Happy New Year! I hope your New Year’s Eve celebrations turned out better than they did for the narrator of The Boy Who Nearly Kissed Her. I have to admit there was a fair bit of self indulgence in that story, but I really enjoyed writing it at the time: it was fun to sit back at a distance and poke fun at myself. When I was in my early teens I was every bit as hapless as the boy in the story.
I have to admit that, if there was a contest for worst month of the year, my vote would go to January. In my part of the world it’s a drab and dreary month, when my energy is at it’s lowest ebb. I won’t begin to feel better until I see the first snowdrops in February. For all you fellow winter-haters out there this week’s photo-essay, Pond Life is a collection of pictures taken at a local pond during last spring and summer. I hope it stirs up memories of warmer times.
I stopped making New Year’s resolutions ages ago because, like a lot of people, I’m chronically bad at keeping them. My past is littered with lists of good intentions that didn’t last beyond the first week in January. Like, ‘I’m going to give up drink for the next month’; or, ‘I’ll be down at the gym first thing after the bank holiday’. This year’s slightly different though. Now I don’t work for an employer, I have more time to do things, obviously, more control over what I do, and also more chance that things will just drift and nothing will happen. So it seems right that I have at least the outline of a plan for how I want the year to turn out. So here goes.
First of all I’m going to stop referring to myself as being retired: it’s not a concept that sits comfortably with me. I’ve also noticed that some people react differently to me when I tell them. Close friends and family haven’t changed, but I’ve noticed that lots of other people are quite dismissive. It’s not a universal reaction, but some people equate retirement with the onset of stupidity and it annoys me. So, if anyone asks, I’ll tell them I run this blog for a living. I don’t earn anything from it, and probably never will, but it’s what I do.
Second, I’m going be more focussed, and try not to work on too many things at once. This year I’m going to concentrate on publishing a story, essay or review every week, and one bigger, long term, project: a family history book. My sister and I are both interested in our family history and I’ve made some sporadic attempts to trace it. We were chatting earlier this year and I just happened to say that, as our relatives passed out of living memory, they did’t leave much of a trail behind. Apart from official records, which aren’t always complete and reliable, most people just disappear from view. This obviously struck a chord with my sister: she decided it would be a shame to let this happen, so we needed to do something about it.
Our solution is a family history, not necessarily a one-off book, but something more open-ended. We decided that initially each family member, living and dead, gets a brief biography. We’d also include family tree’s, photographs where we had them, and some more in-depth information about things we found really interesting. Once it’s up and running it can be expanded and updated, but at least we’d have a basic family history to pass on. I don’t ever see this as being something we’d publish but, as I tend to write about the past, and bits of my family history creeps into stories, it could be a useful source of inspiration.
The third part of my plan has surprised even me! I love music, particularly folk music, and when I was younger a lot of my time was spent playing in various orchestra’s and groups. Although I’ve still kept on playing instruments, my main one nowadays is the melodeon, I’ve not really played in public for over 20 years. I go to a local folk club most months just to listen to the musicians, but a couple of months ago I took my melodeon along and played a couple of tunes. I got a real buzz from it, so I’m now going to make it a regular thing.
So there’s the plan! I’ll keep you updated on the blog about how the music and family history is going, and there will still be the same mix of stories, photo-essays and reviews.
Enjoy Pond Life. Next week I’ll be reviewing my surprise Christmas present from Liz, Viking Fire, by Justin Hill.