I wrote these words about true love and the divine a long, long time ago but a friend remembered and posted them this morning for Valentine’s Day, so I thought I’d share them with you to read or hear.
There is no tooth fairy. There was no Saint Valentine, patron saint of chocolate companies and florists, but I don’t care.
I’ll buy a big red satin card, embroidered with a silken rose, stuffed with rhyme or purple prose, and send it in the post, sealed with a kiss, to myself.
I’ll have a candlelit dinner for one, with white-suited waiters attending my needs, pouring champagne into fluted glasses. I’ll order two of their finest meals, and eat them both.
After my binge of kitsch and caviar, love and lurve and lovely naughties, I’ll sleep it off for days, as candles turn to ashes, and the season of romance becomes the sullen month of Lent.
Then, where will I find love, as dark nights linger and cold constricts the tender buds? There are plenty of people willing to advise. I love the ones who ask questions, who sit by the fire with you and a glass of whiskey and wonder.
When my son Jacob was born, something very beautiful happened. His Mum was being taken care of by the nurses – she needed some attention after the caesarian – so they gave me the baby to hold. I looked into his face for the first time, inhaled his scent and held him close. And kept holding him, as they left me to it for a while.
I found myself alone in a side room with our boy for the first half an hour or so of his life.
Now, to be honest, I was knackered. Not as knackered as his Mum Rachel, obviously, but still. So I did what I shouldn’t really have done and laid down on the bed in there. It was just me and him, undisturbed.
I remember, vividly, the feeling of this little baby lying on my chest, sleeping. My breathing changed to match his and I felt as close to him as I have to anyone, ever.
This isn’t a tribute to Hamilton, although that is an astonishing piece of work. Wonderful. No, this is about the privilege of telling a story and singing songs inspired by that story in the room where the action takes place, at the Belle Tout lighthouse. The video is below, have a watch. Can I tell you why?
The people risking their lives to cross the Channel in small boats are not aliens, invaders, migrants or some other lesser category of human to be dismissed. They are us.
I’m posting this in honour of Rasoul Iran-Nejad, Shiva Mohammad Panahi, Anita and Armin, who died out there. Kids and their parents. I didn’t know them, but earlier this year I had the privilege of meeting and listening to a number of young teenagers who have made the same crossing. One of them, Akoy, comes from the same town as the family that died.This is his story.