Jaqui's Daily Blog

In the Bleak Midwinter

Wasn't it just SO cold today? Even watching “Wanted Down Under” on the telly was not enough to warm us up. 


As we have just enjoyed several days of bright winter sunshine it seems a little churlish to complain that today has been a little bit greyer. I ventured out but once – to the shops – and it really was very, very cold. I kept wondering how long I could linger in each shop before people started to think I looked suspicious, and whether it would be so very, very disgraceful if I took the bus home, instead of walking, just so that I could wallow in the warmth created by fellow passengers.  I had to speak to myself really sternly about that - I’d have only been travelling one stop and I’d have had to ring the bell to stop the bus as soon as I got on.  That really would have been too silly for words. And, anyway, I might have got even colder waiting for the bus to come along than I did walking home. To be honest, that was the clincher.


Out in the garden a young friend of ours has arrived to restore some much-needed order to the overgrown trees and bushes in our back garden. He is out there, in all the cold, hacking away like a madman but somehow managing to create shapes out of our woody wilderness.  We feel quite guilty, sitting here in the warm comfort of our “living flames” gas fire, while he is out there battling the elements for our sake. We try to keep him warm with cups of coffee. Mr B makes him a bacon roll.  


There are all kinds of activities which can be carried out inside, without ever needing to venture over the door-step into the Arctic outdoors. Today I decide that I shall spend my time wisely by endeavouring to complete my Art Project. Those of you who have been reading the Daily Blog since the early days may remember what this entails. The rest of you are probably wondering, dubiously, what on earth possessed me to consider myself an artist.


The Art Project is the brainchild of a local charity, the Worthing Churches Homeless Project. I am one of 500 people who have agreed to draw, paint, sculpt – or in my case knit (!) – a portrait of one of the clients who have used the charity’s services over the past year. Well, with a month to go, and thanks to a free afternoon today, Client 41 is almost finished.  For the last month, he has been sitting on the sofa, looking extremely strange, possibly because he had no arms. I have neglected him sadly of late but today I have made amends by knitting his arms and gloves and his coat. He is starting to look presentable. His neck looks a bit scraggy so tonight I will knit him a scarf and I think I need to create cuffs for his trouser legs and coat sleeves to hide my uneven stitching.  


The problem is, how do I ensure that my portrait isn’t a caricature, a figure of fun?  Well, I’m hoping I’ve come up with an answer. I’m not even going to try to embroider the face – instead my portrait will be faceless, because that’s the way I imagine you must feel when you’re sitting in a doorway, with a scrappy rug round your shoulders and all the busy shoppers, with their minds on what to buy for dinner, passing you by without a second glance. 


Then again, one of the very few details I have been given about Client 41 is that the only thing that is keeping him going on his path to recovery it is the thought of his two children and being part of their lives again one day. So the Middle of the Darling Daughters – in between decorating Little Champ’s toy box with fishy pictures from the Finding Nemo film – is painting me a small line-portrait of two little children at play for my figure to hold.  I think – I hope – it will work.


Because it IS freezing out there, and the wind chill factor (so beloved of tv weather forecasters) is making it feel even colder. And, sadly, there are people out there in the cold tonight, with no roof over their heads, no “living flames” gas fire, no bacon roll and hot coffee to warm them up.  Thank goodness there are charities like the Worthing Churches Homeless Project, trying to raise awareness of their plight and helping people like my Client 41 to entertain the possibility that he might just be able to enjoy being a father again.


How DARE I complain about the cold!

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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