STAG DO

Last night, as I was driving to BBC Radio Kent to talk about my new memoir 'Tumbling Dice' with Dominic King, there was a diversion on the road to Tunbridge Wells. I suddenly found myself bumping through dense woodland to get back onto the A26, cursing myself for having taken a wrong turning. There were no other cars around.

A young deer appeared out of nowhere. He stood on the track, right in front of my car. I stopped, of course. We stared at each other. We stared for whatseemed like years, before he bounded off, back into the oaks. Had I not wandered off the beaten track so inconveniently - I made it to the studio a mere minute and a half before we went live on air - I would not have seen him.

I didn't drive back that way, but I thought about him all the way home to London. I wondered why. Witchier folk than I tend to take such things as 'signs'. But don't I do that too, sometimes? I'm the first to take a black cat crossing my path as an indication of a bit of good luck. So I quelled the urge to scorn, and I looked him up. And was surprised to learn so much about this elusive animal.

To the indigenous tribes of North America, he was a messenger. A creature of great power, he symbolised sensitivity, intuition and gentleness. In Buddhism, the deer is said to represent harmony, happiness, peace and longevity. In Chinese culture, he fetches success, prosperity, good luck, and hope. The ancient Greeks and Romans revered the goddess of the hunt - Artemis and Diana. Folk traditions of yore hold him 'deer' as caretaker of Mother Earth: a spiritual symbol, heralding good news and good fortune, especially in love.

A big animal stops bang in front of your car and you are forced to stop. Obvs. What made me interpret this as a pause for thought, a reason to halt, listen, slide out of myself?

There is an old story about Saint Eustace, the former Roman general hailed as Placido. While out on a hunt in the bleak back-then, he found himself staring directly into the eyes of a deer, and was mesmerised by their light. It blinded him 'like the light of Christ'. He believed that he heard the voice of God, and was profoundly moved. He returned home, relinquished the hunt and pagan ways, became a Christian and embarked on the path to sainthood. Who knows. Who knows.

Come Holy Week, Christians celebrate Christ's resurrection. Whatever our stance on faith, there is no harm, is there, in taking the opportunity to pause in the moment. To smile. To stop sweating the small stuff. To forgive. To feel grateful. To let go. Happy Easter, friends.





Comments