There was a poem by Thomas Carlyle that was forever being trotted out when I was at primary school. Actually, it was only the first two lines of the poem that were trotted out, usually in assembly while we were sitting cross-legged on the floor that served as hall, dining room and gym, by the headmaster, as part of a speech exhorting us to be good and useful citizens.
“So here hath been dawning another blue day;
Think, wilt thou let it slip useless away?”
I can still smell the cabbage that the dinner ladies were cooking up with dead man’s leg and frog spawn. That’s beef stew and tapioca, for those unfamiliar with school dinners of the 1960s. Yes, those were the days when cabbage had to be cooked until it was thoroughly denatured before it was deemed fit to serve up. I didn’t like cabbage, and I didn’t like that poem. My soul’s answer to the question, if I could have formulated one, would have been: yes, I might well let it slip away, and what’s it to you? The lines come back every so often to mock me, but I am a grown-up now and can do what I want. Not strictly true (see profile), but I can at least stick two fingers up at the Blue Day brigade, if there were any around, who want to tell me how useless I am being unless I am living life their way. They also serve who lie and stare at ceiling cracks. I mean to say.
I thank my lucky stars that I have never been one of those who suffer in the dark months because of lack of daylight. I meet many who do, in varying degrees; it must be horrible and thank goodness for light boxes. Quite often, in winter, on bad days when it takes a very long time for me to incarnate into the day, I don’t really see more than a couple of hours of real day light, which for me is ok. I like daylight, but electric light and candles are fine by me too. But this is the thing: I think the dark months, for me, are actually easier than summer because they seem to ask less of me. It is all very well slipping back under the quilt in the afternoon when it is already twilight, but the hours and hours of perfect daylight do, if I’m to be honest, screech the lines of Thomas Carlyle at me, and then I’m back with the cabbage and a vague, uneasy sense of having been guilty of waste and negligence.
It’s the same with weather. Though I do love a clear and sparkling day, I would rather it were a cold one that I can wrap up against, and I love the feeling in the air that real cold brings – the clean, pure sense of possibility and grace. When others are drinking in the heat and sun, I am sheltering from it, feeling myself to be the only one in the whole world who is not out partying on the beach.
Er – today I have been up for only a few hours, but the day was not blue. It has slipped rather, though. And Mr. Signs has been up with the light, battling it out, feeling knackered and post-viral. Not good. But he’ll be working from home for the rest of the week, and I’ll be seeing my LP person again tomorrow – having another stab at it.