Why is it so bloody dark!?! Ahem. Godzilla blotting out the light perhaps. In swapping my usual Australian Christmas by the pool for a few months back in Wales, I’m rediscovering Britain. They’re a fun people! I like the quirkiness of electing a randy chimp to run the country, it’s so zany! It’s like a war against cogent sentences.
But I am enjoying myself, spending time with family, which considering the world at large, am pretty pleased with (as they bicker in the background, and I reach for my headphones like I’m fifteen again). Since this is the first Christmas I’ve spent in the UK in roughly fifteen years, I’ve tried approaching the place with a fresh perspective. Here are a few notes:
I shall continue to take notes of this peculiar species whist I’m here, although I’ll have to lift my head from books for that. Am just clocking over sixty books for the year, but stuck on Wiser for a while, exploring the scientific roots of wisdom, compassion, and what makes us good. A lovely book to take into 2022, I feel. I also got into some classics like Sense and Sensibility, Jane Eyre, Theresa Raquin, and childhood favourites like Anne of Green Gables and Charlotte’s Web, all pretty wonderful. Although the last few months have been a blur, there has been plenty of good bits. I was pleased to get out on the motorcycle a little before I finally sold it, and my fitness and weight have improved too. I had minor surgery which I’d been putting off, and although I still haven’t finished my uncle’s audiobook (two chapters to go), and I haven’t progressed in writing my third book (on leadership) whatsoever in the last few months, I am very happy and grateful with my lot. I am enjoying being home, spending time with friends and family. You never know how much you miss people until you can’t see them. Oddly here the conversation is less ‘oh my, hope I don’t catch COVID’ and more ‘well, when I first caught it . . .’ A different world to what we’ve been used to in Australia where Western Australia, a state the size of UK, France, Germany, Spain, Poland, Belarus and Italy put together, enters a four-day lockdown because of three cases. Yup, three. It's not all sunshine and cricket :-)
As ever, thanks for your love, friendship and support in 2021, it’s been entirely my pleasure. I hope to see many of you in 2022, all my love, Richard xx
Well, that was weird. Not Jeff Bezos weird, or giant cock in space weird – tautology? - but, you know, up there. Like a particularly racy lamb buna, the last few months need time to settle. In mid-September, I was given three pieces of news simultaneously: a gap opened up for surgery on a bone spur with a 6 week recovery; the bank was repossessing the flat as the landlord stopped paying their mortgage, leaving 8 weeks to vacate; and after my requests to leave Australia had been rejected twice, I was given exemption, and had 10 weeks to fu*k right off. And in the last two weeks, add a new COVID variant, changing rules for different countries, a missed flight, forking out for another flight, paying for a hotel in Doha I never got to stay in . . . it’s been . . . interesting.
There is an element of PTSD. In Melbourne we were graced with 267 days of lockdown since March 2020, the longest period in the world. I spent the majority of that living alone. Being amongst people now is just . . . weird. Don’t get me started on the jitters of being on packed flights, screaming at flight attendants “that guy coughed/went to cough/cleared his throat/looks like he might cough at some point, jettison him NOW!!” Twenty-three hours of flying later, am sure everyone was very appreciative of my vigilance.
Getting people together for a farewell felt odd too, let alone technically hard as everyone was scrambling to leave Melbourne (hmm . . . coincidence?) after finally obtaining their freedom. And if I caught COVID, then I couldn’t travel at all. So, like my 40th and 41st birthday parties, a farewell will have to wait. As for those wonderful people in my life that reached out asking why I was selling everything and whether they could help with storing or moving stuff, I will love you forever.
What now? Meeting friends in London, it’s a different world. The conversation isn’t about avoiding COVID, but what it was like when you had it. Australians would freak! Meanwhile, I’ll enjoy a Welsh winter with my family, working Australian hours (10pm-6am, yeah, I didn’t stop working) and trying to get any exercise I can in between whatever daylight, non-rainy hours there are. There ain’t many!
Plans for next year? Still, plenty of time to run for 2021, I’ll plan 2022 when I reach it. For those school-friends still in Wales, please say hi, would be lovely to catch up xx
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