The Unexpected Year

2019 has been a hard year. Very hard. There are many reasons, but chief amongst them is the yardstick that I set myself at the start of the year. I look back at this and see that I wrote about:

  • being ill – check, that happened to me with the evil flu I’ve not had in yonks
  • Family members being ill – yup, mum is struggling with arthritis, Nan has had another episode of illness, dad is looking frail, J is struggling with his things but won’t talk about it…
  • Financial independence – baby steps to commence? Haha, that didn’t happen.
  • Death? Yes there was plenty of that, including looking into a dying man’s eyes.
  • Family members up to no good – yes, the main one here being the revelation of my oldest nephew getting his so called girlfriend pregnant. Oh, and the baby has club foot.
  • Brothers continuing to struggle – absolutely
  • No new hobbies or activities or getting out and about to do stuff. But no surprise there. Just work work work.

The hard thing is that, while some of that was expected, some of it was not. And it’s the unexpected that makes life challenging or interesting. I sit here now thinking “where did the last week go?”. I have no answer. This time last week I’d started work on tidying the office ready to go away. But I knew the time would fly by, as it’s now basically over. However, I expected this, so I’m not remotely surprised.

  • The things I didn’t expect were the hardest to deal with:
    • The deaths: J’s client and friend, several of our clients, several distant but not that distant family members.
      The financial issues – the sheer depth of the revelations earlier this year that J had got himself into were a real shock, and a hammer blow to trust between us. It’s not recovered, and I still think about it. It has definitely affected my approach to him, and I’m now far more controlling, which is not an aspect of my personality that exactly needs encouraging.
      Our relationship has been strained, and I feel it’s much harder to talk to him now, let alone any physical involvement.
      Then there was the politics, a turbulent year, filled with stress, anger, resentment and disappointment.

    But it wasn’t all bad. I’m still here, so are my family, then there’s the businesses, which are doing OK considering the inevitable decline in getting things repaired. Though we had a very quiet run up to Christmas, which was very unusual, I’m sure it’ll be fine in the New Year…

    So it’s not a total wipeout, but I’m afraid that it has to be classed as a Bad year. That means it’s two in a row. Something is wrong. And the fact that we’re all getting old and I’m losing my hair at the top now is just too much.

    Goodbye 2019. I won’t miss you.

    Christmas Corrie

    Most years I return home and have to suffer the inevitable episode of Corrie on Christmas Eve. It’s no different today. I write sitting behind the couch watching Corrie in the background having had half a Dominos pizza (not bad). Family in situ. Baileys in preparation. Modestly inebriated thanks to Nan pouring me a quadruple brandy. But the pizza is helping to mop that up.

    Rita is probably dead, but no one is really sure. She’s an institution. I don’t even watch Corrie, but in this house you have to watch it, because mum does. It’s all about the escapism so we all have to indulge. We’re trying to talk but it doesn’t matter. Rita has been around forever, just like family. But in the end, these things don’t survive…

    Maybe it’s a sign? Right now there are members of the family missing. We almost don’t even think of them, but to be fair, they wouldn’t even be here were they living here. My older Younger brother, however, is actually here. That in itself is strange. This almost seems like the most family Christmas I’ve seen in a while. But there are gaps we paper over. No other brother. No nephew. We’ve had the older sister visit with some of the other nephews. We’ve done the political debrief, we’re all gutted, we’re all in it for the long haul, and we’ll all now just avoid the news for a while till we’re ready to re-engage…

    But most of all I’m here. It’s been a quiet week. Not much work. A couple of social events. A lot of good conversation, especially political. It’s been a funny old year. The politics a disaster, but we’ve been brought closer together with the adversity. The journey went smoothly, like it does every year, and now we’re settling in for 9 days.

