More than likely this will sound a little odd to you, but quite often, when I take the redeye night flight, I glance out of the window and get mesmerised by the tiny, little lights of cities unknown.
Something indescribable happens: I’m haunted by a strange sense that somewhere down there is the city of my childhood.
Here I am again aboard a plane, it’s a Summery night, warm, gentle and tender, I’m wearing a dress with the same sensibility, a dress made of a soft, light fabric. I’m curious as I look down at the city beneath me.
Miracles do not exist: I know this all too well. So why is it then, that I still have this strange feeling? The feeling that if I was suddenly transported down there to that little city, amongst the sparkling sea of twinkling lights, I’d also be instantly transported back in time?
I get the sense that I would find myself in the middle of a winter from many moons ago…
I’m 6 again, my Grandfather is humming a joyful tune and dragging me along in a sled, my entire world is a bright snow-covered white and I’m happily blinded by the sun.
Here’s my place, number 34. I throw myself down the stairs, shove open the heavy burgundy doors and launch towards the kitchen.
I can see my grandmother, she’ s bending over in front of the oven, the windows are misty with steam. Here I am, standing in the doorway of the kitchen, totally transfixed, and all of a sudden everything comes flooding back to me: the anticipation, the feverish excitement before the first guests arrive, my heart is beating out of my chest, there’s a sense of renewal, an impending miracle, evidence of Santa Claus….
There’s the clickety click crunch of the crisp snow under my Grandad’s brown leather shoes, my felt boots sit upturned waiting to be brushed clean before returning to the cosy inside, the reflection of my wintery, pink flushed cheeks in the old mirror down the hall, my Grandmother’s hands and her veins under transparent skin, her age spots, the alluring smell of fir and mandarins mingled with floor polish, through the window the green and gold dome of the St.Andrew’s church keeps watch over me, snowflakes dance under the yellow light of the old street lamp, there’s magic in the night.
It’s 1985. It’s my winter.