In keeping with tradition (by which I mean this is the fourth time I’ve done it), this is my don’t-know-what-to-say-I’ll-say-it-anyway Christmas post, which I am writing and posting on Christmas day itself. I have time to do this because, as has also become traditional, I am spending today on my own. Not because I am abandoned and forlorn, or because I have been left stranded and unable to travel by bad weather, or because I’m in a snit with family members. I’m spending the day alone because this is, genuinely, the way I prefer to spend Christmas, and my family are kind enough to lay off the emotional blackmail techniques to try and force me to attend. They think I’m weird, obviously, and occasionally panic and think they ought to insist harder that it really would be no trouble at all to put me up, but mainly just leave me to get on with it.
I have, anyway, been having a quiet, gently pleasurable day.
I slept late, and stayed in bed even later reading. Since I’ve been up, I’ve put out the rubbish, and watched HM QE2 deliver her little speech – not so much because I’m actually interested in what she has to say, or because I have respect for her beyond the generic respect I have for all little old ladies (who, in my experience, tend to be tough as old boots with wicked senses of humour), but because, well, it’s traditional, as an Igor might say. I thought the fact she delivered it all sitting down, and peppered her speech with references to people who are compelled by ill health to spend their time reflecting rather than doing, was a fairly obvious hint that she’s not feeling as spry as once she did. The heavy emphasis on continuity – there were pictures of five monarchs of either the past, present or future on the table at her side: her father, her, her son, her grandson, and her great-grandson – might also have been an attempt to remind us that the monarchy isn’t all about one lady in her late 80s.
I’ve also been out for my traditional Christmas stroll. Things were quieter this year than some, but that probably just reflects the fact that people are more inclined to stay indoors when it’s wet and windy than when it’s crisp and cold. I was amused to spot that, since I last walked along one particular road, a new shop has opened – a frozen yoghurt bar. I was amused because it had lots of signs in its windows saying things like ‘Cheer up – have a frozen yoghurt’ and ‘Celebrate with frozen yoghurt!’, which struck me as faintly desperate. Let’s just say I find it hard to imagine that frozen yoghurt – as opposed to, say, Ben & Jerry’s or Häagen-Dazs – has ever really been thought of as comfort food. And the likelihood of a formula 1 driver eschewing the champagne to spoon a fermented milk product over his colleagues strikes me as being slim…
Still, the opening of the shop does underline the way things keep changing. When I first moved into the area, that shop was an independent DVD rental place that gradually morphed into a net café as the DVD rental market began to collapse. Presumably the bottom also fell out of the net café once most people had a smartphone and pubs and ordinary cafés started offering free wifi. Certainly I used the net café once or twice, when I was having internet connectivity problems and needed to go online to look up solutions, but when the same thing happened to me again quite recently my immediate thought was to take my laptop into a local pub instead. In the end I didn’t have to do either; tech support were actually supportive, if you can imagine such a thing.
Mind you, the experience did remind me how difficult it is to look up a phone number when you can’t get online. In the end I had to look up a directory enquiries number in an old yellow pages, in order to phone up and ask for the number I actually needed. To think that’s what life used to be like all the time when I was 20! Sometimes, honestly, I feel as old as the queen…
Well, that’s about as long as I can write about nothing, I think, so I’ll go away, pausing only to wish anyone who reads this a happy Christmas. I hope you got to spend the day doing things you enjoy, with the right people (or absence of people) around you.
So, did you spot the musical reference? It’s right up there, in the first sentence. Still nothing? Well, ok, I’ll take pity on you. ‘Don’t know what to say/ I’ll say it anyway’ is a quote from the lyrics of the song ‘Take On Me’. Yes, the song by A-Ha. Or, if you’re a real connoisseur of naff pop, A1.
There now, wasn’t that amazing! They can hardly sing a note (apart from the one with the red spiky hair, who really can’t sing a note, judging by the amount of Autotune). And the video, with it’s quaint year-2000 idea of high tech (an external CD drive!), and its inability to decide whether it’s trying to look like Tron or The Matrix is pretty spectacular, too.*
* – If you like virtual reality pop videos, by the way, you should check out – how did you know I was going to mention them? – Pet Shop Boys’ videos for the singles from Very. Starting with ‘Can You Forgive Her?’, which has one or two elements of VR, and gradually adds more through ‘Go West’ and ‘I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing’, before ending up with ‘Liberation’, which is completely computer generated (and very beautiful, too).