Thursday January 1, 2004
There were some very sore heads round here today. And sore tummies, too, if I remember rightly about over-indulgence. Here among the executive dolls houses any revelry last night was very quiet and restrained but that was because most folks were away celebrating, having left their cars at home and gone off in taxis and mini-buses to places where drinking is not so much about binge as business.
We stayed home and celebrated in our own fashion, raising our glasses at midnight not just to toast the old year and welcome the new, but to wish for good health and happiness for ourselves and friends all round the world.
Throughout the small hours and beyond an intermittent trickle of taxis and mini-buses came back bearing people rendered halt and lame by too much alcohol. And this morning, in lovely bright winter sunshine, the last of them were delivered, still much the worse for wear. It’s particularly cruel to be hung-over on a bright sunny morning, that much I do remember, and one of my neighbours looked particularly ill when he tumbled out of a taxi in mid-morning. Not just pale visaged but distinctly green of complexion. I really don’t think that’s the best way to start a new year.
We enjoyed the morning in a rather more comfortable manner, taking a late breakfast and slopping about the house until mid-day. It was beautifully mild outside so I took a turn around the garden, escorted by an anxious Dolly who clearly thought I should be indoors where I belong. Strange cat. So protective.
Then we pulled ourselves together and got about our business, Graham taking a paintbrush to the woodwork in the guestroom and I donning clothes to go out in search of milk. Just then the sky clouded over and the reason for Dolly’s anxiety became apparent—it began to rain. Miserably.
“Far more suitable weather for a hang-over,” I said.
“Not so good for you, though. Be careful out there.”
Well, I was careful, of course. It’s what I do these days. But I could probably have got by with far less care. There was next to no traffic on the roads and only one or two intrepid dog-walkers out and about.
And, when I got to the supermarket, I discovered one of the reasons for it. The place was closed. Firmly. Now, this shouldn’t have been at all surprising but when you’ve become used to shops being open twenty four hours a day, with only a minor pause on Sundays, it does come as a bit of a shock to find the lights out and the shutters down. I sat in the car park for a moment, collecting my wits among the discarded shopping trolleys and drifting litter. Then I set off in search of a small shop that might have a few groceries.
I found a place open at the back of the Texaco filling station, all dark and dank, and peopled with strangers who, while welcoming, clearly regarded me as a bit of an intruder. I got my bottle of milk, though, and returned home through deserted streets.
“It’s like a ghost town out there,” I said as I hung up my coat.
“It’s the end of the world.”
“Possibly. Not today, though. Even The Birds seem to be having a day in bed today.
* * * * *
And, finally, the best Christmas joke of the year, found among the last of the discarded detritus of the festive season:
Q. How do you start a polar bear race?