No Room at the Inn by David Swatling

As a disquieting year draws to a close, I was asked to write a few words on change and looking forward, and thereby conjured an astronomical anomaly, a childhood memory, and a roll-top talisman… as you do.

Bold Strokes Books, UK

Perhaps you’ve heard about the celestial peace offering the universe will gift us as 2020 approaches an eagerly awaited end. On December 21st – yes, the winter solstice – the planets Jupiter and Saturn align close enough in the night sky that the conjunction will appear as one ultra-bright star. Such an astronomical anomaly has not occurred in almost 800 years, back during the time of Knights Templar and the Crusades, Genghis Khan and the Mongol Empire. The phenomenon is also know as the Christmas Star, suggesting a similar (albeit apocryphal) heavenly occurrence led the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem.

This exceptional event brought back memories of my earliest experience of narrative writing. At the age of eleven or so, I wrote and staged nativity plays in our basement with my three siblings and the three daughters of close family friends. As a good Methodist boy who attended Sunday school…

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