The silence hisses, neither expectantly nor unexpectantly. And in it I start to pick out more and more noises that were too quiet for me to have attended to them before. I become intensely aware of small things happening in the space around me that I can’t see. I hear a bluebottle blundering by somewhere above. I hear the door sigh open, sigh closed. I hear the creak of wood as someone else settles into a pew. I hear the intermittent murmur of a conversation going on in the vestry. I hear the sailcloth flap of a single piece of paper being turned over up in the organ loft. I start to hear things outside the church too. A passing plane. A bird in a tree. A car’s ignition coughing awake. The patter-tap, patter-tap of a leafy branch the breeze is brushing against one of the windows. Two street drinkers arguing. Far-off motorway roar I must hear all the time and cancel from consciousness usually. Layer upon layer of near sounds and far sounds, stopping and starting according to no score, none of them predicable by me, none of them under my control. The audio assemblage of the world getting along perfectly well without me. The world sounding the same as it did before I was born, the same as it will do after I’m dead.

A lesson in letting go and observing. A great book so far: Unapologetic by Francis Spufford.