Friday, January 1, 2010

Somewhere between Christmas and the New Year I have managed to pick up a stinking cold. This is absolutely typical: I manage - through sheer bloody-mindedness, I think - to make it through most of the year unscathed, only to succumb when there are a concentration of lovely, sociable gatherings to attend and enjoy. Still, at least it's only a cold, not a recurrence of the rather debilitating virus-thing I had last year, where I spent most of the holiday week glassy-eyed and inert on the sofa.

We managed to stay up and 'see the New Year in' last night (complete with daughter #2 and her Bouncing Babba, who grumpily kept stirring in his sleep to complain about the disruption to his routine). To be quite honest, we could have easily have turned in at our normal bedtime, having snaffled our buffet supper at seven in the evening and been bored to tears by the bland TV scheduling. We did attempt some games, but by then I was feeling a bit rough and was losing my voice and was not terribly enthusiastic. However, we stuck it out and raised a glass at the as Big Ben struck the midnight hour. On retiring almost immediately after, my attention was caught through the bedroom window by a flotilla of Chinese lanterns rising silently into the night sky. The light northerly wind carried them directly over our house and it was a beautiful sight, very much like drifting, luminous jelly-fish - much nicer than the raucous fireworks that randomly punctuated the early 2010 calm.

This morning the Bright-Eyed Boy and I were up early and, having waved goodbye to #2 and baby, took our sledge to the local park where over the past couple of days I'd been eyeing up the solidly-frozen and iced-up gravel path as a makeshift competitor to the infamous Cresta bobsled Run. The B-E-B soon mastered the art of weight-shift steering and, after a couple of trial runs, managed to propel himself along a fair portion of the track at a reasonable speed. He was quite keen (against my better judgement) on trying the head-first 'skeleton bob' approach, but fortunately this proved less successful than the conventional method, to which he reverted after a couple of slower runs. It was quite tricky remaining upright, especially as I was juggling the Dog's lead and my phone-camera and trying to boost the Boy out of the 'starting gate'. Much slipping about and hilarity ensued, but I eventually managed to get some fairly good video footage and some stills, despite the Dog being sent into leaping, outraged fits by a spaniel that had the nerve to get too close. When we arrived home the B-E-B was so enthused and glowing that the Husband immediately decided to accompany us back to the park (minus the Dog, who'd had enough excitement by then) and have a go himself. The bonus to all this fun is that my cold seems to have gone into retreat, no doubt on account of all the adrenalin coursing through my bloodstream, and I feel a lot brighter. (Long may it continue to improve.) It was a fantastic way to start the year.


Anonymous said...

And a Happy New Year to you!

Sorry to hear about the cold – I too seem to get something viral every Christmastide, though thankfully this year it was just a scratchy throat that didn’t turn into anything else. As I am an asthmatic I dread colds as they often lead to chest infections and these to serious breathing problems (the net result being A&E and steroids for a week). Thankfully this hasn’t happened since 2005.

I, rhetorically, asked my partner last night when the domestic ‘Firework’ craze started on New Year’s Eve. I don’t remember it as a child; the first New Year’s party I remember fireworks being used to mark the transition from one year to another was in 1988 at a vicarage in Gipton, Leeds (where the then vicar celebrated communion using a hotdog finger roll for the bread!). From then on they became common place. However they weren’t as ubiquitous here in Hertfordshire as they were when we lived in North London – but perhaps that has something to do with population density rather than taste.

We too noticed Chinese lanterns have entered the cultural repertoire of New Year Eve revels. We stood watching them float across the tree tops from our back-garden. This morning a friend called who had spent the evening in Brighton and he told me Chinese Lanterns were the new vogue on Brighton beach. No doubt they will now become a staple part of the ‘event’ for many people. There’s another PhD thesis waiting be written – on how this fashion entered our cultural vocabulary (making an educated guess, I would suggest it is something introduced by people who have at sometime enjoyed their Christmas & New Year celebrations holidaying in Thailand or the like); and of its meaning and spirituality (for the practice has a sacramental dimension, of that there seems no doubt).

As usual, we didn’t really do anything special to mark the change of year, except drink Buck’s Fizz with our evening meal, as we happen to have had a bottle left over from Christmas. My partner (who always works New Year’s Day) toddled to bed at 12.30am and I pitched myself in the living room with a bottle of single malt and chose a DVD from our collection. I watched the director’s cut of Amadeus (my partner is a big fan of Peter Shaffer), wearing headphones and imbibed a few, small glasses of whisky. I had forgotten what a good film it is and went to bed in rather a contented mood! A good way to savour the opening hours of a New Year.

I am now psyching myself up to write a 1,000 words of a 20,000 word draft I have to present of the first two chapters of my thesis later this month. Though I have a headache and slight nausea – from two glasses of scotch, a sign of getting older and of the fact alcohol is a pleasant accompaniment, but my days of serious drinking are, thankfully, well and truly over!

We have no snow of any substance now, bar a few patches of impacted ice here and there. Your morning the park sounds fun! I hope the symptoms of your cold remain at bay!

Happy New Year


Anonymous said...

I hope you feel much better soon, and have a very Happy New Year!

Hypatia said...

Londonlad - And a Happy New Year to you!
Good luck with your draft chapters - this is something that I'll have to do later in the year (because I did the first year of my PhD as part-time study) and I'm not looking forward to it. I've actually decided I'm going to cut out alcohol completely for a while to give my liver and brain cells a chance to get going again. Like you, I don't seem to be as resilient as I used to be when it comes to drinking.
I think you're right about the absorption of new ritual into popular culture - I ALWAYS think this when I pass those 'wayside shrines' of flowers/teddy bears lashed to railings where some unfortunate has expired as a result of an RTA. The result of a largely secular society, maybe?

Thank you. I am much better now. A Happy New Year to you too!