All The Diamonds

I woke up to a tentative knock on the bedroom door.  A reminder that I wasn’t in my own flat.  Quick mental search: sleepy, encased in high thread-count cotton sheets, light trickling in through unfamiliar curtains.  Yes, Bristol.  Arrived last night.  In came the boys, two Js., slowly, carefully, one with a cup of tea and the other with a round disc of chocolate covered biscuit cake, a lit candle burning valiantly in the centre of the home-made discus.  “Of course we are having it for breakfast,” what else can you say to four bright eyes, that were trained away from me and onto the main prize of the morning.  J. danced, he called it ‘The Floss’ – arms swinging, fast moving pendulums, slicing his torso from the back, then the front, then the back again.  “If I flossed my teeth like that they’d fall out,” I told him.  There were four brown paper packages tied up with sellotape. I opened each one slowly, refolding the paper as I went, taking time to examine the contents of each.  We passed around the wax melts, noses twitching and flaring in an array of nasal zumba moves as we tried to work out each scent – lavender, orange, rose?

Dizzz, dizzz; my phone, still on night time silent, had woken up and was sending tremors out into the new day.  Each time it juddered I imagined the sender on the other side, typing their 21st Century telegram into their personal telegraph machine.  Dublin, Kent, London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Ottawa (sleepless in) all say hello.  Hello, right back at you.  From way down on the Sussex coast came a message, ‘may the year ahead hold many treasures.’  I know just what she means in her gentle reminder to look for and notice the treasure; not jewels and gems and gold and silver and diamonds, but the unexpected small ones that find you – like The Floss being performed at my bedside by an uninhibited eight year old.  Or those you seek out, and provide more treasure than you could ever have imagined; as happened two nights ago, when, as part of the week that’s in it, I went to a performance in Edinburgh’s Queen’s Hall by 73 year old, legendary, Canadian singer-songwriter, Bruce Cockburn.  He walked on stage with a lop-sided gait, propping himself up on a high stool.  The years fell away from him when he slung a highly lacquered, bottle green fronted acoustic guitar across his body and started to pick the strings as though he had ten fingers.  I began to believe the apocryphal story that Eric Clapton called him, ‘the greatest living guitarist’.  One of his songs, a poetic incantation, ‘All The Diamonds’, was sung at my husband’s funeral.  Bruce didn’t sing it during his set – which was fine – he sang lots of others that I had got to know from time spent in Canada.  The audience loved him, standing when he finished, stomping the floorboards, baying for an encore.  Slowly, he lolloped back on and gave us two more, the last of which was, All The Diamonds.  The year ahead started on Wednesday night when I bagged my first treasure.

All The Diamonds, Bruce Cockburn

All the diamonds in this world

That mean anything to me

Are conjured up by wind and sunlight

Sparkling on the sea


I ran aground in a harbour town

Lost the taste for being free

Thank God He sent some gull-chased ship

To carry me to sea


Two thousand years and half a world away

Dying trees still grow greener when you pray


Silver scales flash bright and fade

In reeds along the shore

Like a pearl in sea of liquid jade

His ship comes shining

Like a crystal swan in a sky of suns

His ship comes shining

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