There are times when writing this blog feels beyond me. No matter how much I promise myself that I’ll start mid-afternoon on Thursday, it’s invariably 5.00 pm before I get going and then, on a normal Thursday, I’ll go for a swim at 6.30, drop in on my mother in her retirement home on my way back, bolt down some food, then head off to the pub for the traditional music session, before getting home at around 11.00 pm to tidy up what I’d written earlier and prepare to post it first thing next morning.
It’s a breathless evening, and the musical part of it is a physical workout. There’s nothing sedate about jigs, reels and marches, and even less about making their accompaniment heard on a pub piano in a crowded bar. But in a perverse way I always look forward to it and somehow it all seems to work. The writing and playing feed off one another, and although I tend to feel pretty wiped out on Friday morning, I’m always reinvigorated by the emails and comments, if there are any, that come in response to the blog. It feels like a good way to end the week.
Which is really why I’m persisting now, even though I’m having to summon the energy from somewhere near the bottom of my boots. And this is not a normal Thursday evening. Any minute now my oldest daughter Sophie, granddaughter Zoë and son-in-law Moff are about to arrive for the night. Hot on their heels will come Seattle’s lone Dark Angel, Richard Pelletier, with his wife Linda, visiting Scotland for the first time. It’s going to be a jolly evening.
This is summer in Scotland, although one wouldn’t know it from the temperature – a breezy 10 degrees. Summer is when people are on the move, and being just a few hundred yards off the main road, and at the gateway to the Highlands, we tend to be on the itinerary. Not that I’m complaining. Visits from friends or relatives one seldom sees are one of the great pleasures of life.
This week I’ve been writing fund-raising literature again for a religious community, and the word ‘commensality’ is rattling around in my head. It means sharing a table – one of the simplest but most profound acts of hospitality. And in sharing food, drink and ideas with others one shares oneself. It’s a simultaneous giving and receiving of the most connecting kind, and it more than makes up in inner warmth for what the Scottish summer lacks in sunshine. It even helps me complete this short and rather rambling post!