“It is permitted to be joyful”

Taken in my garden in the summer – just because…

Licet esse beatis – It is permitted to be joyful

I came across this motto recently – it’s from of one of those ancient families who’ve turned their white elephant of a stately home into a self-supporting asset. It seems to me to be a necessary reminder that while all around us, including the weather, is grim and grey and dire and drear, we should remember, now and then, to laugh!

Years ago, when I was a very young mum, I took part in a cookery competition run by Woman’s Realm, a long-defunct weekly magazine for women. This entailed spending a night in a London hotel with the other eleven finalists and actually cooking my masterpiece live on TV at the Mermaid Theatre. Wendy Craig was one of the judges but I don’t remember the programme; it was one of those after-the-news magazine round-ups.

Accordingly, I left my very young baby with my very young husband and went to London, an adventure even though we only lived in Hillingdon which was on the Metropolitan Line. The other contestants were friendly and fun, years older than I was, but I spent a lot of time that evening over dinner talking to one woman in particular.

I don’t remember her name but she told me she had been in a concentration camp and showed me her tattooed number. One of the most difficult things she’d had to face in the decades following her release was that people found it impossible to believe when she said that above all the horrors, she remembered mostly the laughter, the jokes and the love of the other women. Often listeners would actually be affronted at the very idea – almost as though it was impossible that anything could have mitigated the suffering, but as she said, it’s human nature to find moments of calm, of happiness, of joy, in even the worst situations.

It’s a lesson I’ve never forgotten so, as we face a winter of political turmoil, beastly weather and Heaven knows what else, remember: It is permitted to be joyful. 

As for me, there’ve been quite a few joyful moments lately, from loving friends and family as well as fabulous reviews for my digital-only novella, Christmas at Ladywell, follow-up to the (ahem) award-winning and best-selling The House at Ladywell. Here are a few of the comments: Enchanting, magical, heart-warming, satisfying, engaging, gorgeous, charming, warm, compelling, wonderfully written and entertaining.

All of which, I hope, will make you want to read it as a Christmas treat! (And if you enjoy it, tell your friends and – if that’s your thing – a review on Amazon would be lovely!) mybook.to/ChristmasatLadywell

 As if that’s not enough, there’s a story of mine in  the fabulous anthology of stories about Richard III mybook.to/RichardIIIAnthology

Don’t forget – however horrendous the world is, there will be moments to treasure:            It is permitted to be joyful.