Off with the old…

Wednesday December 31, 2008

I had a narrow squeak there, escaping an enforced visit to the doctor by the skin of the skin of my teeth.  I really didn’t want to go there.  I don’t suppose it’s true but there are stories of people who’ve been there, coughing away in corners, since before Christmas, waiting for attention.  Certainly, if you go there without ‘flu, you’re very liable to come away with the beginnings of a good dose.

I didn’t do anything special or clever to see it off.  I took a max-strength paracetamol/lemon/honey hot drink to bed with me, put on three layers of night clothes and an extra duvet, and snuggled down.  Woke twice during a highly fevered night to come down for more paracetamol, and to drink a half-litre of hot water.  Slept through until nine-thirty this morning–thirteen hours!–and woke feel fit and well once more, bright as a heavily tarnished button.  A couple of big mugs of coffee and a good, scrubby shower and I was ready to face the world.

I shall need to take it easy over the New Year, and especially to keep warm, but I’m more hopeful than I have been since starting out on the ‘flu game on December 4.

So, now.  What’s going on?  First, the journal.  I’ll write a paper on it sometime soon, exploring the benefits of WordPress along with the drawbacks.  As we move into 2009 I’m finding the huge backlog of archive work to be burdensome and, by switching to ‘…and no cheese’, that far from easing the load, I’ve made it worse.

So, I’m switching back to ‘journal of a writing man’, starting a new volume for 2009 and planning to make further new volumes each year for so long as I continue.  There’s a technical snag associated with making very large blogs under WordPress that stops me from simply dusting off the old files and continuing as if nothing had happened.

The archives will have to sit where they are for the time being.  They are accessible, and linked together after a fashion, but some work is needed to lick the whole into a logical set.  I’ll do it, but not yet.

Some time before writing and publishing tomorrow’s entry, I’ll slip in a big red ‘click here’ and please change your bookmarks/feed entries to:

journal of a writing man <>

The notify will of course take you straight to the new volume and entry just as it’s always done.

* * * * *

Which brings us all to the end of one year and the start of a new one.  The USA will be ringing in a new president and us inhabitants of the little house in the valley will continue making our new home fit for inspection.  God bless us all.

The only resolution I am making is to make more effort to take and post photographs of our new world.  Should have done it before but, one way and another, I think it reasonable to claim that things have been working against me.

Graham and Dolly and I are doing well.  Graham is over his ‘flu.  Dolly seems to have gone through one of those magical feline fresh starts and is fighting fit.  Me, I’m as well as can be expected.

Let’s hope we all of us do as well as can be expected in 2009.  It’s time to band together against the forces of darkness if the experts and the politicians are to be believed.  Mayhap.  One thing I do know is that us old ‘uns seem to be better equipped to face it.  Let’s do what we can to help the young ‘uns come to terms with it all, and get through it.

I shall do what I can to lighten the path.

Note: This is the last entry in this volume of my journal. Please change your bookmarks/rss details to:

journal of a writing man

where the story continues…

A little on the grumpy side

Tuesday December 30, 2008

Not feeling so great today, all gummed up and icky.  Graham says if I’m not better tomorrow I’m to go see the doctor.

Hey ho.  At least he’s getting through it, slow but sure.  If a little on the grumpy side.

Hope and experience

Monday December 29, 2008

We made our first outing since Christmas Eve today.  To Sainsbury’s, of course.

Before leaving I counted the number of days I wanted to stock for:

  1. Today
  2. Tomorrow
  3. New Year’s Eve
  4. New Year’s Day
  5. Hang-over Day

“What are you working out now?” Graham asked.

“Number of days provisions.  I want to see us through to the first real day of 2009.”

“Oh.  Alright, then.”

“Won’t it be a blessing to have everything back to normal?”

“I’m looking forward to getting back to work on the house.”

“What’s going to be first, then?”

“Hall and cloakroom floors, I think.”

“Sounds good to me.  Not until you stop coughing, though.”

“No way.  I’ll start work when I’m ready, and that’ll see the last of the cough off faster than any rotten medicine.”

“I remember it well.”

“Remember what?”

“When the balance of hope and experience worked for me in those practical proportions.”

You gotta be kidding

Sunday December 28, 2008

A little while back I noted the recently listed ‘medifact’ that a winter cold or ‘flu-associated cough is liable to last up to eight weeks.

Well, we’re half-way through that period and to my dismay I find that my cough, which had been slowly disappearing, has decided to pay a return visit.  Morning, noon and night, I seem unable just now to settle to anything before the next cough session comes along and I make a further demand on the UK supply of disposable tissues.

Hey ho.  I’ll live, but it looks like I’m in for another couple of days of less than optimum living.  Thank heavens for rum.

This evening, Graham was coughing away merrily, too, so I told him the eight week story.

“You gotta be kidding,” he spluttered.

If only.

A box of choccies

Saturday December 27, 2008

“We don’t have to go shopping today, do we?” I asked, my anxiety half-real, half-fake.

“Good heavens, no.  You don’t need anything, do you?”

“Nope.  It’s just that this is the biggest shopping day of the whole year and I didn’t want you to feel obliged to miss out on the fun.”

“Been a long time since I called that sort of thing fun.”

“S’pose so.  Any choccies left in that box?”

“Yerse.  A few.  Here, take the box and have a rummage.”