    J seems happy enough this time, unlike previous stressed years. We’ve had a few snips this year, and more so of late. We had a nark in the car just now as he kept turning off the media player and putting the map back on. But he very much loves my family. It’s been great over these five years to see him learn to like Christmas again. He was virulently opposed to Christmas as a concept as it was ruined by his own family. Now he’s been adopted by mine, he loves it. They love him too. We do Christmas properly in my family. We could do it better, but everyone has an idea of perfection you can never reach. It’s important to forget perfection where families are concerned. They never get there and always disappoint. But we’re miles better than what he used to suffer.

    But this will be another Christmas where no one knows we’re a couple. I don’t know how much longer we can refuse to acknowledge it in front of them all, but I think we do well at hiding it. I suspect they all know secretly, but we just don’t talk about it. In truth I don’t think I’d behave any different though. For instance, I wouldn’t want to sit by him as it’s just not something I’d be comfortable about doing in any case. We’d carry on like we are now, acting like best mates. Cos that’s what we are above all. That’s what will keep us going over the years, hopefully.

    Then we watch Father Ted. That’s been missing over the years. But we have it back this year. It’s hilarious, especially when it shouts BIZARRE IRREGULARITIES IN HIS ACCOUNT. It’s now 23 years old. We have all had the right sense of humour for it. How families can be similar over all these years apart always amuses me.

    Earlier I saw my Nan which was great. Hopefully she’ll keep going longer but she’s not as strong as she used to be. We all are grateful for each successfully navigated year for her, especially as she’s had a few worries this year with health. We all are.

    Eventually though, just like Rita, the end comes for us all. We just have to try and enjoy it. I’m not so good at that though. Nan has said we should all enjoy it more, but it’s not easy. Life is not easy now it’s all zero hours contracts.

    Meanwhile, this blog now reaches 15 years and counting. 15 years ago I sat just metres from this current spot, opening the batting on hundreds of posts of reflection. I’m a different person to then, very much so. Definitely more cheerful, but probably even more intense. And 1000% more cynical.

    Happy Christmas I suppose! We made it to another one. I’m going to enjoy it. It’s been a good start.

    Post-Election Reflection

    As someone who has always been “of the left” – Election Night, and the day after, was horrifying, but completely expected. I have long drawn the conclusion that the left has got it horribly wrong over Brexit, and was messing things up by being seen to defy the opinion expressed by the electorate, and giving off mixed messages.

    I was one of the dwindling band of so called “Lexiteers”. I just kept quiet about it.

    But the country faced a bigger choice than that. We seem to be happy to be fatalistic in our conservatism. We feel resigned to the fact that everything is in decline and don’t really want to try anything radical to improve things. I believe Brexit was in expression of that, but it was more of a lashing out than an answer. I believe the left has the answer, but as a people we are too risk averse to give it a go.

    So instead we’ll have five years, and probably ten, of Boris. I am impressed the country really doesn’t care about his obvious sociopathic tendencies and clear preference for stating “alternative facts” in the famous phrase. That’s how effective their campaign was, and how disastrous the world of social media and media false equivalence is. We lack the critical thinking skills because we just don’t have the time and want others to do it for us. We’d rather know what Laura Kuenssberg thinks and that’ll do.

    It’s all our own fault. But I wasn’t meant to be ranting. I was supposed to be reflecting…

    I feel more calm now. In the days leading up to the election I was so anxious. I don’t know why as I knew Labour would lose, but perhaps a bit of me was holding out hope. When that exit poll was published I watched for 15 mins then went to bed. I mean, why would you watch inevitable defeat? In spite of not missing a General Election since I was born, this was too much. Heart breaking was the phrase I kept using to those I actually risk talking about politics with. Vanishingly small in Toryshire.

    We’ve now suffered Tory nonsense for 9.5 years. My prediction is it will be 10 years before we see a Labour government now. By then the Blair era will be a distant memory, and I’ll be mid 40s. How depressing. That is the saddest part of all, the worry that I sit and think that my life is rapidly running out. In the past I used to think “well it’s ok because I will be able to live on past that point and see better times”. That concept is dying now, just like me, little by little…

    Here’s to the next generation. May they forgive us for what we are doing to ourselves.