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Another new year

January 1, 2023

The day we’re supposed to take stock and perhaps make a load of resolutions to see how many we can break within days. My stock certainly needs to be taken (away), because at the moment it has too many fucking spiders (of the solitaire variety) in it. Old habits it seems really do die hard. 

Speaking of which, my original plan for Christmas Eve was to have my friend Scott over for dinner, followed by watching Die Hard. Plan abandoned due to water situation (story for another day), so dinner and film switched to his place. Yippee kayay. (Assuming that’s how you spell it.) Came home, plugged the Christmas tree lights in, switched all the other lights off and watched A Christmas Carol. (If you have to ask which version, shame on you: there’s only one.) 

The perfect Christmas Eve, rounded off wonderfully by getting into bed with Ian Rankin. (Another story for another day.)

Christmas Day I had my friend Jean over for brunch: eggs benny with crab cakes (yum!) and non-alcoholic Buck’s Fizz. Dinner was to be at her place along with our friend David. Neither Jean nor I was bothered about presents, but David insisted there had to be some – if only small things. In the run up to the day I asked Jean if we could just get something for David and skip gifts for ourselves, as I had no idea what to get her. She came back with a suggestion of a pair of warm socks from the local charity shop, so I countered with “just give me an old jigsaw puzzle or something” (knowing she actually does jigsaws and thinking one might be a good distraction from spiders). What with being snowed in and other problems, I didn’t actually make it to the charity shop until 3pm on Christmas Eve, only to discover it was shut. Told Jean there would be no socks and she shouldn’t give me anything. She told me not to worry about it. Tried not to, but after I’d finished making the roast potatoes on Christmas Day, decided I couldn’t turn up completely empty handed if she was going to give me something. (David was easy. I’d decided as soon as he insisted on presents that I would give him a copy of Rum Do. Couldn’t do the same for Jean as I’d already given her a copy for her birthday a few years ago.) I looked around the house. A nice bowl? God, she’s already got so many things like that. Then my eye fell upon the games.

The place where I keep my never-used chess set and seldom-used backgammon, Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit. And also a couple of packs of cards. Which was when I remembered that on a previous occasion when the three of us were having dinner at her place David had suggested playing cards, but Jean had said she didn’t have any. Cards! Okay, a choice of a joke set of George Bush cards that weren’t that funny anymore or an old pack of regular cards. The latter, definitely. Dug into my bag of gift bags, found a Christmas one, put the cards in followed by some tissue paper and, voila, a gift of sorts. Turned out to be an excellent present as we ended up having a great deal of fun after dinner playing Hearts. (Battered pack has subsequently been replaced with a new one.)

One of the best things about the evening was how much it reminded me of family Christmases. My family are great card players. I still have a memory of one particular Christmas at my cousin’s place. His youngest asked me the afternoon of Christmas Eve if I wanted to play cards. I said sure, so we headed into the diningroom and started playing Knock Out Whist as an easy two person game. My uncle spotted us and came in to play, widening the number of possible games. As the afternoon wore on others joined us and games changed. Eventually I was dealt a hand, looked at it and realised I had absolutely no idea if it was a good hand or not as I’d completely lost track. “What game are we playing?” I had to ask. Turned out it was a terrible hand. Shame we couldn’t change games in the middle. Oh, well.

Okay, this wasn’t what I was planning to write about when I sat down at the computer to talk about daft resolutions, but it will do for today, the first day of the first month of a new year and the first day of a month I’d resolved to write something – anything – every day.

Happy new year.

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