Great expectations

Christmas is a strange time for the individual individual. Ignoring the tedious ‘is christmas over-commercialised’ and ‘where’s the christ in christmas’ drivel that will populate the papers until they switch to ‘my new year’s resolutions’ and ‘hangover cures’ and … (more on those later, perhaps), the relentless drivel about family and togetherness is almost designed to make those of us who have no-one in particular, or perhaps no-one in particular who happens to be available, feel all the more freakish.

Poussin for one, anyone?

Me? I’ve never much liked the season, so in many ways it’s convenient that I have no family within easy striking distance. That way I can concoct quite legitimate reasons why I can’t possibly attend their celebrations. Instead, I find myself in the pub. A pub rather randomly stuffed full of children … shurely shome mishtake? Hopefully chitty chity bang bang will doubtless be on tv later, so I can revel in the childcatcher’s malevolent dance (the same actor, randomly enough, who played the publican in the Wicker Man. Hmm).

A few years ago I found myself, randomly enough, sitting behind the sound desk at the Peacock Theatre, watching the Snowman. Well, I suppose I was the sound engineer, so it was fair enough. Now, the place was, quite reasonably, stuffed with parents (mainly mothers) surrounded, or perhaps mobbed, by great gaggles of children, all too excited (as I type a tantrum is occurring in the pub). Every performance (and we put the show on 13 times a week, so this was a lot …), some kid or other, while waiting for the curtain to go up, would find the excitement simply too much to bear … and promptly vomit all over the floor/their seat/their mother/their sibling. Screaming, they’d be dragged out of the theatre, only for the story to be dragged out every subsequent christmas. ‘Do you remember the time we took you to see The Snowman and you threw up everywhere and we had to take you home?’ Now that’s a christmas tradition … six months of anticipation leading to all of the vomit, none of the fun.

Now, when it comes to anticipation, nothing quite beats the anticipation of something really shitty. Something you truly don’t want. Something that creeps up on you unawares. It’s behind you! No. No, it isn’t. It’s in front.

The more one fights, the worse it gets. My refusal to accept, or perhaps adapt, to the strictures of my future life (why are so many people in this pub walking with sticks?) sometimes seems like the the best way to deal with things, sometimes the worst. Roll with it.

It is the best of ways, the worst of ways.

Oh shit. I’m about to resolve. Forgive me.

I spent last year vigorously chasing my own tail, so desperate not to lose one moment’s precious experience that I calmly gave away, or perhaps let slip, great big gobbets of the future. I unwittingly overstretched myself, borrowing against my future, trading potential and possibility for performance. I know have an opportunity to learn from this, my error. Will I grab it with both hands, or keep one behind my back, fingers crossed?

Time alone will tell. Whether this is to be the best or the worst of times is largely in my gift. And certainly this is no time to let the tale wag the dog.

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