Missed It

I should have known better than to suggest I might stay up until 00:01 to see in the New Year. After a long day punctuated by coughing fits, the best I could do last night was to reluctantly munch a pizza at 18:30, then sit coughing until I just had to go to bed and lie down at 23:00.

So I slept through the moment, waking at 02:15 for yet another coughing fit. My first of 2023!
(Should I celebrate that moment perhaps?)

Fortunately, I was then able to go back to sleep until an hour ago.

The sun is shining in Beetley this morning, but not forecast to remain for the day. The birds are singing in the hedge outside.

At least it has stopped raining.

Normality returns

From tomorrow, the 4th of January, life goes back to normal in Beetley. Other than some different days for bin collections, the local kids go back to school, people who still go out to work (including Julie) start work again, and all shop-opening hours return to pre-Christmas times.

One of the things about geting old, at least for me, is comfort in familiarity. I don’t embrace change as I once did, (if I ever did) and like to know my routine is not disrupted. Just like my beloved dog, Ollie, I am happy with what I know.

Because of the Christmas holidays, I had to write down the bin-collection revisions on my new 2022 Sharpei calendar. I always have a calendar on my desk, and write everything I need to remember in the large box provided for each day. When you are retired, so many days merge into a blur, so I also get a lot of comfort from my calendar.

(Tech wizards please note*, I am too old to rely on a mobile phone to tell me all this stuff.)

So from tomorrow, I will be able to ring the Vet to get Ollie sorted, and ring the car mechanics to get my car sorted. I will be able to make a booking for Julie’s birthday meal on the 14th, and every service normally used will be back to normal.

That makes me very relieved.

Since Christmas Eve, I have felt as if I was in limbo. Every day was the same, just different levels of housework or cooking required. Once Julie’s birthday is celebrated on the 14th, (I have already bought the card and presents) we can relax until my birthday in March.

I have eleven months until the Christmas madness starts all over again, and I will enjoy every one of them.

Hopeful New Year

At this time of year, I usually put up an image like this one, and wish everyone a Happy New Year.

However, 2022 doesn’t look too promising. There are still rumours of war in Ukraine and Taiwan, not to mention Covid-19 mutating into so many variants they will soon run out of letters of the Greek alphabet to name them with.

But there is always hope.

Hope that no war will happen.
Hope that Covid-19 will disappear.
Hope that extremist politics and fanatical religious zealots will become a bad memory.

So I am wishing everyone a Hopeful New Year instead.

Best wishes to you all. Pete.

Getting in early

With the trend for celebrating Halloween as early as late August, and Christmas beginning in November, I thought I would stay on the bandwagon, with a New Year greeting one day early.

I have some stuff to do tomorrow, and guests for food and drinks in the evening. As I may not be around to do this on New Year’s Eve, I thought I would sort it out now.

I want to wish all readers and followers of this blog a happy, healthy, and peaceful new year for 2020.

I don’t know about you, but even typing the number 2020 seems strange to me. It feels like ‘the future’, and I am surprised to still be living in it.

Let’s hope it doesn’t fly by as fast as 2019 did.

Thinking Aloud On a Sunday

Happy New Year?

As it is the 30th of December, it’s no surprise that I woke up thinking about New Year’s Eve, and the year to come.

I have a mixed relationship with the 31st. As a child, I usually slept through it. The 1st of January was not traditionally a public holiday in England. It didn’t become one until 1974, by which time I was already 22 years old, and working. So any celebrations of New Year’s Eve were overshadowed by the knowledge of having to get up for work the next morning.

Once we got that day off, going out on the 31st became the norm. Special parties in restaurants or other venues, often going on until the early hours, sometimes travelling home in daylight. The newly-acquired rest day spent recovering from hangovers, and getting used to everything being closed.

Then I got married, and we chose the 31st as our day to wed. Something different, a day that few people ever got married on. It was so unusual, many of our friends and family suspected my first wife might be pregnant. But she wasn’t, and we just wanted to break with the tradition of a summer wedding. Our brief honeymoon in a Sussex town was notable for a party in the hotel that kept us awake most of the night. So New Year’s Eve took on an additional significance, as it became our wedding anniversary. We celebrated that for the next few years, combining the two with renewed vigour. Then I joined the London Ambulance Service.

