Saturday, 31 December 2016

Nana and Our Denise

In the week when the Grim Reaper took not only Star Wars' princess Leia but her mother (Debbie Reynolds) as well, I'm back in dear old London for Yuletide.

The first pleasant surprise is that we are to have an 'extra second' added to the year. It's called a 'Leap Second' and it's done to keep our clocks in time with the earth's rotation. There's a committee (quel surprise) to decide when we should all get a Leap Second, and it's based in Paris. In picturesque French fashion, the committee members are known as 'Time Lords.' In typically British fashion, the great 'bongs' of Big Ben will be slowed an extra second using a stack of old pennies balanced on the mechanism - although, to be fair, it's a way that's worked for hundreds of years.

Something else that awaits me on the doormat is my new passport. I had mine stolen earlier in the year and can't believe the lengths you have to go to, to get a new one. Of course I understand, and salute, the trouble they take in these days of rampant terrorism but it's more kerfuffle than the first time you ever got a passport.  I do like the pages inside though - rammed with intricate designs, depicting achievements in Great Britain, including of course Northern Ireland, dating back some 500 years. The engraved images portray this land's successes in invention, art, architecture and music. William Shakespeare's there, as well as artist John Constable, the Falkirk Wheel and Stephenson's Rocket.

This is the year when Britain famously left the European Union - how much that's going to affect our passports in London, both design and usage, remains to be seen.

It's also the year when we said goodbye to so many 'celebrities' - aka famous people - some tragically young. There was Ed Stewart, who had been the DJ on 'Children's Choice' throughout my childhood, David Bowie, whose early appearance in Aylesbury had us all agog; dear, funny Terry Wogan, Lady Penelope, Paul Daniels, Ronnie Corbett, Victoria Wood, Carla Lane who wrote the Liver Birds, Muhammed Ali who was called Cassius Clay when I was a gal. Jean Alexander - Hilda Ogden, Leonard Cohen, Andrew Sachs, Ian McAskill the Weather Man, Zsa Zsa Gabor and Rabbi Lionel Blue who wrote wickedly perceptive editorials long before bloggers existed, Rick Parfitt and lastly Liz Smith, which meant that the Royle Family lost Nana and our Denise in one year. This list isn't comprehensive, by the way - just those I remember, who had some sort of impact on my life.

I guess it's a fact that life, unlike a gloriously stinky Stilton cheese, doesn't get better as you get older. That's a closely guarded secret - along with the one that grief and remorse are harder to deal with when you're older and more frail yourself. A lifetime's healthy diet and yoga doesn't prevent you from losing sight or hearing, either, children.

So am I facing January 2017 growling and moaning like a bad-tempered old bat? Actually, no. There is much to rejoice in - work, which continues to fascinate, yoga (thank you Rod Stryker) and my writing which has brought fresh challenges (no less than three new commissions for the coming year). Family members still intact plus the gorgeous blessing of a new life, nine pound Charles Laurence Dunn. The sun-god has been appeased for another year, and the days grow a little lighter and a little longer with every swing of the pendulum.

Wishing you all a peaceful New Year 
And a shining 2017

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