Christmas has come and gone, again, and we have had such fun. There were a couple of lovely evenings with friends whose grown-up children were, like Lucy, home for the holidays. There were well-chosen presents, received with appreciation. And there was possibly the most successful Christmas dinner I have ever made (everything cooked; nothing burned!).
Christmas dinner, 2009
On Christmas Eve Lucy and I went to the theatre – a superb matinee production of The Misanthrope, by Molière – and on the way home we joined the carol singers in Trafalgar Square for a while and then walked down Whitehall to look at the Prime Minister’s Christmas Tree, in Downing Street – a little family tradition which goes all the way back to when Lucy was four or five.
Christmas Day was lovely: maybe we ate a little too much and maybe we drank a little too much, but in the afternoon we went for a long walk by the river Thames near Hampton Court Palace (which is quite near where we live) in the cold winter sunshine, and we saw a kingfisher. And now we have these few precious days, between Christmas and New Year, when there’s time to sit and read, to write ‘thank-you’ notes, to listen to the radio (I can’t imagine life without BBC Radio 4) and to make my daily trip to my partner’s house to feed her eccentric cat while she’s away for a few days in the frozen north (it’s really very mild and sunny right now in west London).
Talking of ‘thank-you’ notes, there are a few people I want to thank before I go:
Firstly, I want to thank the BBC World Service for inviting me back. Secondly, an equally huge thank-you to every single one of you who has posted comments on my blogs. I look forward to them and always take great care to read them thoroughly and carefully. Thank-you, again. Thirdly, I want to thank Lucy for a great Christmas and for helping me with the technology when my computer crashed while posting the last blog. Fourthly, I would like to say ‘Thank-you’ to my fellow-teacher-bloggers for their fascinating blogs (and especially to Amy for getting us all organised at the start). Fifthly, well, this is beginning to sound like one of those speeches at the Oscar ceremony – “I want to thank my parents and my teachers and all my old school friends and my pet goldfish..!” And if I don’t thank my partner she’ll sulk for a month. Oh, dear. I shouldn’t have started this thank-you business!
But before I disappear into cyber-space altogether, let me invite you to a (sort of) party. Lucy is off to Glasgow tomorrow to celebrate the New Year (Hogmanay, as they call it in Scotland) with friends, and my partner and I will be setting off for Amsterdam (so long as Eurostar is operating smoothly again). If you happen to be in central Amsterdam around midnight on New Year’s Eve why not join us in Dam Square, by the National Monument, for an impromptu glass of champagne (please bring your own – I am not a rich man!) and a chorus of Auld Lang Syne? It would be such fun to meet you (you’ll recognise me from the photo on this website). We’re staying in The Netherlands for a few days but I have to get back by 6th January because that’s when I am starting a short teaching contract (one month) here in west London.
I have no other firm plans for 2010 but I hope to spend some time in Sweden and in Norway; to write a little more and spend a little less, and to do more exercise and eat less food!
I will miss you all, but I will still keep reading the blogs from time to time. Leila (Finland), your Christmas description was delightful, and so well-written. Thank-you. Yes, Rajesh (Germany) – just do it! Kirsti (France) it is always nice to hear from such a loyal ‘fan’. Many thanks, and all the best for the New Year. Guiseppina (Italy), you’ve been trying VERY hard with the Beatles’ song titles: finally, the answers, including the answer from this blog, are posted below. A lovely warm message from Carme (Spain): many thanks.
And Felicitas, what can I say? How very kind you are. Thank you so much. I’m guessing you’re from the eastern part of Germany. Back in 1978 my late wife and I spent Christmas and New Year in what was then East Germany. We visited Magdeburg and Dresden and East Berlin, of course, and we spent New Year’s Eve in what was then called Karl-Marx Stadt. I remember it so well. There was thick, thick snow and the temperature must have been minus fifteen or so. We were staying at a large international hotel with a huge number of other foreign visitors, and there was an enormous New Year’s Eve party. I remember being grabbed by a colossal Russian woman, who spoke no English (and my Russian is limited to ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and ‘thank you very much’, which, in the circumstances was quite useful) but who ‘carried’ me on to the dance floor and insisted I dance with her all night. The band played lots of old 1960s songs, and I remember that after I had had rather a lot to drink and was getting very bruised from dancing with my new 'friend', I asked the drummer if he would mind if I joined the band for a while. He was very friendly and allowed me to sit at his drums and play while the band did some old Kinks’ and Rolling Stones’ songs. I am sure I was dreadful (I used to be a drummer in a band with some school friends, back in 1969), but nobody seemed to mind. It was a strange evening: hundreds of people who didn’t know each other and couldn’t speak each other’s language, yet we were all having such a good time together. At midnight we went outside (I was only wearing a shirt and trousers) into the snowstorm to watch fireworks. When I got back to England I had flu’ for a month!
Well, I can’t put this off any longer. It’s time to go. Thank you so much for having me.
Have a truly outrageous New Years’ Eve and a healthy, happy, comfortable and successful 2010.
All the very best from
and Lucy, of course!
Some useful words and expressions
very good indeed
a small, brightly-coloured bird (turquoise and orange) which lives near rivers and catches fish (fairly rare and very shy)
very much appreciated; valuable
a little bit crazy
If you insist on something, you say very firmly that it must be done, and refuse to change your mind.
covered in blue marks from being held too tightly
put this off
postpone this; delay this
Hidden Beatles’ song titles
The ANSWERS, at last!
In my first blog (1st December) I said I would hide one Beatles’ song title in the text of each of my following blogs. Here are the answers, but you’ll have to go back to the individual blogs to find exactly where the titles were hidden. Read carefully!
Blog 2: 9 December
Drive My Car from the album Rubber Soul, released in the UK in 1965.
Blog 3: 17 December
Here, There and Everywhere from the album Revolver, released in the UK in 1966.
Blog: 4: 24 December
I’m so tired, from the Beatles’ so-called ‘white album’, released in the UK in 1968.
Blog: 5: 28 December
Get Back, from the album Let It Be, released in the UK in 1970.
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