Written for The Zoe Ball Breakfast Show on BBC Radio 2 on July 2021, the morning of the day England play Denmark in the semi-finals of the European Championships. You can listen here.
I’m feeling on edge today. Right on the edge of things, but in a good way.
It’s partly the football: the sense that something exciting is about to happen. It’s not just England: Scotland and Wales fans have also known this feeling lately, when their teams have given them a surge of belief. And it’s not just the football. The end of term is coming for all those tired teachers. And there’s a lot of talk about Freedom Day too, when we’ll finally be shot of all the restrictions, isolations and frustrations of Covid. As if everything will go back to normal, and may even be better. Maybe. I hope so. I need hope.
One of the hardest things for me, as for a lot of people, was not being able to see my Mum, Marion.
When she got ill I was afraid I would never see her again. And I felt the pain of friends who lost their Mums, without the chance to hold them and be held. So hard. I needed hope then.
But the day did come when I walked into her house, put my arms around her, and breathed in her scent and felt her holding me, as she first did when I was born, and it was beautiful. A sense of home.
A little win after a long time of hurt.
The Christian holy stories, and those of other faiths, are full of the hope of heaven or a paradise to come, when all will be made well. So many songs of faith have been sung by people in pain, in prison or in slavery, who somehow managed to have hope. Singing that life is hard now, but it’s not meant to be this way, it’s not always going to be this way, because, as the civil rights campaigner Jesse Jackson once said, it’s dark, but the morning comes. And there has been a bit of darkness about lately hasn’t there? But the light hasn’t totally gone out.
And suddenly, I feel a surge of optimism, in this national moment of anticipation when good things do feel possible again. An England win? A long hot summer of unrestricted fun?
But even if not, I’m starting to believe there will be other wins.
Maybe there really is hope.