A different Christmas this year and maybe a sign of things to come. After decades of hosting we were invited by our Favourite Eldest Daughter and Matt (on the wrong side of the Pennines in Reddish.) Needless to say I understandably had anxiety about the meal in terms of the sprouts, bread sauce and other vital details. In the end my sleepless nights were not necessary as they knocked it out of the park. The Favourite Youngest Daughter and partner, Harry, did put in a brief appearance and we saw them the next day.
It did seem we spent a lot of the Christmas period at various traffic lights in Stockport. However, in between seeing relatives we took in the Spielberg remake of West Side Story. It has a magnificent soundtrack, captivating actors and is energetically portrayed and faithful, to a large extent, to the 1960s film original. It’s sensational and I can’t recommend it enough. By all accounts it’ll go big with the gongs when the luvvies hand them out to each other later in the year.
Another masterpiece I devoured was Disney Plus’ Get Back documentary on The Beatles. In 1969 they were recording tracks for the Let It Be album. For the month that they sat down to do this it involved a lot of fooling around, the weird sight of Yoko Ono never more than one foot away from John Lennon’s side, the dominance in terms of authority and creativity of Paul McCartney, the close and informal involvement of many others such as producer, engineers, roadies and WAGs, the continual smoking of cigarettes and, oh yes, George Harrison temporarily leaving the band. It was engrossing and better than any biography you might read about the individuals and the dynamics between them all. For musicologists or fans of the Fab Four it was compelling.
Wildlife Update: two new residents, four legged, appeared on our lake at the estate. I shoo away most four legged beasts but these were welcome. Even to the extent that a professional photographer turned up; here is a collage of the otter snaps.
Sport remains important, either doing it or following it. Leeds United are truly in the doldrums but a victory just after the New Year was hailed by the faithful as a great relief. Usually after this the fans start to lose any grip on reality and predict the possibility of great things. I’ll be happy with surviving in the Premiership. One ‘bucket list’ item is to watch England play cricket in Australia. However, it wouldn’t have been this year as we are embarrassed by their inept performance: lambs to the slaughter. I think the Aussies who relish the fight are disappointed that it’s not really a contest. From this follows all the hand wringing about what we’ve got wrong as a team. It seems to me that the players are simply exhausted and befuddled by playing so many different formats. Maybe Test cricket is irretrievably lost as the other more lucrative formats take over?
My sport had a painful moment. At the weekend, on my bicycle, I turned a corner on a road near Full Sutton and all of a sudden I’m was on the tarmac. Black ice. Given that I rode well over 5,300 miles last year riding in most weathers in every month it’s surprising that more accidents didn’t occur. The present Mrs Ives was in North Finland, with the Favourite Youngest Daughter, at the time seeking the Northern Lights (see below). By way of an evening chat I mentioned my fall and that afterwards I had picked myself up and ridden the 25 miles home. Anna told her father, Eric (incarcerated in his care home.) He reflected on my mishap and was worried as to whether I was in hospital. He rang another daughter in London who knew nothing of my tumble. She rang me in the middle of a pilates class (with 10 other folk) to pass on his concern! My wife’s movements will be more closely managed to control her use of the phone in future.
So how long will it take you to stop writing out the date as 2021 before twigging you’re a year out?