That night is the busiest of the year for London’s emergency services. Non-stop calls from early evening, right through to the next day. If you are scheduled to work on that shift, getting it off is almost impossible. I had to forego my anniversary celebrations, instead spending my time struggling with aggressive drunks, unconscious party girls, and the outcome of traffic accidents fuelled by alcohol. For the majority of the next twenty-two years, New Year’s Eve became something to dread, rather than celebrate. And after eight of those years, my marriage ended, so anniversary celebrations were no longer on the agenda.

A few notable exceptions can be recalled. Watching the fireworks over London from Primrose Hill, standing in deep mud. An enjoyable and very drunken party, at the nearby flat of a close friend. But generally, I was either working, or doing very little to celebrate the arrival of a new year. That continues now, when we just relax after dinner, and watch the same fireworks on TV, from the comfort of our sofa 120 miles away from where they are exploding.

And as you get older, celebrating another year is not what it used to be. Anticipating being one year closer to the age of 65, 70, or 75 does not have the same allure, I assure you.

For all you younger people who are anticipating a wonderful celebration tomorrow, I wish you well, and hope that you have a great time. And for those older people who still enjoy such things, you too, of course. I will be lucky if I am still awake at midnight. 🙂


Thinking Aloud: The In-Between

This is that period we go through every year. Christmas is over, though the decorations are still up, and some presents hardly looked at. Sweet treats yet to be eaten, and some luxury snacks remain in the fridge, approaching their ‘best before’ dates.

From the 27th until the 31st we have that in-between time. Some people had to go back to work, others are off until the 2nd of January. Life goes back to normal for five days, even though the local children are still on holiday from school. Everyone is inexplicably tired. All that stress and preparation leading up to the 25th has taken its toll. No enthusiasm for trips out, even though we have been spared any rain. No desire to do much more than flop about listlessly, and only doing the bare minimum to keep the place tidy, and ourselves respectable.

With the festive season officially behind us, the anticipation is now focused on New Year’s Eve, and 2019. Not that we have any plans of course. Julie has to work from 8 until 6 on that day, so is unlikely to be feeling very celebratory by the time she gets home at 7 pm. We might manage to stay awake for the annual countdown, but it’s not guaranteed. In this house, it is far more likely that it will just be Monday.

And what of the year to come? I still can’t get over the fact that everything after 2001 has had a science-fiction feel to it. To me, born in the early 1950s, any year with a 2 in front of it is associated with people in silver suits, eating nutritional pellets as they travel in driverless flying cars. Even though none of that happened, I still feel as if I am living in a future imagined by others long dead, if only because of the number signifying the year.

As others make resolutions, and pundits make predictions, all I can think of is that it will be much the same as any year. Bins will need to be emptied, a dog will need to be walked, and at some stage, it will undoubtedly rain too hard, for too long. The gloom merchants will continue to predict the imminent end of life as we know it, Brexit will continue to be a complete mess, and people will still die in foreign wars. Only the number of the year changes, little else.

That’s the trouble with these five days ‘In between’. Too much time to think.

Thinking Aloud on Boxing Day

Seasonal Consumerism.

I am still trying to digest the large Christmas Dinner that I enjoyed, and the presents received are still in a pile where they were left after being unwrapped. Ollie got new soft toys, and still can’t decide which one he likes best. The 26th is upon us, which in England is still known as Boxing Day. Although it is a Public Holiday, all of the shops will be open at some stage, as the post-Christmas sales begin. At one time, we only had ‘January Sales’. People would anticipate bargains to be had on the second of January, often queuing overnight outside big department stores. The clever shop owners would have loss-leaders featured in the windows. Televisions for a few pounds, or a half-price mink coat. The first through the doors would grab those bargains, and feel very pleased with themselves. But such once-a-year events are long behind us.

Now we have Black Friday and Cyber Monday. They are followed rapidly by Pre-Christmas sales, and immediately after by the Boxing Day sales. Before the shops close today, they will already be tempting buyers with previews of the New Year sales that start next week. As customers rush to buy things which are supposedly reduced by up to 50%, other less happy shoppers have to see huge reductions on things that they paid full price for on the 24th. Vouchers and cash received as presents yesterday will all be spent by the time it gets dark today. Having to endure a whole day with no shops open yesterday unleashes a buying frenzy once they are all trading again.

