Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013…

Well that’s another year done and dusted, then. Another year older and none the wiser. Thank you Santa, by the way, for sharing details via the blogs of the 12 day lead-up to Christmas in your neck of the woods. From the huge amount of feedback I’ve received (hem hem) it seems people have absolutely loved reading them, and will be waiting with baited breath for next year’s thrilling instalments, assuming, that is, that the magic lightning-stricken modem can be persuaded via a good kicking to offer a repeat performance…

Truth be told, the Santa blog, according to the WordPress stats page, has scored quite poorly in terms of hits over the past year. The “Lies” section of the site seems to have attracted the most attention, but to be fair that’s 20 pages posted over several months counting as one so it’s a bit misleading. In terms of standalone posts I was quite surprised to see that the somewhat serious “Chip Therapy”, detailing my concerns regarding the woo and snake oil surrounding interventions for autism, took first place, having anticipated that my hilarious exposés on prevailing middle-class values and attitudes in good old Tunbridge Wells in the series of posts on Grayson Perry would have had wider appeal. Ah well… I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, given that two of the points addressed in those posts were “Disgusted’s” lack of a sense of humour and his inability to see past the tip of his own upturned nose to consider the bigger picture…

I don’t know what the most popular post on the Moonfruit site was as I cannot understand or navigate Google stats, but my guess would be the one on ‘Alternative Life Coaching’ which seemed to strike a chord with many while simultaneously losing me several Twitter followers who happened to be life coaches of the non-alternative kind. I was doubly delighted to hear that a friend lost a follower by proxy just for “liking” the post on Facebook, as it confirmed everything I already believed about yer average life coach (see above re “disgusted”).

Anyhoo, enough of last year’s blogs; let’s bring you up to speed on Christmas and NY at Oddly Mansions…

Well, hasn’t this been a crappy Christmas? And I know it sounds churlish to moan about trifles like the poxy weather when there are real issues like homelessness and world poverty to be considered, but honestly, hasn’t it been a crappy one?  Not that I wanted snow or any of that Bing Crosby White Christmas / Winter Wonderland bolleaux – to be honest I dislike snow almost as much as I dislike rain once the initial novelty has worn off – but did it really have to be non-stop hissing down and ice-cold brolly-buggering winds for the whole week?

To make things worse I couldn’t shake off the horrible cold I developed in the week leading up to the festivities, which meant I spent ‘the big two’ trying to force mucus to flow in directions it patently didn’t want to flow by alternately sniffing and blowing against the tide. The sinus headache was lovely too, reminiscent of a meat cleaver being buried in my cranium every time I coughed, sneezed or farted. Which was frequently. I think the farting may have been more sprout than cold related, but that’s something of a moot point. Alcohol helped in the short term, of course, but was something of a double edged sword when it came to early mornings. LemSip helped too, but the aftertaste made the remaining snot taste like the sediment found in an all-blacks’ jockstrap at the end of a particularly fixture-heavy and brutal rugger season with no access to laundry facilities.

Thankfully I am now mostly recovered, and at least it wasn’t Norovirus, though having tempted fate and knowing my past record for luck in the area of fate-tempting the odds are I’ll be up-chucking and down-gushing by tea time. Don’t worry, I’ve just checked and we’ve got plenty of Andrex Eco, which regular readers will remember is a product I heartily endorse both for its softness and its strength. Yes, I’m still saving the world by wiping my bum, and if I do actually cop for Norovirus I may well, in the manner of Superman in the first of the Christopher Reeves movies of that franchise, actually offset my own carbon footprint to such a degree that the world, in ecological terms, will be winding backwards.

Talking of crap and Christmas, the worst present list this year is the same as every other year. For Ben it was the GAME gift card his friend regularly buys him, which basically entitles Ben to queue for at least an hour in what is undoubtedly the worst shopping environment currently available in the UK. And that includes Sports Direct and Argos. It also entitles him to pay at least 25% more for whatever item he is buying than he would pay for it in any other shop, or around 50% more than he would pay for it online. That’s assuming, of course, that they actually have the item in stock, which all previous experience suggests is about as probable as E. L. Wisty James winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. What’s more likely is that Ben will, after 30 minutes or so of disappointing browsing, just buy any old crap he can lay his hands on just to get out of the shop with something (anything) that covers the full value of the voucher so he never has to go back again. Well, until he gets the same gift again next year, that is. In a nutshell, there is only one reason why GAME continues to trade while other chains go to the wall, and that is its presence on the High Street where most grannies and granddads who haven’t got a clue about gaming habitually shop for gift cards.

My own worst present was the Boots voucher I received from a maiden aunt, though to be fair this has, over the decades, become such an integral part of my Christmas tradition that I now kind of look forward to it. Kind of. The thing is, a Boots voucher for me has about the same appeal as the GAME voucher has for Ben: anything I might have occasion to buy from Boots is generally available to me at half the price and without the need for a special journey from a local supermarket. What I generally do is save the voucher until early December and then use the money on it towards the Boots voucher I buy for the same said maiden aunt, who actually does like shopping in Boots for things like bubble baths and ‘bombs’ and whatever other strange lavender scented liquids and powders elderly ladies like to embalm themselves with. I like to think there’s a strange kind of symmetry to this exchange, and I guess, whatever way you look at it, I do get to spend the money I save on her voucher on something I actually want – i.e. alcohol – even if it does feel like I’m being stiffed.

It was quite a quiet Christmas this year as Ben and I were doing the visiting rather than having visitors. It was nice, but felt a bit strange. Given the cold and everything, though, it was probably a blessing not to be rushing round like a blue arsed fly, and on the days we weren’t busy a-visiting the “cold collations” we ate gave me plenty of time for Lemsips and power naps.

As I’m now pretty much over it we went to the cinema yesterday, to see the JACK REACHER movie I blogged about just before Christmas. I’d suggested in the blog that they draft in the seven dwarfs from a local panto as background artists to make Tom Cruise look taller, what with him being five foot seven (or so he claims, but shortarses tend to add a couple of inches, don’t they?) and Jack Reacher being six foot five, and laughed out loud (sorry for that, “lol”) on seeing a nightclub scene where quite clearly they had done precisely that. There was also a bus stop scene where they tried the same trick, but the taller actor standing behind Tom obviously forgot to bend his knees at one point. Either that, or the director had realised that “suspension of disbelief” is not the same thing as “blatant piss-taking”.

All in all it wasn’t a bad film – not great, but not bad – but TC really doesn’t measure up and I suspect no film could ever really do the books justice. It definitely was NOT worth the 2 mile car journey to/from the cinema, however, which thanks to Tunbridge Wells’ insane traffic system took an hour each way and ate up more of our afternoon than the film itself. I have told Ben no more afternoon cinema trips unless he’s willing to walk there and back, which is what we should have done in the first place…

Blimey… just noticed I’ve hit 1500 words. I’ll shut up, then.



IN OTHER NEWS: As well as acting as a conduit for the Santa Blogs I was also involved in another 12 Days of Christmas project along with friends from the Tunbridge Wells Writers group. For this we produced a series of twelve short (flash) fiction stories (including three by yours truly) all prompted by the same image. This culminated, on Christmas Eve, with publication of a free e-book containing all of the stories, which is available for download HERE.


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