So, here I am in 2016, with a cup of peppermint tea and some yoghurt, fruit and nuts for breakfast, the usual habits of somebody into the second day of January and determined to end the year as a sleek, intelligent, fit, attractive man. Lady Barton St Mary suggests this would only be possible if I had a body transplant. And possibly a head transplant as well. Oh, and if this does occur, could it be George Clooney or Carlos Acosta’s head and body?
Talking of Carlos Acosta, the year started well with a visit to Covent Garden in February to with my lovely niece Lady Fairfield and her husband Young Mr Raggett to see Swan Lake – I think. At my age, I can remember things like what football team my school mate supported in 1967, but not the ballet I saw. It was Chelsea, by the way; the football team, not the ballet.
More ballet in March, when Lady BSM, The Sexton, Pen and I saw Matthew Bourne’s interpretation of Edward Scissorhands at The Millennium Centre in Swansea. Yes, The Sexton travelled to Swansea to watch ballet, although he seemed a little nervous about his rugby club finding out what he was doing that night. It was a fantastic production – I’ve never seen the film, but followed the story quite easily. A triumph, although I’m not sure that The Sexton is quite ready for a cravat and burgundy blazer.
Nearer home, we saw a tremendous production called War Songs 19:14 – 19:18. Our old friend Lee-Oh! had collaborated with musical producer George Moorey to create two pieces of music based on the poetry of Glouceestershire war poet Ivor Gurney. Cleverly, one piece was 19 minutes, 14 seconds long and the other 19 minutes, 18 seconds long. It was a great night – if you want to know more, got to http://www.warsongs.co.uk/
It’s been a busy year – looking back, it’s been a bit of a nostalgia trip – this may be because Lady BSM and I celebrated 30 years of marriage, quite an emotional landmark. I know when I reminded Lady BSM she’d spent most of her life with me, she was so emotional she cried for days, muttering “why me?” between sobs.
I also attended a Wombats concert with Miss Katherine and Master Johnny, who had bought the ticket for me for Christmas. I love The Wombats; we saw them the day before their latest album Glitterball was released and this would be my album of the year.
The nostalgia trip started with Al Stewart at The Albert Hall, surrounded by similarly ageing musos enjoying a live performance of Year of the Cat. Al is quite elderly now and from his chats with the audience, still thinks that we are living in 1974.
Sting and Paul Simon in Birmingham served up a 3 hour treat – the latest little and large partnership, Sting ably sang the Art Garfunkel parts. They took turns on the stage between the double act. When Sting sang ‘Shape of My Heart’ the tears flowed down my face.
“It’s a good job The Sexton isn’t here, you big softy,” said Lady BSM, almost proudly.
Elton John belted out all his hits at Kingsholm before rounding on a rather over enthusiastic steward who was battling a prat in the audience. It made all the tabloids but turned out alright in the end.
We saw Paul McCartney – one of the few times in my life when I’ve been awestruck. I suddenly understood why all those black and white films of girls screaming and clawing their faces at Beatles concerts did what they did. I did manage to refrain from doing this. He was brilliant.
The Proclaimers played at The Malvern Theatre and provided a brilliant evening of fun – I’d forgotten how big and Scottish they are.
The final concert of the year was Frank Turner – the old Etonian punk/folk singer, whipping the audience into a frenzy at Colston Hall in Bristol. We managed to find a seat in the unreserved section. For some reason, Miss Katherine and Master Johnny stayed with us, whereas if I were their age, I would have been pushing for the front and the opportunity to pogo, but not these days, not with these knees.
On the films (movies) side, it’s been quiet. We’ve only been to the pictures twice this year as far as I can remember. James Bond: Spectre and Star Wars only last week.
They were both fun and as my mother used to say, quite far-fetched. Daniel Craig has managed to keep his aging body in terrific shape, although I feel he may have overdone it in the gym. He used to be a terrific clothes horse, but with all those muscles and large shoulders, he looks a little bit like a chimp in a suit. Still, if you can brutally murder two men before forcing yourself sexually on an attractive Italian middle-aged woman, who am I to judge.
Star Wars was more fun, a sort of re-make of one of the old Star Wars films – Return of the Jedi? In this one, a really clever independent young lady called Ray (?) joins up with a stormtrooper who doesn’t want to be a stormtrooper. Observing the similarities between ‘The First Order’ and ‘The Third Reich’ I can understand why a young black man may wish to distance himself from a neo –nazi organisation.
Anyway, they find Indiana Jones and that big muppet who looks like sweep from Sooty and Sweep and with help from Princess Leia who isn’t called Princess Leia any more, having lost the Danish pastries she used to have for ears, they all did their best to find
Gandalf before it was too late and Snape killed them all. I may have been distracted. What you have to remember is that Star Wars, like Harry Potter and Lord of the Hobbits are all children’s films. Our choice of old family favourite for Christmas is Reservoir Dogs. We excitedly await the release of ‘The H8teful Eight’.
Lisbon was magnificent – reasonably priced, great food and a hop on, hop off bus tour that is perfect for fat middle aged men wishing to sleep off a long leisurely lunch. It got better when we travelled to Setubal to spend a week with all of Lady BSM’s family in an old farmhouse, definitely something I’d be up for doing again. Don’t go to the Algarve, go to Lisbon/Setubal.
Alarmingly, my race participation was reduced to just one half marathon in the Forest of Dean – this is where I convinced a young female runner I’d had the top half of my leg amputated but kept the lower half.
More significantly, I’ve become a qualified football referee, meaning I can travel to different grounds around Gloucestershire on a Saturday afternoon to be constantly undermined, questioned and shouted at. I thoroughly enjoy it. By March, I should have completed my training, taken my exam and been promoted a level.
A year for daddy Daves – DaveJohnDaveJohnDave and Mathilde started the year with twins – Josephine and Antoine.
The year ended with my nephew Dave and his wife Kirsty welcoming Daisy, their first child, so very exciting for them and satisfying for all other parents, who are happy that another couple will go through sleep deprivation, a need to watch the latest children’s programmes over and over again and be resilient to faeces and projectile vomiting.
Ambitions and Plans for 2016
So, back to where I started this stream of consciousness I have to lose the 14lbs of extra weight I’ve somehow gained in the past 12 months.
Two musical events are already booked – Gilbert O’Sullivan at Cheltenham Town Hall in February and a family trip to see AC/DC at The Etihad Stadium in Manchester in June.
As far as writing goes, I’ll do my best to torment you with my ramblings every week. I’d also like to start writing some short stories – what I like to call ‘proper writing’. I was explaining this to somebody the other day.
“What would your stories be about?” they asked.
I riffled through the imaginary notes in my brain.
“Sex and Death,” I explained. They stared at me dumbly.
“Sex – and Death??” they asked tentatively, “Nothing else?”
“What else is there?” I mused…
Happy New Year.