For this week's Gallery, Tara has set us a novel idea. That's it. A picture inspired by a novel.
And I've found this, I think, the hardest one of all. Which is odd for a girl who takes a lot of photos and reads more books. I just didn't know where to start. Do you start with the book, and take or find a photo that represents it? But if so, which book of the thousands I've read, and hundreds I've loved? Or do you start with a photo and move from that to the book? But if so, which photo, because they are all, for me, so redolent of the time or place on which they were taken, that it is hard to associate them with anything else.
So I did both, I browsed my pictures and I dredged my memory, and I thought about the books that had stayed with me. And I found this...
It's not the greatest picture in the world. It was taken, not by me, clearly, from our roof in February 2008, when London shut down. The transport, the hubbub, even the birds, silenced under the thickest blanket of snow we'd seen for decades.
And it felt, and still feels, like Narnia. A world locked in silence and ice. Where it is always Winter but never Christmas. Words which still give me goosebumps, some twenty five years after they were first read to me.
Because I loved those books, whatever others may think of the dodgy allegory. Every one was a world of excitement: of horses chased by terrifying beasts, of water clear as glass and inhabited by wondrous creatures, of animals that spoke, of lamp-posts that grew, of grown ups who understood. Of turkish delight (whatever that was), sleeping heros, sea monsters, snakes, witches and knights. Of evil, good and everything in between.
And when I walked out into that snowy day, with L holding my hand, and when I look at that picture now, I know how Lucy felt, when she pushed through that wardrobe, past the cold silk of the fur coats, into the purer cold of the frozen world beyond. Because snow is magical, still, even at 33.
And I hope that my girls will feel that same excitement, that same transporting sense of wonder and enchantment, when I open those books with them and take them into that world. And when they do, that really will be magic.