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Best laid plans

December 31, 2018

It must be said (well, I don’t know if it must be said, but I’m going to say it anyway): I think my marbles have gone missing. I don’t think they’re actually lost completely, but they have certainly been mislaid.

I had a plan, a cunning plan (pin a tail on it and call it a fox) to survive Christmas. No one was coming to stay with me. I wasn’t going to stay with anyone. Truth be told, I really didn’t mind the idea of spending Christmas Day on the sofa, swilling birthday prosecco and watching Doctor Who Christmas specials. But there was a proviso. I needed some sort of seasonal socialising. So I invited four friends over for a solstice supper and three other friends over for dinner on Christmas Eve. Then, after dinner on Christmas Eve, I could settle down on the sofa for my annual date with Alistair Sim, go to bed and just be a couch potato on Christmas day: Buck’s Fizz, eggs benny and Doctor Who. Perfect.

Let me tell you about Thursday, December 20th.

First thing in the morning, I drove my recently-turned-97-year-old neighbour Pat to the floatplane, the first leg of a Christmas and New Year’s cruise to Hawaii with his lady friend from Alberta. Then I came home and sawed down the one tree I’d left standing during the great pruning saw massacre in September.


I’d left if standing so it could be my Christmas tree this year.

I hauled it to the deck, trimmed some of the branches, then came inside to get the decorations out of the closet and set up the stand.

This was my plan for the rest of the day: get the tree up, decorate it, then have a shower before going to Dave and Jan’s for pre-Christmas appies and drinks. Lovely.

Then the power went off. Okay, there was a windstorm. There were bound to be a couple of trees down on the lines. Fine. I finished decorating the tree. Then I tried to get through to the BC Hydro help line. Engaged, engaged, engaged. I couldn’t even get through to the automated message. Hmm.

I hope you can read this, because I’m not retyping it all.

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The power came back on just before nightfall on Christmas Eve, allowing me to see the lights on the tree for the first time.

Christmas tree 2019

I was forced to have pasta with tiger prawns for dinner, as the prawns in the freezer were almost thawed and couldn’t be refrozen. I know. Tough break having to eat one of my favourite meals, but it had to be done, as did washing the meal down with prosecco. After five days without power it was pretty much mandatory.

Woke up late in the morning on Christmas Day, made a cappuccino, had a shower, decided I couldn’t face the faff of eggs benny, so it was bacon and eggs instead and, as I was now going to Jan and Dave’s for Christmas dinner, settled for Buck’s Fizz made with no alcohol bubbly. (Once you put the orange juice in it tastes the same.)

When it came to it, I decided I wasn’t in the mood for Doctor Who. Instead I opted for Die Hard. (I was astonished the first Christmas I spent with Morag and Darryl on Malcolm Island to discover that Morag was a diehard Die Hard fan, who considered the films a firm part of Christmas. Over several Christmases she somehow persuaded me. With no more Sointula Christmases on the horizon, earlier this year I’d spend $20 on a set of the first four films.)

I’d watched three of them before it was time to leave for Christmas dinner, which was lovely – both the food and the company. Home again for the fourth film and then to bed with one of my Christmas books (the new Michael Connelly), which I ended up reading until 3am. (This tends to happen to me with Connelly’s books, even when I was still going to work every day.)

I didn’t wake up until noon on Boxing Day. That’s when things went: (a) pear shaped, (b) tits up, (c) to hell in a handbasket or (d) any or all of the previous.

I made myself a cappuccino and sat down on the sofa to check Facebook and my emails. Then I decided to have a game of stupid fucking spider solitaire. Ha! Just after 4pm I realised it was getting dark, so I got dressed and went out to the woodshed and brought up firewood. Then I went back to stupid fucking spider solitaire. Bear in mind that I’d had nothing yet to eat that day. Around 7pm I realised how hungry I was, so I made myself something to eat. After I’d eaten, I decided enough already.

A friend had sent me the sixth series of  Spiral  (a French cop show) for my birthday which I hadn’t yet watched. So that would be my evening. I’d watch a couple of episodes, then go to bed with Bosch. Five minutes into the first episode I realised I must have missed season five. Well, that was no good. So I went online and ordered a copy. And then, and then I started playing stupid fucking spider solitaire again. And I played it all fucking night. I switched from spritzers to tea about six in the morning. The fire had gone out some time earlier without me noticing. I finally realised how cold I was and went to the woodshed with a torch to get some smaller pieces of wood to restart the fire. I kept playing. And playing and playing.

In the back of my head I knew I had to get off the sofa. The December meeting of the Bad Girls Book Club was that evening. (I had, of course, read the book, Flight Behaviour, in two sittings during the power failure.) But I just kept playing until it was nearly dark and I had to get to the woodshed again. I finally stopped about twenty minutes before I needed to be there and made a cheese sandwich.

Seriously, what the fuck?

I wish I could say that was the full extent of the bad news, but three nights later I did it again. Okay, on the bright side, that all-nighter did not  involve stupid fucking spider solitaire. Just television. After I’d eaten dinner. I started watching programmes I’d recorded: episodes of Vera, Endeavour and Unforgotten, all of which were an hour and a half long, two of which I’d already seen. By the time they were finished it was three in the morning. Time of bed you’d think. Or would you? Apparently I didn’t. I watched an episode of Hell on Wheels. Then I watched an episode of the mind numbingly daft Death In Paradise, which I didn’t remember recording. Then it was five in the morning. Part of my brain was actually saying, “Are you fucking kidding me?” Unfortunately the other part of my brain just shrugged.

Oh, look, there was the filming of Kevin Kline in Present Laughter that I taped on PBS months ago. Let’s watch that.

When daylight arrived I finally got off the sofa and had a shower. Then I got into bed, not to sleep (which, let’s be honest, might have been a good idea), but to do what I like to do on Sunday mornings: read the Saturday Globe and Mail in bed. Which was fine until I got to a very long piece about a very dodgy Russian businessman who was involved in the plans for Trump Tower Moscow. Not surprisingly it started putting me to sleep. But I wasn’t having that, was I? Oh, no. I moved back to the sofa and started playing spider solitaire again. Seriously? Yes, seriously.

I was still playing around three in the afternoon when a friend rang to invite me round for a cup of tea and a chat. I was going to say no, then common sense finally kicked in. I had to get myself off the frigging sofa and away from that stupid fucking game. Once again I hadn’t eaten all day, so I had to ask for a piece of toast as well as the biscuits on offer.

I don’t know how I do it. I’m certain no one at the Bad Girls meeting would have guessed that I’d had zero sleep the night before. And I’m certain my friends had no idea yesterday.

In the past five nights I’ve had three nights of sleep. Again I ask: what the fuck?

These weren’t the only all-nighters I’ve had in the past few years, but two in four nights is really something. Quite what I don’t know, but whatever it is, it ain’t good.

And so I resolve, with four hours of 2018 left in my time zone, that it will stop. I resolve that 2019  will be the year when I get my shit together.

From → Black dog diary

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