Coming to the end of an intense and complicated year.
For so much of my life, I have assumed that whatever historical horrors lie behind us, and however we may be threatened by the complexities and conflicts of modern life, there are leaders and institutions that have been pretty much in control since my childhood, and can be relied upon. Institutions such as the Welfare State, N H S, and of course – the E U.
Clearly that is not exactly the case anymore. The Brexit tsunami has washed over us, and no-one I know is simply carrying on with normal life. In the recent general election, I like millions of others couldn`t see one leader in whom I trusted. Dame Louise Ellman, a close friend walked away from the Labour Party in dismay, as the years of anti-semitic abuse thrown at her finally broke her. Last week at a party I met a lovely woman, an actress, who told me she had Jewish friends who were in the Labour Party who still genuinely wondered if `people` had been making too much fuss about the anti-semitism claims.
What did I, being Jewish think about it all, she asked me? I told her Louise`s story.
My internal world of writing seems to be a safe place to which I can retreat. I seem to be writing short stories now. My new story `Words,` will appear on the website Jewish, in 2020.
Meanwhile it`s almost Christmas. Many months ago, Jeff was thrown unceremoniously out of the Zemel choir. (Three other people were also told to leave. They had all apparently failed to audition successfully, though the three had been singing successfully in the choir for more than 20 years!)
For his part, Jeff quickly sourced other choirs. He joined `The Joy of Singing,` a group run at Trinity Church, N12, by a talented conductor, singer, pianist Linda Perillo. And last night I attended their Christmas Concert.
As always, when I am in a Church, my thoughts dwell on the interface between the Jewish and Christian worlds, and the histories of that connection, or for many centuries disconnection.
The songs were beautiful, Linda Perillo`s exquisite piano playing serving the choir, never once challenging it.
As we stood up, at the end, and I waited for the crowd to subside so I could exit, two men in front of me began to engage in lively conversation, in Yiddish. One, an Israeli friend, the other an ex- Zemel choir member. I stood behind them in the queue and heard them exchanging phrases, words, their heads nodding eagerly. Directly above them, I saw the plain wooden cross on the high wall.
If I`d been a professional photographer I would have snapped the image. Instead, I held it in my head – until this evening. Happy Chanukah, Happy Christmas, all.