A little while later, after much rustling and several “Yum’s”, I said:  “There’s just one toffee left now.  Would you like it?”

“Not particularly.”

“Oh. That’s a shame. Here’s me wanting to see what’s in the next box but I can’t because we’ve not finished this one.”

“Give it ‘ere.”

Within seconds that last toffee was munched away to nothing but a memory and yet another reminder of how like life is to a box of choccies.

I give up

Friday December 26, 2008

Boxing day

So then.  I said to Graham a little while back:  “Has anything exciting or exceptionally amusing happened today?  Or even mildly amusing?”

“How do you mean?”

“Oh, you know, some key or other to start a journal entry.”

“Well, in that case, no.  Unless you count the lost fire appliance.”

“That wasn’t exciting.  Or amusing.  And, anyway, I didn’t see it.”

“Well, there you are then.”

I sat and thought for a while.  Then:  “I honestly don’t think I have a journal entry in me today.  Beyond:

Boxing day.
Chicken pickings for lunch.
Roast ham joint for dinner.
The Tudors and Stargate for TV.”

“Most people would say that’s pretty good for Boxing Day.” 

“Okay.  I give up.”

What did you do with the remote?

Thursday December 25, 2008

Christmas Day

Lunch was accomplished, in both senses of the word.  Half an hour late, so I got to see the Queen with a large kitchen spoon in my hand.  And, another year of cooking experience under my belt, literally, yielded the best, sweetest, tenderest roast chicken we’ve ever had.

“That was superb,” Graham said.


“No, really.  Very, very good.”

“I appreciate that, but I’m just a little too full to be enthusiastic in any real sense of the word.”

“Me too.  Tell you what, let’s leave the dishes and have a good siesta.”

And that is what we did.

Now, having picked over the chicken carcase and selected mild things from the big stack of goodies in the fridge, we’re just about flummoxed.  No good for anything at all but flopping in front of the TV.

“What did you do with the remote?” Graham asked a little while ago.

“Is Dolly on the sofa?”


“She’ll be sleeping on it, then.”

Happy Christmas, Cilfrew

Wednesday December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve

“I don’t think we’ll do this next year,” I said yesterday morning as we waited outside the giant Marks and Spencer ‘Simply Food’ tin shed store at Fforestfach.  It was dark, totally, freezing, bone-chillingly, and early, unbelievably.

“Why ever not?” Graham asked.

“Sensible blokes are still a’bed at 5:45 on a winter’s morning, and as for getting up to come shopping at 4:30, you have to be totally looney to do that.   I’m getting too old to see the adventure side of it.”

“Rubbish.  You’ll enjoy it when we get inside.”

Normally, he’d be right on that score.  Somehow, though, the mechanical nature of the operation overcame the magic for me.  Grim faced people pursuing the best oven-ready table fowl at six o’clock in the morning in a large, freezing, tin shed may have magic in it for some folks.  For me it was on the stupid, purposeless side of unpleasurable.

We got it done, though, and all our Christmas fresh food was packed in the car boot by 6:45.

“Now what?” I asked.  “Home?”

“Nope.  We need to pop over to Tesco’s to get one more present.”

“Oh. Joy. Well, perhaps their coffee shop will be open.”

“You never know.”

It wasn’t open, though, and was not going to be open until 08:00.  Through the barrier I could see sizzling hot sausages and hash browns under the hot lamps and, somewhere in the background, the aroma of tomatoes gently broiling.  The main store was open, had been all night, but refreshments there were none.  Torture.

And, yes, torture is another of those things I’m too old for.

I pushed Graham through the gift-buying stage with the promise that, if we went home, I’d cook us bacon sandwiches for a sort of breakfast.  And egg, too, if he fancied. No, not eggs, but his face went all smiley and crinkly at the prospect of bacon sandwiches.

It was still dark when we got home. The bacon sandwiches as a lure had worked, thank goodness.

“I’m going back to bed now,” I said when the munching had stopped.

“Not a bad idea at all.  I may well do the same.”

The rest of the day proceeded in much the same methodical, mechanical way, including another trip out, this time to Pontardawe.  Nice, and part of Christmas.  Just not Christmas as I like to know it.

Then, this morning, after one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had for weeks, I woke at seven-thirty, feeling really good.  Feeling fit to face the world.  Feeling like Christmas had come at last.

We had a loungie-lazy morning, slipping out to Neath for lunch and the very last of the ‘did we remember to get…’ items.  If there are any other things we forgot, they can stay forgot.

Back home, shortly before one, I poured my first Christmas drink–Corvoisier and ginger ale–and to0k it to the study window to look out over the valley and up to the mountain beyond.

“Happy Christmas, Cilfrew,” I said.  “And happy Christmas, world, too.”

Today’s post…

Tuesday December 23, 2008

… is liable to be rather late.  Possibly so late as to need to be merged into tomorrow.  You know how it is…

In partial compensation here’s my winner for Christmas card of the year.  From the ‘Guide Dogs for the Blind’ collection.


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

And with it, my best wishes to you all for Christmas and the New Year, along with my heartfelt thanks for reading along with me all through the past year, and beyond.  There’s no greater gift than the company of good friends.

Low cloud


Above the cloud line
and across the valley,
the mountain road leads up to the peak

and beyond, possibly, into the
remotest limits of the sky.

I look up, smile quietly, and
sing a song of earthbound content.

–John Bailey, December 2008, Vale of Neath