I had to make an early (for me) start today to get to a hospital in Portsmouth. People anxious about me having rather too much iron in my blood; me worrying that I was slowly turning into a giant magnet. Never having been there before I allowed an hour for the trip. Coat on, ready to leave, couldn’t find my car keys.
Searching in all the usual places; how many pockets does a chap need to have? My wife scolding. (“how many times have I shown you where to leave your keys.”) Panic setting in. “Use my car”. “No, I’d have to learn how the Satnav works and there’s no time”. Presence of mind returning I rush off to find the spare. At least I know where that is.
On my way out the door I notice a pile of shopping bags in the hall. Ah, this is a system I developed to make sure I don’t forget to take things into the car; I put them by the door and hide my keys underneath. I find my keys.
This trivial muddle is a microcosm of what its like when you get to my great age and you’re trying to keep on top of the rigours of daily living. You invent a foolproof system and it turns round and bites you.
I actually arrived at my destination with twenty minutes to spare. This is due to my fear of being late phobia. I do seem to have with the very best intentions accumulated quite a bit of baggage accompanying me in my daily round. You might spare a prayer for my longsuffering wife Anita, who does her best to keep us as close to living as normal lives as possible.
We’re coming to the end of yet another challenging year. I doubt there are many of us who haven’t found the journey tough. I wish you the very best for Christmas and the new year and leave you with the poem by Millie Haskins, quoted by King George V1 in his 1939 Christmas broadcast to the British Empire, just as life was about to get difficult and dangerous. (The story is that he was given this poem by his 13 year old daughter Princess Elizabeth. So very much missed.
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.