Magazine article The Spectator

A Meditation

Magazine article The Spectator

A Meditation

Article excerpt

I'm at Washington airport on a book tour. My escort, an agreeable man whom I have encountered on several previous occasions, says farewell and then asks, 'Are you still writing?' I smile nervously. 'A few more years left?' he ventures, either in hope or dread, it doesn't matter.

Still. The 'still' word. 'Are you still playing tennis?' I'm not but I (still) was when I was first asked the question -- in my early sixties from memory.

'Are you still . . .' well, alive, active? It's no good replying, 'See for yourself' because that's presumably just what they haven't been able to see.

Still. Such a beautiful word. Stille Nacht, sung by Germans and English that first Christmas of the Great War before setting to, the next day, to blow each other to smithereens. Then there's the still, small voice of God, generally agreed to be the best sort of voice, which comes if you're lucky after the fire and the earthquake. …

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