‘Help!  How does one try and find one thousand words of cheer when all around is gloom?  It is grey.  It is debilitatingly dismal.  For all I know, it could be November!  It certainly looks like it and, as the days and months continue to merge into one, it all becomes increasingly irrelevant.  I’ve still got Christmas cards lying on top of a box in my bedroom which have never found a home.  No need.  Perhaps I should buy Second Class stamps, for once, and avoid the rush!

I have just returned from a walk up to the bottle bank complete in jumper, jacket and scarf.  Still cold!  Reaching the top road with its panoramic view reaching to the sea, it was a canvas of uninterrupted grey with the exception of the white froth capping the waves in the distance.  Pathetic fallacy.  How the weather affects one’s mood.  I am still amazed that the months of lockdown were blessed with such glorious weather, proving the saviour for most, myself included.  I look back on my solitary evening walks along the sand, often just as the sun was slowly sinking, casting its shadows while offering its ethereal hue.  Alone with Nature and my thoughts, that was paradise!  Paradise lost now, however, following the easing of lockdown and enforced staycations.  While Spain’s genuine locals can breathe a sigh of relief, spared the influx of drunken Brits, we’re stuck with them.  You can only imagine how much I am relishing the hoards!

The heating is on, as I write, in an attempt to take the damp chill from the air as the rain teems down outside.   The uproar surrounding exam grades continues. coldly derailing so many lives along the way.  Meantime, a world already on its knees awaits the latest spike in the next country.  Certainty is a thing of the past and one is dared to plan ahead, at once belittling the desperate need to look forward; the need to have something on which to focus.  It’s called hope …

Writing daily during the months of lockdown, I have all but run out of steam.  Enthusiasm must be fuelled by variety, the mundane its nemesis.  No theatres, no concerts, no cinema, no travelling without fear.  The beanstalk has been hacked from the roots!  The fairy dust has been replaced with washing powder.  That magical ‘Second Star to the Right’ has all but been obscured by the cloud …  Sink or swim?  Definitely not sink!  We are British, after all and we fight on.  Thankfully, I have my notes and one entry which made me smile was that re Brora, the timeless clothing brand specialising in Scottish cashmere.  Placing an online order during ‘captivity’, I came to the page requiring name and address.  Clicking on the dropdown menu for ‘Title’, the choices which appeared were Mr, Mrs, Lord, Lady, Dr to name but a few.  I cannot stress how happy that made me!  Rather than a menu relating to multiple gender or the inane steps required to confirm one is not a robot, here was an unapologetic recognition of class; a nod to a gentler, nay, more genteel past which prized individuality, abhorred name tags and believed the word ‘sheep’ denoted farm animals grazing in a field!  The Tyranny of Tolerance, today, has silenced most with the threats and aggression characteristic of those bent on an activism fuelled by self-loathing where there should be self-worth.  Nothing good comes of hatred but the strength borne of self-worth can only be found within.

The only journey that matters is the journey to the interior.’     Charles Wright.

Amazing what may be gleaned from a dropdown menu!  Amazing what can be gleaned from one’s notes.  The power of the imagination.  Never take it for granted.

In desperate need of some escapism, I have been watching a series on ITV called Inside the Ritz Hotel.  An hour of unmitigated luxury, albeit second hand!  Fittingly, it is narrated by Jim Carter, aka Carson, the butler in Downton Abbey.  Whisked inside one of the remaining bastions of tradition, it is ‘practically perfect in every way’!  The English Country House décor, the ever-present piano player, The Palm Court, world-famous home of Afternoon Tea.  It remains stoically unchanged, commanding the respect it deserves.  I was lucky enough to be taken to The Ritz for Afternoon Tea on my 21st Birthday, way back when, and I suppose I appreciate it more with the passing of time.  My children bought me the same for a significant birthday last year, aware of my love for everything the Hotel represents.  It is a pleasure yet to be savoured; another memory yet to be made.

Afternoon Tea aside, I have been to The Ritz, London several times for drinks and thrown caution to the wind.  Perhaps the most memorable occasion – and most enjoyable – was that when Becca and myself travelled down from Edinburgh for the night to attend Christie’s Exhibition of the late Audrey Hepburn’s personal belongings, pre-auction.  It was a magnificent display of her iconic dresses, scripts, jewellery and everything Audrey!  Naively, we clung to the hope of successfully bidding for her telephone – well, ours was broken – but, in the end, £17,000 was a little more than we had anticipated!  Imagine the endless joy of speaking to one’s friends on Audrey Hepburn’s phone, though … and, therein, lies our problem: an infinitely romantic perspective unable to be tethered.

In a different world – Audrey’s 1950s world – we left Christie’s that Saturday and decided to walk round to The Ritz.  There, we were shown to wonderful seats in the most wonderful of settings from whence we drank wonderful champagne and listened to wonderful music courtesy of the equally wonderful piano player.  Did I mention it was wonderful?!  Perhaps my ensuing credit card bill was not so wonderful but I can honestly say we have never had our phones charged in a more wonderful place!  A priceless memory which nobody can take away … I thank my mother for her unique, indefatigable enthusiasm for sampling the higher things in life, every now and then.  Inherited with pleasure!

I love luxury.  And luxury lies not in richness or ornateness but in the absence of vulgarity.  Vulgarity is the ugliest word in our language.  I stay in the game to fight it.’ 

Coco Chanel.

This is Trish, signing off.