‘PROMISE you won’t tell anyone.’
As a child, these words were tantamount to law. If broken, the scandal would be unavoidable. Betrayal was simply not an option. Childhood is one of the purest times of Life. A time when a secret is treasured and happiness is normality. To this day, I have secrets locked away that were whispered to me in the corner of a playground or written to me on a scrap of paper during class. And I STILL would never breathe a word of them to anyone else.
You can’t break a promise.
Or at least, that’s what you’re brought up to believe. As you get older and life throws an array of challenges at you, you find yourself breaking promises more often than you make them. Events you swore to turn up to are forgotten; plans with friends are discarded in favour of someone ‘more important’; and whispers are shared around with anyone who happens to be listening, perhaps because conversation can otherwise be verging on dull.
Privacy is an illusion in the hustle and bustle of reality.
But there comes a time every year when a shadow of our younger selves flicker into life. As Winter settles snugly over the British countryside, a feeling of cosiness and privacy envelops people. No more casual chats in the street; coats are tugged around the face to keep lips from chapping. No more midnight strolls when you can’t sleep; why face the bite of frost when you can snuggle in the toast of a blanket and steam from a mug? We all scuttle indoors to our family and loved ones for a Sunday dinner in the warmth. The fact that the girl who is friends with your friend’s brother might be pregnant is no longer your concern or your news. Your priorities change.
And perhaps this is due to the hint of Christmas on the horizon. Lights are being strung up in the streets and the country is powering through Halloween and Bonfire Night with typical British gusto. Family and friends are clung to. There is excitement in the air.
And we taste childhood once again.
In a world that clamours all year round to have its worries heard and addressed, this is the time of year when we can all change down a gear and embrace hibernation state. The cold is a welcome respite from the chatter of gossiping teeth and the harsh intakes of breath that accompany a scandal. It is the one beautiful time of the year when the world is united in a sense of hope and family, and loyalties shift to a place of utmost importance over a steaming mug of warming cocoa.
Youth no longer seems so far away.
And as one, the population becomes hushed. Privacy reigns.