Reelin' In The Years

I’m not surprised that the word of the year has been HYGGE, a Danish word meaning comfort or cosiness because, by popular consensus this year has been more difficult than a Sudoku puzzle completed in the dark by someone who can only count up to the number eight. It’s been horrible, and I’ll be glad to see the back of it.

I’m not talking about high profile deaths of celebrities or Brexit, or even Donald Trump becoming sheriff of Dodge City, though I’d pay money to see how he keeps his comb over in place when he removes the cowboy hat.

It’s something else, something more personal. I went through my Christmas card list last week and had to cross off three relatives, including my dad, who died this year. I have also lost another three former colleagues who passed away too early, the latest just two days ago. And then, to top everything, an old school mate died last month from cancer. Someone my own age, someone I’ve known since I was four years old.

It takes a bit of adjusting when people pass on out of your life, especially when it’s someone really close. I’ve lost my mum and dad within around a year of each other and I still hear them, and talk to them, every day. I know from reading various posts on Facebook that many of my friends have had similar experiences this year and are also anxious to put the year behind them.

But in case we get too down about life, it’s important to keep a wry smile on our faces at how absurd life can be, how we can’t take all of it too seriously.

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Glasgow to speak at a dinner. The plane was delayed, then diverted after a passenger had a heart attack, and then we couldn’t take off again so I missed my engagement. The following day I took the train to Liverpool and picked up the wrong suitcase at Preston meaning, when I got to my hotel, that I had a load of someone else’s dirty washing and no clothes for work. Two disasters in two days, so was I angry with myself? Yup, but not for long. I ended up laughing at the absurdity of it all.

Then yesterday I took my family to the theatre to see the Motown musical. We sat In Jamie Oliver’s Piccadilly restaurant eating burgers and I pulled out the tickets to have a look. I let out a “you’re kidding me” that alarmed everyone around me as I’d mistakenly booked for the matinee performance which started four hours earlier and was now finished. I ran to the theatre through rush hour Christmas shoppers and a kind manager changed my tickets for the performance that was about to start, then I ran back to Jamie’s, pacified the family, and told them to hurry up.

Seeing our rush, the waitress kindly brought the bill before we’d had our main course, so I paid and asked her whether she would get the tip if I put it on my card. She said she would but not for a month or so, and Jamie’s company would take some money off it. “Don’t worry, I’ll leave a cash tip instead.” And then....in the haste to get to the theatre, and after my near miss with the tickets, I completely forgot. The poor, helpful, cheery girl got not a penny and, having been a student waiter myself, I now feel terrible.

So my apologies to the waitress, and I promise my new year resolution will be to become less forgetful and make fewer mistakes over the next twelve months.

My greetings for a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year to you all. I may be getting scatty but I know a good year on the horizon when I see one. Unless I’ve made another mistake!