The year of near misses

I’m in my retreat now.  No going out to share the roads with others.  No negotiating supermarket aisles with the masses.  Just me, Penny, Jafer, Kenan, the television, IPod, food and drink to look forward to.  And it’s what I need.  I’ve been poorly all week.  Monday was a day for coughing, Tuesday for perfecting my deep gravelly Tom Jones impersonation.  The coughing returned at nights so I could keep Penny awake and limit my sleep.  Back to work on Thursday but only to tie things up and ask for Friday off.  Yesterday and today my voice is at falsetto range, perfect for impersonating the Bee Gees.  But that’s it.  I can shut out the outside world.  Except I’m addicted to news.  On my phone, on my radio and on my television.  I won’t dwell on it until next time except to urge that that you all stay safe, warm and remember how lucky you are.  Of course anything could happen anywhere.  No one expected to get run over doing their Christmas shopping in Berlin.

I wanted to reflect on the highs and lows in a personal sense.  Reasons to be cheerful;

  1. I have two boys who are doing well navigating their way through life.
  2. And this autumn Aydin and Eliz left home to attend university.  I wish them well and am optimistic for them.
  3. Laura and Taner added Esmae to our family.  It’s nice to be in the toy section of department stores again looking for presents.
  4. Myself and Penny went to Amsterdam in the winter to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary.  I feel lucky to have met Penny and look forward to the next 25 years.
  5. We travelled around Scotland and met up with Sarah’s mum and Heather whilst in Edinburgh.
  6. We have had the pleasure of meeting up with friends including John, Richard and Lesley and Debbie and Steve.  In January I met up with my mates from school and adolescent years, Ben, Yat, John and Andreas.

The lows have been the loss of friends and clients I’ve known and worked with over the past 12 years.  I’ve attended 9 funerals in the past year and hope its a while till I go back to Hastings Crem.  On Monday I’ll be thinking about Terry, my surrogate dad, who died a year ago on Boxing Day last year, alone in his flat.   I had spoken to him five days previously and made tentative arrangements to meet up in the new year.  Please, please, please stay in touch with friends and family.  Don’t wait for them to make the effort.  Don’t regret what you could have done.  Do it.

I wanted to hand out my annual awards.  These carry no weight and mean nothing to the recipients.  They are just my subjective appreciation of artists who enlightened my life this year.

Best discovered act: Protoje.  A Jamaican reggae act.  Not a new act.  Just new to me.  This is a track from their lp of last year, Who Knows.

Best LP; I have been seeking opinions of others on this subject and no two people have suggested the same collection of tracks.  I would say at the moment my favourite LP of the year is Can’t Touch Us Now by Madness.  But the following acts also put out good stuff this year, ABC, Emeli Sande, Michael Kiwanuka, Peter Doherty, The Rifles and The Wedding Present.

Most missed soul act; Sharon Jones.  She left many fine LPs but not around to record any more.

Best new soul act; I would have to say that this year St. Paul and the Broken Bones are worth a listen but they don’t excite me quite as much as last years winner, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.

Best ‘comeback’ LP – easily the new one by The Pretenders.  Chrissie Hynde has still got it.

Still awaited LP – I’m impatient for new LP’s by Future Islands and Alvvays.  Last year I selected Dexy’s and the new LP when it did come out was a selection of covers.  A little disappointing but I’m sure we’ve not heard the last of Kevin Rowland.

Best things on telly – I can’t think of anything new I really got into.  Which either says something about me or the tv companies.  But I’ve continued to enjoy Strictly, the Olympics and the football.  Happy Valley and The Missing were good too.

Best experience – my investigative work paid off and I located Rob via Facebook in Australia and had a lovely telephone call with him this Autumn.  The life story project goes on.

Most embarrassing near miss – that would be last week when I was at the Brighton Dome seeing Paul Weller and others.  Needing to use the loo, I hurried in, unbuckled my belt, pulled my zip down and was just about to relieve myself when someone next to me said ‘mate, this is a sink’.  And so it was.  Stainless steel, and low lying, but definitely a trough for washing your hands.  I hadn’t noticed the taps and soap dispenser.

I had another near miss involving toilets at a petrol station that I can’t possibly reveal.  My bladder is going to get me into trouble one day.

Biggest disappointment – I don’t have a problem with democracy, I don’t mind having a minority view.  I accept the vote to leave the EU and Donald Trump’s victory, even if Hilary did poll two million more votes than he did.  But the increasing hostility to refugees and immigrants is profoundly disturbing.

Things I recommend –  staying connected with friends and family

Have a great week, whatever you are and wherever you are.

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