In my previous blogging incarnation I wouldn’t touch one of these tagging posts with a barge pole. However, on this new one I am less tied to maintaining the fictional and grouchy persona I had developed for myself as a writing character called Bryntin back then.
Now I am full of joy and warmth and, a lot of the time, tea. Here I am free to go along with one these self-regenerating semi-viral blogging posts every now and then, when I feel like it. Then I can go back to being the real grouchy character that Bryntin, ie me, is now. I have no idea why I always turn out so cynical and grouchy, it’s just my age and being beaten a lot I think.
Anyway, this tag comes from Rachel Hill, who, I expect, does know how to use a barge pole herself because she bought and lives on a barge but is currently in India avoiding Christmas.
Please do go and have a read if you haven’t done so before. Rachel has recently undergone a successful name change operation and she has been living a fascinating and colourful life as she travels. You can share her wonder and insights about life, the places she finds herself in, the characters she is meeting and a lot about herself as she goes. I certainly always enjoy reading them.
Anyway, the questions she posed follow, which I will endeavour to answer in as honest and straightforward way as possible. Probably.
What’s been the most significant ‘moment’ of the past seven days (that you’re happy to share)?
My most significant moment of the week was yesterday when I arrived in town at 10am with no plan, shopped, finished it by 10.15am then thought to myself ‘Wow, that was a lot easier than I had feared… I wish I hadn’t paid for a whole hour of car parking now.’
Whether Mrs B is going to enjoy her gift is another thing but frankly, I can afford the £5 loss if she doesn’t and the lucky charity shop out of the fifteen that are in the High Street now gets to make a bit of cash for whatever good cause it was.
There was a brass band playing carols in the town. Fortunately, after the door closed behind me as I entered the coffee shop, I found that you couldn’t hear them at all through the thick glazing and over the sounds of the big coffee machine and so, once I found a free seat in a dark corner, I was able to enjoy the coffee and free wi-fi in relative peace to use up my car parking.
What do you least like about the Christmas-New Year period?
That there’ll be another one next year. And that sodding Slade track.
And the often used phrase ‘Merry Christmas’ in general.
There’s nothing wrong with the usual comment about the current weather, ‘Bloody cold isn’t it?’ or ‘Is this rain ever going to end?’ when someone passes you in the street or dog walking is there? For these it is acceptable just to grunt, smile, nod and pass. But if someone says Merry Christmas to me… It’s mental meltdown time for me.
The thing is, I don’t want to ‘Merry Christmas’ you too… I don’t know you… I can be merry any time I like… don’t you want me to be merry any other time? Any other time you just think it’s windy or cold or something and want me to agree, I can just grunt or something… Now I am just highly conflicted and having a breakdown.
I can’t bring myself to say the word ‘merry’ or the word ‘christmas’ but you might think I’m being rude if I don’t say anything, and I am generally nice so don’t want you to think I’m a grumpy bastard. I’m not, I just don’t do Christmas, but you don’t think there’s anyone like that do you? So I’m the one thinking anything at all about morality and trying to be honest and true to myself and not saying it when I don’t mean it but… but… well it’s not you, I mean it’s not that I don’t want you to be merry, any time but… argghhh… I’m the one now thinking anything about it at all… you just innocently said ‘Merry Christmas.’ It’s a mumbled ‘you too’ or ‘and you’ and I’m probably overthinking this whole thing aren’t I?
“Mummble mummble too… “
Anyway, apart from that , that and pretty much everything else about it really.
And what do you like most about it? (I know it’s a hard one Mr B, but there’s got to be something!)
That one appears to have something specifically aimed at me… Just for that I’m going to be serious.
Technically this one moment of ‘liking it’ does not fit in to the Christmas – New Year period. Because it happens on the stroke of midnight, New Years Eve.
Most of the time we are not out anywhere partying, normally we’re at home, having the usual glass of wine or two, possibly a game of backgammon or something but…
After a suffering a stroke some nine years ago and deciding that life, although having a Christmas in it every pigging year, was in general probably worth otherwise prolonging, I gave up smoking.
Strangely, after twenty five years or more of smoking, for me giving it up was as easy as deciding not to take milk in my tea any more ie, seemed a bit odd at first but it soon felt like the only right way. No cravings, no weight gain by replacing smoking with biscuits, no nicotine patches, just ‘was smoking, decided to stop, stopped’.
I’d had my warning and it had left some fairly significant damage, so as well as the smoking some serious changes in other ways was also due. I mostly gave alcohol a miss. One small glass of wine of an evening replaced regularly going out for ‘a few pints’.
I returned to cycling after missing it for twenty years or more while ‘other stuff’ was going on (long story, in the past now, doesn’t exist any more). It was on a static trainer at first, mostly to rehabilitate my right side into some action as it was paralysed, arm and leg, by the stroke. I also lost nearly 25 kilos of weight. After eighteen months, I was ready for cycling on the road and still enjoy it now.
But to ‘welcome in the New Year’, as the bells from the local village church ring out a celebratory peal from across the valley at midnight, and otherwise now a non-smoker, I step outside and light up a cigar for myself.
I’m not sure I really ‘enjoy it’ as such. It’s more about the fact that I can do it and I can choose to and then choose not to have another one until next year.
It marks the significance of it being another year with me still here, the passing of the mad consumption season and the joy of no more Slade and Wizzard (I don’t have to explain who they are any further do I?) or any crooners-with-sleigh-bells soundtrack to life from every-damn-where for another 48 weeks, a confirmation of the fact I can choose whether or not I smoke and that I am controlling the things that I can control well enough for now.
While I smoke the cigar, a whole year has gone since the last one and I can reflect on that year as I puff. The memories of the year glow as I reminisce, then it’s in the dead ash on the end of the cigar. I tap it and they fall away. Gradually the whole thing is gone and the whole of the past is gone too.
When I finish that cigar I may stay and appreciate the stars for a while. We have little light pollution here so if it is clear then there is nothing more humbling to really see the night sky in all its glory and put your sense of perspective in order. After that, I’ll probably be bloody cold and more often than not, wet.
Life can continue to get back to normal after that cigar, a new year can and will continue, then pass, and I may or may not achieve anything at all while it does it. But it’ll happen anyway. And hopefully I’ll have a cigar again this time next year too.
Now then, questions and nominations, for such is the way of these tagging posts. If you are tagged and don’t fancy doing it, I completely understand and will not give a toss either way. Also, I understand that you may be lying on a sofa, bloated, drunk and not up to blogging right now. There’s no rush.
Nick Claussen: NickClaussen.com
Mike Roseberry: Yardifacts
Biff: Biff Sock Pow
Cheese. Apart from Monterey Jack, which is possibly the only one I’ve heard of, do you have a favourite real American cheese you can recommend?
What do you think is a misconception or stereotype about American life that you get tired of seeing on foreign and British blogs that you itch to correct?
I live near the sea and can’t imagine my life without being able to easily get to the coasts, cliffs and beaches of Cornwall. Do you have a similar favourite outdoor place (you have great outdoor places) that you can escape to reasonably easily nearby and get in touch with nature?
That’s it then, I’ve posted more in December than I had any plans to but I’ll be signing off now until my cigar is smoked.
Which means, funnily enough, the coast is clear!