Christmas 2007

The more things change, the more they’ll never be the same again. That’s philosophy, that is.

January 2007: Mum became ill due to NHS incompetence – they put her on a high dose of steroids, lost her notes, and forgot to take her off the steroids. She became bed-bound and very poorly and this started off a chain of events, whereby I moved Mum and Dad down to Oxfordshire. After a further move, I got them into the same place; under the same roof for the first time in 8 years. Sounds so simple, yet it was the most complex and frustrating bit of negotiation and administration that I have been involved in; taking months and months of phone calls, letters, visits and emails, all ongoing. Unbelievably complex. Mum now lives in Wantage and the house in Whitley Bay is being sold in order to pay the enormous costs.

My Dad died in August. What a lovely man he was. Gentle, patient, loving and kind. Kids often say that their Dad is the best Dad in world. Well, Frank Hill actually was the best Dad in the world. And he was bigger than your Dad.

So this year we’re just having my Mum for Christmas dinner; it’s cheaper than turkey. Yes, the old ones are definitely the best.

Annie and I have seen big changes in our music and dance this year. Annie left Cornucopia, as during the 18 months she was with them, she wasn’t given the opportunity to dance in public with them and so we have both joined The Vale Islanders. Annie was dancing in public after only a couple of weeks, so that was brilliant. Even yours truly has danced in public (not a pretty sight). (I just read out that last bit to Annie and she said that my dancing was like poetry in motion – she must be thinking of William McGonigal). I still play in the Cornucopia band and enjoy it as much as ever.

The Vale Islanders perform 17 century dance wearing period costume. So my dream has come true… errr… I mean Annie’s dream has come true – we get to dress up. I am particularly fond of my giant bloomers. Some folk call them breeches but I know bloomers when I see them. Ha!

I got a lovely email from local folk band Pandemonium asking me if I’d like to join them. How good is that? I had already played with them as a stand-in, so I jumped at the chance. They are lovely people and most excellent musicians. How do I get away with it? He he. I also occasionally play electric bass for another local band Scratch ‘n’ Sniff. This time folk rock. Perfik!

Holidays: Annie and I went to Norway to stay with Ragnhild. Lovely person, lovely country, lovely holiday. Thanks Ragnhild – I can still picture you cooking sausages outside of your cabin in the woods, in the middle of a snow blizzard, and chuckle as you and the fire gradually disappear into the melting snow. Good sausages though!

Looks like Jamie’s gonna join the Army in February. No, I don’t want him to, cos he’s too precious to me, but of course we’ll support him in every way possible. He still leads worship at church and as ever, it’s a real privilege for me to be able to accompany him.

Joe appeared as Captain on University Challenge. His team from SOAS beat Oxford in the 1st round but were defeated in the 2nd round. Yah boo sucks to the retards (you know who you are) who made disparaging comments about the second match, just because it wasn’t a victory. Truth is – both were excellent and well-fought matches with fine leadership. Well done Joe.

Vicki started at Reading University and within only a few weeks, she had borrowed our car and crashed it. Student life clearly suits her. Mind you, it wasn’t like that in my day. We knew how to write a car off, not merely cause hundreds of pounds worth of damage. Grrrr.

Gordon continues to do well at Oxpens College and has landed a cool job at Sainsburys. Boring work maybe, but good money with which to buy his Dad a really good Christmas present. Note to self: make sure Gordon reads this.

Rob. Finished school and started work. He is a trainee panel beater, which as far as I can work out, involves the beating of panels in exchange for a very small amount of money. He smells of engine oil and that’s always a good thing in a growing lad.

And so AJ is the only one left at school. She no longer wants to be a vet on account of the fact that vets have to work really hard, pass all their exams and get A’s. Working hard could have got in the way of her social life, but she came to her senses, and now spends her spare time (ie all waking hours) putting stuff on her face. Hmmm. That sounds like hard work too.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Yo ho ho and a bottle of port, with a side order of blue cheese (hint, hint)