I’ve just looked back at last Hogmanay and realised how my expectations have changed. Last year we were still thinking about holidays and outings. There have been some good times in 2021 but lots of quiet, uneventful weeks. Seeing family again and having regular contact has seemed very special after months apart. The year has passed quickly, with fewer markers. We did have two short campervan holidays and birthdays were celebrated. I really enjoyed Easter and Christmas with family.
My Wednesday chat group has been meeting online since April 2018, and weekly since lockdown began in March 2020, providing ‘mutual support and amusement’. We have gone beyond talking about meeting for lunch at some point and just enjoy our weekly contact. Similarly, having returned to live classes for some months now, we anticipate a return to Zoom Pilates and Dancefit for an indeterminate time.
We cancelled our planned London trip this week, happy that a virtual tour of the V&A Alice exhibition was available on Sky Arts. I thoroughly enjoyed the 1951 Disney version on DVD and we were enthralled by Anything Goes from the Barbican, a show we might have gone to see live. I no longer miss shopping trips, having found lots of interesting online sellers and look forward to parcels arriving. I have a new phone, a Samsung Z Flip, which enhances my online life. Using Facebook and Instagram to post stories has widened my virtual world.
I decided to do a three-card Tarot reading this time, looking at the Past, Present and Future. This was not rigged, honest. Just don’t take it too seriously. These are all metaphors.
Card One (The Past) DEATH
This is a challenging card. Death can mean change, leading to rebirh; the end of one phase and the beginning of another. Balzac said, ‘Death is certain. Let us forget it‘. We have been only too aware of death since Covid but the vaccines have helped make it less of a threat to most of us. Maybe we can put that fear into perspective. But political upheaval as well as climate change continues to challenge our way of life.
Card Two (The Present) THE DEVIL
This is a disturbing card, but, like all the Major Arcana, it challenges us to think about its meaning. The Devil is a conglomeration of human and animal parts. Like a bat, he can cause panic in a crowd, biting and spreading contagion. Nature has gone berserk. The Devil’s ambiguity invites us to make choices, to choose between courses of action. Covid has forced governments and individuals into choosing how to react. This is the present, an everchanging virus which may be with us for some time to come.
Card Three (The Future) STRENGTH
This is a positive and encouraging image. Strength is not a god or goddess, but a mortal woman. She has tamed a lion, and the serpent lying below it, ready for a new beginning. She is not afraid as she deals with a natural force which can be tamed. If we relate this to Covid, we trust scientists to mediate with the virus and its variants to bring it under control. We have come through difficult times and can face the future together.
Some good escapist telly watching: High Noon, Close to Me, Portrait Artist of the Year, And Just like That (not sure I can cope with the older versions of Carrie, Charlotte and Miranda). The Amazing Mr Blunden, Paddington 1 and 2, A Very British Scandal. The Abominable Snowbaby. Christmas included some fun presents: rainbow socks, rainbow bath bubbles, skull pattern tights. Cannyrob gave me a Bookily subscription – book tokens monthly for a year!!!! Just the right amount of Christmas lights. Lots of nice food. Jigsaw almost completed. Learned my three guitar songs . Listened to lots of classical Christmas music. Cannyrob and I got our Mancala game out last night. Once we’d remembered how to play, we had a couple of games. Realised we had an extra ‘gem’. It was a very old jelly bean.
As I still have my moonboot, walking is a bit limited but I have managed to get out and get some fresh air in our back garden. I’ve been cutting back the roses which came down with the archway during Storm Barra.
Early nights and afternoon naps are ideal audiobook opportunities and I have recently enjoyed The Bleeding Heart by Marilyn French and The Wideacre Trilogy by Phillipa Gregory. I haven’t read very much recently – two volumes of spooky fiction. Ghost Stories and other Horrid Tales selected and illustrated by Charles W. Stewart (Folio 1997) and Edith Wharton’s The Complete Supernatural Stories. I need to give up reading anything described as ‘a dark and unsettled psychological thriller’. The Bridesmaid by Nina Manning is one of those. A Perfect Stranger by Shalini Boland is was a better novel of the same genre. The Sphinx, the Life of Gladys Deacon, Duchess of Marlborough, by Hugo Vickers shows how the world of the rich and famous was never a happy place. Definite parallels with the Duchess of Argyll’s story.
I have picked up my family history research again, with a subscription to Ancestry and some reference books from the National Archives. I am looking again at my Aunt Winnie’s family in Ealing. Her middle name was Rosalie. I never knew. I have a number of leads to follow. I have some more family video recordings in MP4 format from my Sister. It is quite emotional to revisit family occasions, to see my children as they were decades ago. This all needs time to process.
Hogmanays of the past meant dressing up, late nights, friends round, too much alcohol. Tonight we have a glass of rosé and Netflix. Soon we will switch off the fairy lights and go to bed early. Thanks for being there through 2021. I love to get your messages, however you get in touch. If you are on Facebook or Instagram check out my stories and posts. Hoping to have two working legs by the time I write at the end of the month!
Happy New Year, with love, Elinor xx
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