Thursday, December 31, 2009

Too Soon?

It may be a heretical admission but I really enjoyed those five days away from the computer. Just that alone made for a strangely relaxing experience. And while there were a few ups and downs due to familial concerns, it meant that this year, rather surprisingly, Christmas wasn’t that bad overall.

The unfavourable weather conditions meant that the trek west took far longer than expected but at least I had the book to bury my head in and there wasn’t some doofus onboard with a strip of blue touch–paper sticking out of his trouser leg looking to ruin the whole journey for everyone. While I thought I had it bad with the ear infection, it was easily trumped by my father having been into hospital the day before I pitched up so the surgeon could cut close to a dozen tiny suspected skin cancers from his back.

Pulling up the shirt to reveal the multiple dressings, he looked like Sonny Corleone at the tollbooth. I suppose this was the shitty payback for retiring in his early fifties and then pissing off to live in sunnier climes for well over a decade. Added to the new drug trial in an ongoing endeavour to contain the prostate cancer he was certainly taking any number of body blows. To go under the surgeon’s knife in the Christmas week; that goes well beyond the whole naughty or nice deal, instead rocketing you to the top of Santa’s shit list. What a total white–bearded bastard!

Early afternoon on Christmas Day, my sister and I snuck out into her garden for a crafty gasper to try and get our heads around what was going to happen. But for my folks – now just reaching their eighties – the mindset seemed to be keep calm and carry on. Illness aside, the pair still remain particularly vital, keeping active by regularly playing tennis, bowls and bridge, as well as nailing the cryptic crossword in the broadsheet on a daily basis.

After that recent operation, the old man’s biggest grievance was that he had to step away from his regular early–morning rounds of golf. Since me and sis didn’t get anywhere in the first of what will no doubt be many conversations, the big Christmas Day panic was that her husband accidentally pre-heated the wrong oven for the big bird to go in, thereby pushing dinner back by half an hour. She gave him merry hell. We almost gave him a medal.

Typically the television for the festive period was predominantly rubbish so we didn’t watch much. Worst was Victoria Wood’s Midlife Christmas, which we sat stony faced throughout waiting, fruitlessly, for some semblance of a joke. Best was a repeat of The Morecambe and Wise Christmas Special from 1973, which says a lot about the quality of current television. Runner up was BBC Four Christmas Session: Fire and Ice on Christmas Eve in which contemporary folk artists performed a variety of ballads and seasonal songs before an invited audience at Shoreditch Town Hall.

Once various relatives had come and gone, stopping by for long lunches and walks along the front, the festivities were over and it was time to move on. Just to show how quickly we were done with Christmas, early Tuesday morning before making my way onto the station platform I dropped by the newsagent to pick up a paper for the journey back to London. As I waited to pay I noticed a small stand beside the counter promoting a range of chocolate bunnies. Already?!


At 10:05 am, Blogger Stephen Gallagher said...

My respect and admiration for Victoria Wood knows no bounds, but her heart clearly wasn't in it. I felt the spark in one gag -- "If you're going to smirk, do it outside" -- and in the surreal Apprentice-based dance sequence, and that was it.

The big finale was an over-produced retread of a number done done better, and with real engagement, the first time around. And all the Julie Walters material was just empty calories.

From interviews she's read, my daughter has a theory that VW is seriously unhappy with herself. Which, in the light of her towering career, is a shame.

At 8:05 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

It was the one Christmas show we were really looking for, simply because it was Victoria Wood back on television for the first time in ages, which is why it was so utterly disappointing.

To be honest I don’t remember the Apprentice-based dance sequence at all but there was one point where I was really struggling to stay awake so it might have been during that sketch. Once my folks nodded off I’d then find myself looking over and waiting to see their chests move to make sure they were still breathing, which was probably an absurd thing to do, but then my sister had put all these worries in my head.

It’s a great shame if Victoria Wood is unhappy with herself, especially since she has such real talent that is currently unequalled.


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