Closing my eyes, I face into the sun to feel its warmth for the first time in— how long? But there’s still a cool wind, blowing across the car-park towards me from god knows where. It kisses me gently on the cheeks like an ice queen reaching out to me from Norway, Russia or even Iceland. I wrap my big grey woolen winter coat tightly around my body and flip up the collar. My look this morning is one of a lone Russian border guard, standing in the icy wastes of Siberia rather than a bored office worker standing in a car-park in Hampshire. Only the other week I put this coat away, deep into the wardrobe, and pulled out something lighter. But I was way too hasty because here it is on my back again.
I hunker down into the depths of the coat, hiding from winter’s last breath; my now cold cup of tea clutched tightly against my chest. Walking slowly round the car-park in ever bigger circles I become conscious for the first time of a pattern. Herringbone. I’ve never noticed it before, which is unusual because I always see patterns in things. I love the patterns in the weather, especially the sky. Cirrocumulus and cirrus clouds stretching as far as the eye can see, like ripples along the edge of some gigantic beach. And I see patterns in nature too. The spider webs that line the gorse bushes next to the river as I walk to work. Bathed in early morning dew and frost they are all equally spaced apart as though some spider planning office has measured each one out to a perfect distance from it neighbour. But my favourite patterns are in architecture. In the buildings that we live and work in, in brick, steel and glass.
Walking around in an ever increasing circle I eventually stop at the edge of the curb-stone. There, along the edge of the curb stones, runs a thick two inch line of green moss. The rich Sphagnum has no place here in the industrial setting, but it has scratched out a life regardless. I stand staring for a while, concentrating. Somewhere deep in my memory I remember sitting on a cold concrete pavement.
I hold a stick in my hand as I scratch out the moss from the cracks in the pavement outside a council maisonette in London. A lifetime ago. But as in most things there are patterns in our lives too, and for a moment the little boy is my grandson, K. He is sitting, digging out the moss from the cracks in the pavement, on a council estate today.
There are patterns everywhere.
All around us.
In our pasts, and our futures.