Two images prevail in my mind tonight. One is a postcard which is on my windowsill. It is of the Lady Chapel of the 12th Century Church of St Bartholomew the Great, in Smithfield in the City of London. I bought it there 55 years ago, when I was getting to know Mrs Llew. I was a junior journalist on a trade journal, a long way, professionally, from the roaring presses of the national newspapers of Fleet Street, which were only a stone’s throw away. That church and its Lady Chapel were for me, at my stage in life, a place where the veil between the present and eternity is thin. I found guidance there. In old age tonight I find myself turning again to that battered, black and white postcard and my memory of the place. I remember my lunchtime visits there. And I find not only a comfort but a sense of certainty that, in Dame Julian’s words, ‘All shall be well’.
The other image is from my garden. It is overgrown, very much so. The red valerian and the cornflowers are turning to seed. The mint in the herb patch is lost in undergrowth of lemon balm. The roses are dropping. Everything needs a trim. Through my window, where the picture of the Lady Chapel is placed, I see a very tall foxglove. It is as tall as I am, about six feet. There are a few flowers at the top of the stalk but below it all the earlier flowers are turning to seed. It will fall over if I don’t cut it down soon. I’ll keep it as long as I can and it has roots. There will be many more flowers from that plant in future years. I hope that is true of me and Mrs Llew.
In the garden there is a sweet smell from the rain.