Thursday, February 14, 2008

angels of the north

Milly came home from school slightly perturbed by her school craft project. ‘Mummy’, she asked, ‘how do you make a Northumbrian cross?’ I had to confess I didn’t know so I asked my neighbour. He told me you make a Northumbrian cross by telling him Middlesbrough are a point above Newcastle in the league and just laughed, and he usually is so very helpful, sigh. I decided we should have to go to Northumberland to find a cross in situ so the girls and I jumped in the car and headed North. Soon a large figure loomed high above the road. ‘what’s that big statue of Mummy?’ asked Tilly. I looked up at the imposing sculpture which had stood on a hill and wistfully looked south down the A1 for ten years now. ‘I think she’s a London downshifter dear’, I explained, and drove some more.

Soon the A1 turned muddy as the tarmac ran out and the car got stuck in a tractor rut so we pulled off and found ourselves by the sea. This was the very coast where Christianity first arrived in this country of course, and without Aiden braving the Vikings, the scots and the tourists all those years ago we wouldn’t have anyone to chain themselves to railings outside Jerry Springer the Opera today. Pilgrims still come to this spiritual stretch of coast to this day to drive out onto the Holy Island Causeway as the tide is coming in to be baptised by the North Sea in the comfort of their own car.

There, amongst the dunes we came across the object of our quest, the ancient cross of Saint Cuthbert, leaning over with the very weight of it's antiquity but still reaching towards the heavens after all these centuries. I thought of all the weary travellers who had stood at this sacred spot and thought their holy thoughts, thought ‘I wish it wasn’t the eighth century and blogs haven’t been invented yet so I could share these profound insights I’m having right now because if I write it them a book they'll only end up in a vault in London where nobody can see them’, perhaps listened to the eerie voices of wind and the waves, then looked at their watch and wondered if they were going to miss the rush hour, then thought it’s a pity that great big castle spoils the view, damn developers, then turned their tired and sandaled toes south and bid farewell to the angels.

Soon that time came for me too. I turned to the children and smiled. I had my own angels, I thought, I didn’t need any one else’s. ‘Mummy’, said Tilly. ‘I love you too’, I said, knowing instinctively what she was going to say. ‘I need a poo’, she said. ‘Come on then’, I told them, sawing off the cross and putting it in the boot. We got in the car and shut out the wind, I typed ‘the north’, into the Satnav, and in the back of the car an angel passed.

9 comments:

Norman said...

Ah Lindisfarne, the Isle of the Four Winds. And the holy cros of...
Bamburgh?!?
And here am I, exiled from my northern homeland and in the far south, in Lancaster.
Well it is south of Shap!

Expatmum said...

Ah Rilly - stop giving me heart attacks. 12 years ago I named my first son Aidan. At the time it was considered a "lovely old Northumberland name" and the registrar at Chicago's hospital couldn't even spell it. I said A-i-d-E-n, and then as my mother screeched into the phone that that was the heathen spelling, quickly changed it to "AIDAN". And if you click on your Wiki link, it is indeed the "A" version.
Given that I'm a good Catholic girl, raised in the north east where every other church and school spells it with the A, I shouldn't have doubted myself. My biggest burden is that, having found such an original, and non-trendy name for my son, it is now number 1 on America's most popular name list for about the 4th year running. Grrrr!
Even though my grandad was Cuthbert, I simply couldn't have gone with the other two Lindisfarne monks - Bede and Cuthbert. Surely there's a limit?

Mopsa said...

Top form, Rilly, top form.

lady thinker said...

I particularly like the modern version of mobile baptism.

You have won a couple of nominations at the Bafta ceremony over on :
http://sidmouth-town.blogspot.com/2008/02/bafta-awards.html

aims said...

I too liked the mobile baptism - is it worth having a go at do you think?

Then I had to listen to an angel passed -and then I had to translate it....good lord girl - you've got me working this morning....

Mr Farty said...

Ah, The North! It's such a lovely place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there...my sympathies to you and your family.

rilly super said...

norman, thanks ever so for dropping by. My neigbour says it's just a life bouy but he's got no soul, sigh

expatmu, whata mistaka to maka! I do apologise, I'm afraid sometimes the children and my agent just don't leave the time for spelling checks. I am pleased that you visited though and just I hope you don't think I'm american, sigh

mopsa, thankyou dear, must drop by at ramblings as I have been dreadfully remiss in my blog visiting of late

ladythinker, crikey, I'll be right over..

aims, well, it might bring you closer to heaven but the sale pretty much buggers your engine, sigh

mr farty, your sincere sympthy is mush appreciated darling and it's very good to see you dear

mutterings and meanderings said...

Yet again, you come within a whisper aof M&M land and still you don't visit!

At least you didn't get stuck on the causeway - plenty of southern visitors do every year ...

@themill said...

Your neighbour is a cruel man, indeed.
Sorry I've been awol, but have written a sort of explanatory blog.
Next time you bring the girls this far north do come and stay, I'm sure my cottages would pass your exacting southern standards.....