Finally caught up with last week's episode of Cranford. At one point, Miss Maddy (Judi Dench) rolls a ball underneath the bed to check for men. She explains to her young companion that she has always done, since a child, for she has always 'had a horror of hands under the bed'. I know just what she means.
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Writing Christmas cards this afternoon I was overtaken by a sense of maudlin.
When I was a child, my great-grandmother lived with us. Hers was a large family and they all gathered at our house for Christmas parties. We children came in varying ages and the group I belonged to consisted, in descending age order, of Sue, Spencer, Howard, Lynne, me and John. Sue, Spencer and and Howard all died of cancer before they reached fifty.
When Howard died, Lynne phoned me (we hadn't been in touch with each other for some time for no particular reason). Neither of us said it but I think she just wanted reassurance that I was still alive. Obviously she knew that I was but she - and I - both needed some sort of normality in the face of such awfulness. If that makes any sense.
And it hit me again when looking at my Christmas card list, probably partly because we've had a card from the parents of my friend who died on Christmas Eve about 10 years ago. She was 39. Cancer again.
I knew I shouldn't have written this post.
I need a cuddle from George.