Logging onto my emails this morning, my Yahoo account was chock-full of sale offers from companies I have used online. Amazon suggesting things I have already bought, with the friendly comment “Buy them again?”. It never seems to occur to their computerised sales adviser that I am unlikely to buy exactly the same things that I ordered last week. Cookies provide fertile ground for companies I may have glanced at fleetingly, with obscure suggestions that I might like to buy some bags of gravel for the driveway, or rubber sealant for a cracked gutter. And let’s not forget the holiday companies. Holiday adverts traditionally begin on Christmas Day here, with TV advertising full of suggestions for exotic foreign holidays, cruises, villa rentals, or Disney trips. When the UK is in the grip of gloomy weather, and we are shivering in below-freezing temperatures, the sight of a tropical beach, or someone sipping drinks by a sun-soaked swimming pool is guaranteed to make you think about escaping the winter.

So, what I woke up thinking about today was this. How long will it be before most shops are open on Christmas Day? How long before companies just cannot bear to miss just that one day of trading? Most people no longer celebrate the religious aspects of the season, and I am convinced that many bored people would like nothing better than to get to the shopping malls on the 25th, instead of watching re-runs of old kid’s films after a heavy lunch. They could get an even earlier start on the sales, and the shops would save money by having to print ‘Boxing Day’ on their banners. I am also sure that many shop staff would welcome the extra pay from working on a public holiday, and anyone who is still religious would not be forced to work.

It will be a lot like Sunday shopping, which started as an experiment, with the reduced opening hours. At first, it felt strange to go shopping on a Sunday. Now, it is one of the busiest days of the week in most supermarkets. I always used to say that I would never see Christmas Day opening in my lifetime.
Now I’m not so sure.

What do you reckon? Say within five years?

Merry Shopping!

New Year, same blog

I think I am going to be a little busy tomorrow, so I will take this early opportunity to wish all of you a very Happy New Year, for 2018. To all my loyal followers, old and new, I add my thanks too. Your tireless engagement, encouragement, and great comments always make my day, and give me the enthusiasm to continue. And to everyone who has ever read a post, but not commented, I say thanks for taking the time to do that.

2018 will hopefully be a better year for many of us. To those of you who have been unwell during the last year, I can only send my hope that your health improves. And to the many bloggers who have stopped following, or no longer blog; you are missed, but no less appreciated.

Don’t expect to see any significant changes on this blog in the coming year. After more than five years, I have settled into a certain style, and a mixed content that suits me very well. But you can expect more about Ollie, hopefully some extra photos, and of course my moans about the weather! I will no doubt continue to add some fictional stories, and keep going with my film reviews, and nostalgic songs.

As for following others, I will keep trying to do my best. To be a good follower; interested, engaged, and a part of your community. I have exceeded my self-imposed limit of 90 followed blogs this year, so have no space left to follow anyone else. However, I will try to drop in on your blogs more often, and add some comments. Let’s hope that WordPress keeps the glitches and changes to a minimum in 2018, so we can all carry on in the familiar way we enjoy so much.

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone, and my very best wishes from Beetley.
(It has stopped raining! 🙂 )

Goodbye, 2016. Please never come back

I cannot recall a time when I have ever been happier to bid farewell to a year. 2016 has been without doubt one of the worst years that I can recall. And I can recall some bad ones, I assure you.

There have been a few personal issues, that I will not be going into on a public forum. As well as that, there has also been an inordinate amount of deaths, both public, and personal too. Never has a year seen the Grim Reaper so busy. At least not one that I can remember.

On the plus side (and there isn’t much plus) we have seen people voting with their hearts for a change, and finally starting to engage in politics in a way that hasn’t been seen since 1945. Not everyone has been happy about that, on both sides of the Atlantic. But it has to be better than apathy, at least in my book.

Wars continue, religious conflicts continue. The rich get richer, the poor get poorer, and society carries on dividing in ever widening circles. It might well have been the worst year I can remember, during a relatively long life. In that respect, I wish it gone. I wish it forgotten, and disregarded by history.

So. I wish all of my readers and followers a much better year to come.
May 2017 bring you the realisation of your hopes and desires, and prove happy for you all, and your families too. May we all feel more positive, more hopeful, and less pessimistic. When the new year dawns, let us trust that it brings more positives than negatives, and delivers hope, instead of despair.

And if all else fails, we can continue to blog, to write, to post photos, and to feel part of an international community that crosses boundaries, language differences, and political opinions.

My sincere best wishes to you all. The readers, viewers, ‘likers’, and of course, the followers.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year from the quiet of Beetley, in rural England.