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Berwick, North Northumberland: Food-Travel-Culture-Community

Words in my window: February

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A ring at the door bell. An old friend I’ve not seen for some time. He cuts straight to the chase:

‘What does it mean, ‘ice and a slice?”.

Me: ‘Erm, hi! Yeah. What does it mean?’

Him: ‘Well, it immediately makes you think of gin and tonic, yes?’

Me: ‘I guess so’.

We may just be about to experience the Beast from the East but at the beginning of February a cold spell was also forecast. I hoped for a playful ambiguity with my first February words in my window ICE AND/A/SLICE. Also, at first glance, ICE AND looks almost likes the name of our near neighbour, Iceland (the shop not the country!).

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Valentine’s and Lent were definite cues for WHEN/HEARTS/BREAK. But boy, oh, boy did I struggle to come up with a phrase I liked and had enough letters for.  The whole process became almost too knowing. I enlisted the support of the Husband and 16-year-old. ‘Hearts will break’ was too much like a challenge, ‘Hearts are organs’ a tad provocative. Finally, I chose the elliptical ‘When hearts break’. My friend from above returned bearing chocolates. And an email arrived with a PS:

What happens when hearts break? Or what happens if, for that matter? I think we should be told!

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I think quite a lot about cancer. It’s something that happens once you’ve had it. You wonder when it will come back. You almost wish it would come back so that you can get it over and done with. Then you feel guilty because you know that, unlike many others, you’ve been given a reprieve: you’re still here and you’re cancer-free. I’m reading a marvellous book, ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ by Paul Kalanithi a neurosurgeon (who’d never smoked) diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at the age of 36. He writes beautifully and explores the connective tissues of life, death, hope and faith – literally and figuratively. How do you find who you are and the life you want to live when you know – really know – you are going to die? I guess these thoughts, along with the viciousness of news of school gunshootings, bombings of innocents in Syria etc etc and, conversely, as so often happens with streams of consciousness, the snowdrops in the garden informed LIFE/KEEPS/COMING.

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I have a lovely home. It’s warm, it’s safe. It’s mine. I’m lucky. A stroke of fate can remove all our certainties. Think Grenfell Tower. Think Migrants from shattered territories. Only today a block of flats ‘pancaked’ in Leicester.

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I’m not quite sure if my own thoughts about the words in my window come before or after I choose them. The thing is, words are so stimulating – don’t you think? Here’s some words from someone else’s window here in Berwick:

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One thought on “Words in my window: February

  1. I love your sign and its enigmatic messages. I call it “parables in 3 lines”…parables because they raise as many questions as answers and tell us so much about the things that are currently the focus of our thoughts and three lines because…

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