[Archived from A Writer’s Diary]
One of the main influences on A Writer’s Diary – perhaps one you haven’t heard of – is R.F.Langley’s Journals.
Langley was an English poet (1938-2011) and schoolteacher. Brilliant at both. His son, Eric, is also a fine poet.
R.F. Langley’s Journals were often written in situ, just like the plein air painting of an Impressionist. He’d sit in an empty church, or in front of a painting, and pay heed.
That’s what I’ve tried to do in my diary. Sit by myself and pay close attention to what’s going on.
In this particular entry, though, Langley is in company.
From exactly eighteen years ago (on the day this was originally posted), it’s some of the most wonderfully Christmassy writing I can think of.
A gift –
21 December 2003
We pulled into the Victoria at Earl Soham on our way home, to set the holiday on its way. There was a fire in that peculiar fireplace in between the two rooms, with the picture of Queen Victoria, leaning on her elbow, over it. A couple of people were eating. Then four musicians came bundling in, with a tuba, a euphonium and two cornets. They played carols from the Salvation Army Brass Band Selection, just to us, because the others had finished their meal and gone, quickly, because their dog did not like the music. In the Deep Midwinter, Once in Royal David’s City, played quite softly in the enclosed space, trembling the tight volume of air. Christmas. Snow on snow. Long ago. A sweet tearfulness, as if a neglected door were standing open, to your surprise, and a very well-trodden path was immediately outside and would be glad to be trodden on again.