The world faded to black and white, driving past Cadair Idris. A believer in portent and omen for no other reason than life is made up of so many coincidences and near misses that just maybe omens exist too, I think today just might have been the real thing.
December 12th was, as some may know, the day of the official online launch of a self published book that has been waiting in the wing folds of my life for too long. I duly prepared for the uncomfortable zone of maximum internet coverage, even scheduling posts, but in the early hours the photograph of the front cover, the beautiful moon wave by Lateefa Spiker, corrupted every time I tried to add it. By then I had adopted a Doris Day cavalier attitude to this mechanical failure: que sera, sera, and decided to sleep off the niggle of worry.
The first phone call of the day, usually a mechanical voice offering a new boiler in exchange for the old when we don’t even have a boiler, turned out to be my sister. I was forewarned. My mother was ill. In a split we decided the day could be spent no other way.
This is a long winded way of saying a big thank you to all who encouraged, tweeted and liked all those posts and that coming here to be with my sister and my mother today was the right decision.
Bringing the Camino home, is also about returning. Even the planning, the anticipation is life enhancing, releasing the desire to write about it. Giving time to other pilgrims is a way of saying thank you not only for the very positive experience of walking but for all the blessings bestowed on us along the Camino.
We haven’t returned to Spain in four long years either as tourists or pilgrims, but plan to return in April 2018 to finish the Camino and serve a turn in Miraz the albergue run by the Confraternity of St James.
Four years ago we began walking the pilgrimage to Santiago along the coastal path, the Camino Del Norte and relished the dramatic views and the towns we passed. We took time to enjoy the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the pavement cafes in San Sebastián as we walked through, intending to revisit in tourist mode some time. At Oviedo we got the train forward to Santiago for a stint as hospitalero in the Camino Fin Del Camino. It coincided with the Feast of St. James, a joyous time to be in Santiago and enjoy the singing and dancing of groups from all round the world. Sadly, that was 2013 the year the rail tragedy cost many lives.
The atmosphere of sadness as the news spread through the thronging square that was prepared for fireworks and partying is hard to forget. So too the dignified return home or to the hospital to offer to donate blood, of the many who had gathered there. One thing is sure. Nothing is certain in this life.
Walking my first Camino was a liberating and a creative experience. The physical activity, the spiritual dimension, the beauty of the place and the encounters with other pilgrims’ daily, if not hourly, kindnesses all played a part. For me, as it does for many, it led to writing.
Since then I have written consistently, publishing short stories and blogging.
My first book, Murielle’s Angel, a novel based on my own experiences of walking the Camino Frances, was published four years ago.
Now a second novel, ‘Honeymoon’ is about to be published.
Ostensibly, ‘Honeymoon’has nothing at all to do with the Camino or Spain, but the creativity and learning to trust myself and the universe certainly is thanks to the Camino.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s was our choice this month at Pieces for Places Book Club, held at the wonderful furniture store in Barmouth where we get to try out comfortable armchairs with wine, cheese and a good chat about a book.
Many of us had the impression Breakfast at Tiffany’s was a romantic comedy, due no doubt to memories of the Blake Edward’s film version of the novella, and yearning for the Henry Mancini song Moon River and Audrey Hepburn’s very stylised depiction of Holly Golightly. None of us, it turned out, had read the actual book before. Marilyn Munro was Capote’s first choice for Holly, and would have made the film a different entity.
Although bitingly funny, Breakfast at Tiffany’s is not a romantic comedy, more social comment, but it is delightful for its prose and humour.
Capote has called Holly an American geisha rather than a socialite. The difference? The word geisha conveys skilled artist or artisan in Japanese with connotations of entertainer perhaps as singer or musician requiring long training. Holly is more of a debutant, living only for parties and the hope of a rich husband, for more than one season. It is said that geisha inhabit a separate reality which they call ‘the flower and willow world’. Courtesans were the flower and geisha the willow because of their subtlety, strength, and grace.
It seems Holly Golightly does inhabit a separate reality, two perhaps. She escapes poverty in a Southern community where being a child bride is the norm for girls and reinvents herself in New York, living precariously by entertaining rich men.
Holly’s reality involves a level of detachment from it. Capote portrays an innocent abroad, she does not convince as a hard hearted schemer, except when she initially abandons her cat. Her realities catch up with her first when Doc Golightly her husband comes to find her and when her weekly visits to Sing Sing to carry messages for a notorious (fictional) criminal, who goes by the wonderful name Sally Tomato are exposed and she is threatened with a prison sentence.
Holly’s comeuppance? banishment from her native land, living on in the memories of those who knew her, immortalised in an African carving. For a girl who described her occupation as travelling this is as much wish fulfilment as breakfast at Tiffany’s.
When my mother sleeps, her colour drops, her cheeks sink and only the slight movement of her breath under the bedclothes shows she is still here.
Today though, Ruby the cat, Ruby Dubes Ma calls her, each a favourite one for the other, insists on being stroked. An occasional finger from badly purpled hands, a left-over from a hospital stay, responds to Ruby’s lick and manages to ruffle some fur. The purr is pure contentment. Hard to say who is more pleased, Ruby or Ma. Both faces equally inscrutable, one a death mask and one a sphinx.