…you attend the first Christmas concert.
When you wince and smile and weep all at the same time from the squeeky naive solemnity of it all- that somehow oils the soul.
I was out at the Innellan Cricket Club Annual dinner the other night. A posh meal- an all male affair, with lots of long well libated speeches, lots of belly laughs and shameless in-jokes. It was a strangely alien environment for me.
Many of the people there were former members of the club (or associate members) and so there was a palpable sense of shared history. Matches narrowly won, or almost lost. Catches taken and dropped. Friends now no longer with us.
And of course, drunken cricket tours where men can once again be boys.
It was all good fun.
William was not there, but he was awarded the ‘most improved cricketer’ cup. Never was there a prouder boy (or father.)
We are back after a lovely few days in St Andrews- the sun shone and it was great to spend time together and to visit somewhere new.
Beach cricket (ours and watching a beach fixture played on Elie Beach.)
All those lovely little villages.
Sailing with Em and Will.
Slow days of sunshine and easy laughter.
Too much good food.
What a lovely weekend.
Yesterday I spent a long day in the garden with my boy William installing a shed in the garden. It was kind of his birthday present- he was desperate for a tree house, but none of our trees are ideal, and I was rather fearful that one of his friends would end up in hospital as a result. So the compromise was a small shed, installed in a corner of garden all his own…
Of course, this involved a load of work- ripping out enough ivy for a hundred Christmases, building a level platform (our garden is rather like the north face of the Eiger, minus the snow) and then the usual hammering and screwing and cursing that accompany any shed erection. (And if you read any rudeness into that last sentence- then it is YOUR mind, not mine!)
Here he is, with freshly installed (purple!) wall to wall carpet. If you should call round you are sure to be invited in- please remember to leave shoes outside…
Today, by way of contrast, I took my lovely daughter Emily to a wedding over the water, where she had been booked to play fiddle (with me as accompanist on guitar.) I was so proud of her, and we had a lovely day out together. The wedding was the daughter of Simon and Helen, our friends from Dunoon, so it was great too to see them all so happy.
Now, back home, well fed, watching the light fade over the Clyde, I am a man blessed. And for a melancholic, it does not get much better than that.
William is 11 today!
We have just done the party. All the mess is cleaned away. Peace descends- apart from Emily playing some dreadful dancing game on Wii in the next room. After a long day (much of it in a small room with the suits trying to decide what services to cut) I am ready for some peace.
But Will had a great time so it is all good. This year he had a ‘Detective Party’ with fancy dress and games like ‘pin the magnifying glass on the detective’.
And as ever- when kids are happy, parents have a special feeling somewhere deep inside. I think it is related to love.
We had a lovely day yesterday- on the whole.
We were up and away on the 7 AM ferry because Michaela, Emily and Danielle participated in the Race For Life which took place on Glasgow Green- a 5K run/walk in aid of cancer research. Michaela walked- taking around 40-50 mins, Emily and Danielle ran and took around 25 mins. Well done!
It was a bitter sweet moment- as everyone running had the names of people on their backs- survivors and sufferers of cancer, and people no longer with us. We remembered most Michaela’s step father Robert whose died just over a year ago.
Unfortunately, whilst standing around and NOT running, my back suddenly went into spasm. It may have been some kind of empathetic response to all these thousands of exercising women, or it could have been associated with a hard day of DIY the day before.
I managed to hobble back to the car and take a handful of pain killers, but our next destination was Edinburgh, where Will and I were due to play a cricket match against a Royal Botanical Gardens Cricket Club side- an old fixture between our clubs, competing for our own little ‘Ashes’ urn.
When we arrived I could not get out the car- but I then did manage to free up a little- and being the first match of the season that has not been rained off, I was really keen to play, so out I went. Movement helped, and I managed to send down a few overs of arthritic wrist spin- 4 overs, no wickets for 12 runs. Beat the bat a few times, took an edge that was missed.
On the whole we got tonked- they rattled up 176 off 40 overs.
I went in to bat at number 4 with 40 odd to our score- not looking good. I blocked out the pace man whose tail was up and then took guard against a spinner, eyeing up a short boundary. I let the first one go by, but then had a go at the second- a bit of a stiff-back swing at one that kept low and under edged on to the stumps. Out. Blast.
William went in at number 6- and fared rather better! He looked very small- the youngest player by far. Campbell was batting well at the other end, and had a chat between each over- instructing Will to block out the bowlers- which he did, for around 5 overs- finishing with one run, but a whole lot of respect from the opposition! Even if he did put his Dad to shame.
We lost by the way- making around 120 all out.
Finally, we met my brother Steve, his wife Kate and wee Jamie and went for a meal- before catching the last ferry (midnight) home.
This morning we all slept in- kids late for school. I can barely move, so my plan to go walking with Simon is done for. But it was a good day. Full of good people.
Well, Christmas is past for another year.
We have had a lovely time- we had an extra house guest as a friend had a burst pipe on Christmas eve.
Finally the hold of ice and snow has been loosened- it is raining at the moment, revealing slowly retreating treacherous sheets of wet ice.
Not a day to venture far from the fireside.
So as is my tradition, I think it is time for some bad cracker-type jokes (thanks Isobel for the raw material!)
Firstly for the numbers people-
Apparently the fattest knight at King Arthur’s round table was the very well fed Sir Cumference. He acquired his size from consuming too much pi.
Next, for the geographers-
I thought I saw an eye doctor on an Alaskan island, but it turned out to be
an optical Aleutian
Now for the hardened drinkers-
She was only a whiskey maker, but he loved her still.
And the non-believers-
Atheism- the non-prophet organization.
For the sporty types-
He wondered why the ball just kept getting bigger. Then it hit him.
And my fellow poets-
Did you hear about the backward poet? He writes inverse.
For the engineers-
Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says ‘Dam!’
For the long in the tooth-
Did you hear about the Sadistic Buddhist Dentist? His goal: to transcend dental medication.
And finally- for my fellow canoeists-
Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly so they lit a fire in the craft.
Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can’t have your kayak and heat it.
(Perhaps I should get out more- despite the ice.)