear skies and fresh air had done the trick, and I even had time for a sneaky selfie in a barber shop window. Given the time of year I should have photoshopped a large red “E” to the right.