Sitting under a big old tree in some unusually warm February sun. It’s the second day of this winter heat wave, and tiny, beautiful yellow and purple crocuses are pushing their way out the ground in response, as they do every year in London. I guess we are always surrounded by metaphors for the tension and relationship between the old and new; the emergent and already-existing. Dotted around St George’s churchyard, the home of the big old tree, are these rockerys, spilling over with succulent shrubs, stones and bushes. They are sturdy and gruff rather than beautiful. These are plants that are good at surviving. I love them for their delicate toughness. On closer inspection, I see that the rockerys are constructed out of the old gravestones that would’ve covered this churchyard back in the day. There are the inscriptions… “dedicated to the memory of….”. Some are jagged and broken, some whole, all several hundred years old. I know that beneath my feet are the remains of centuries old London bodies. It is a gentle overlap of life and death, and perhaps also a gentle reminder of how at some point we must relinquish our attachments to life, to the rigidity of tradition, the solidity of headstones and graveyards, and that this process is ongoing. Whatever new worlds are fashioned now in response to the changes happening all around us will also in their time have to address the calcification into dogma and subsequent erosion. The brightest and best social systems are those which have at their heart the flexibility and responsiveness that is at the heart of evolution. “Hold your beliefs lightly” says Grayson Perry.
This can be hard. Whether it comes easily or not, I think it may be a necessity. Regardless of all that, I’d best get off my high horse and get going. The sun is behind a cloud, my hands are getting cold and the school run is calling.