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'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS...


An intense week or so due to balancing Christmas preparations with more mundane duties, including a couple of medical appointments.

I was required to attend an NHS Podiatrist's clinic to start a series of treatments for my feet, which are suffering problems, partly due to my diabetes condition.

The second appointment was with a doctor to discuss my high blood pressure and I have now been prescribed tablets to try and reduce this. Once I've allowed 10 days for the tablets to take effect I have to do another week of self-diagnosed blood pressure checks, noting the twice daily levels on a form, and then return to the doctor to discuss the results. He will then decide if the dosage is adequate or if I need to take a higher one.

Such are the travails of being on the cusp of 70 years old it seems. But how come I don't feel much more than 30 years old mentally? I'm buggered if I know...

Emiko has been very busy fulfilling Christmas flower arrangement orders, plus orders for Christmas door wreaths and also teaching a wreath making class. Always a busy time of year for her, which throws all the more traditional preparations on my shoulders.

The Christmas card list seems to grow each year but, somehow, I always leave it to the last minute and then scamble to remember everyone and get the cards written and into the post. Other overseas cards tend to be sent as email 'virtual' greetings these days though...

Gift buying also takes time...I somehow agonise over the right sort of gift for the right sort of person. I'm sure I don't always get it right but at least the intention is sincere.

But it's now the 'night before the night before Christmas' and I'm checking that everything is in place for our family get together to be a happy and memorable one.

We're bringing my Mum over on Christmas Day, to enjoy the traditional Turkey dinner with us, (she will be 90 next year,) and my youngest daughter Elle and son Elliot are coming over on Boxing Day with their respective partners.

I've only tonight fixed the Christmas cards we've been sent up on the beams in our living room...so nice to get those from old friends going back several years, particularly from my Art School chum Ian Haigh and his partner Anne, from Susan Quinn, (the wife of my late and much missed friend Alan,) from my eldest daughter Julia and grandson Luke, from my dear friends Kate St John and Roger Eno, from my old co-producer John Leckie, from my now retired manager Richard Chadwick and, oh, so many others who have played an important part in my life over the years. I treasure them all.

Workwise, I haven't achieved an awful lot these last few weeks due to the demands of the season and the vagaries of my recording studio, (which still presents me with technical problems.) However, I have managed, (with some difficulty,) to complete a couple of new tracks. These are titled: 'HOUSE OF MYSTERY,' 'THIS AND THAT,' and 'THIS TOWN FEELS LIKE ANOTHER PLANET.' These will, hopefully, find their way onto a future album release, (though I haven't found a title/concept to accomodate them as yet.)

I've had an idea for an album titled 'I AM HERE AND YOU CAN HEAR ME,' which could possibly work as a compilation of some of my favourite tracks from the last few years whilst trying to avoid the compilation that appears on the three volumes of Bandcamp digital download retrospectives. Then again, it might suit an album of completely new material.

This time of year brings some warmly nostalgic, yet rather melancholic, thoughts. I've probably mentioned these before in this diary/journal but the foggy, swirling mists of time dissolve to reveal long-ago childhood wonders and innocence. The sweet and unashamed foundations of my desire to bring something of that time into the harsh climate we find ourselvers in today.

My younger brother, Ian, (who passed away almost 12 years ago now,) and I shared some very poignant memories of Christmas together. Those Christmases, in the late 1950s, were uncorrupted by the kind of 'knowing' that childeren have today. We were naive and innocent, in a way which would be now thought of as embarrassingly 'uncool,' yet the memory of those times burns bright and warm and meaningful.

I remember he and I sharing a bed on Christmas Eve and me reading to him from a book which contained the story of 'Peter And Pam's Christmas,' beautifully illustrated by an artist that, to this day, sadly, I have no idea of who he was.

Ian and I would become so excited by the story and what it promised for Christmas morning and, even though I suspected that Santa Claus was really just mum and dad, I never revealed my suspicions to Ian who still held on to that magical idea of a white-bearded old man with a jolly laughing face coming down the chimney with the gift of toys.

My father, (who worked as the manager of 'Broughton And Son's' shop in Hunslet, Leeds,) always made a great effort to create a magical Christmas Day morning for us.

The shop sold, amongst other things (such as radios and televisions,) a selection of Dinky Toys, Meccano construction kits and Hornby 'Dublo-O' Train sets, which always found their way onto the lavish, (as I remember it,) display laid out on our living room floor on Christmas morning.

Ian and I would wake early in much excitement and await our parent's permission to go and see what 'Santa' had brought us...and it always was wonderful.

Not only Dinky Toys, Hornby trains and Meccano sets but Dan Dare ray guns, Roy Rogers cowboy outfits, magnetic Driving Test games, Magic Robot Quiz games, Eagle, Dandy, Beano, Beezer and Topper annuals, sweets and chocolates and a host of other goodies. These things would keep my brother and I occupied throughout the day whilst we had visits from relatives, my grandma, sometimes my aunt and uncle or neighbours.

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And somehow, though I now know it's not really accurate, those childhood Christmases always seemed blessed by snow. There was certainly snow at times, though whether prior to, or after the Christmas festivities I'm not sure. But I can vividly recall building snowmen and, one time, an actual Igloo in the front garden of our house at 28, Conistone Crerscent on Eastmoor Estate, an Igloo which was built and shared in collaboration with our upstairs neighbour's daughter (and childhood friend,) Bronwyn Jackson, who was just a little bit older than myself. She was someone I had a very warm friendship with, back in those long ago 1950s childhood days.

Now? All gone, nothing but flickering, fading memories. Distant, sweet moments lost in time, once fresh and minty but now little more than a faint taste of snow, evaporating, dissolving, vanishing into the empty sky. Just one more, perhaps meaningless, dot of existence in the infinite universe of human interactions.

My mark is, nevertheless, here made, though it probably, inevitably, amounts to nothing. But I make it, in defiance of everything...






© Bill Nelson 2020

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