Is it the 5th or 6th of January, Epiphany Eve or Epiphany Day? The celebration of baby Jesus as God incarnate with his visit from the Magi Kings and his revelation to the world. I’m stopping there before I get bogged down in a subject I know little of and which may be solely symbolic after all.
We were always taught as children that it was unlucky to take down the Christmas decorations, mostly Pagan in origin, before the 12th night and even worse to leave them after that. It depends on where you start counting the twelve days from. I’m playing it safe and going for today the 5th of January.
Anyhow, I hope you have all enjoyed the festivities and are looking forward to a bright New Year. Things haven’t gone to plan in my family, but more of that later.
I’m off up the fell to retrieve my Angel added to the Xmas decorated tree up there, in line with the twelfth night. It’s not the best of days. mirky and damp. Gone are the sparkling conditions of that arctic period before Xmas – welcome back to the glorious mud. Somebody else , presumably the tree’s original decorator, keeping to tradition, has cleared the baubles and tinsel I’m pleased to see. The Angel has flown.
I might as well go up to the trig point whilst I am here, another kind of celebration, this time the lure of hill tops. Not being overly obsessive about every hillock and rocky lump in our land I will happily bypass a top if the going is easier around it. But my nearest and dearest trig point is only a few minutes walk away.
An otherwise phantom fell pony is present in the flesh today, I don’t know where they go to at other times. Sometimes there are four or five milling around the summit and then none seen for days. This beast is kicking up quite a fuss, maybe because he has strayed to the wrong side of the wall. The last stile before the summit has taken a severe mauling in recent days. The culprit is unapologetic. This sets me thinking about The Hungry Horse chain of cheap family eateries, you know the thing “Kids eat for a pound” whilst the parents get p*****. Some of their meat is tougher than the woodwork of the stile. I hope I’m not opening myself to libel here – it’s a joke honest.
At the summit I meet a friendly couple, with dogs at heel of course. We pass the time of day with shared experiences of walking our treasured local landscape. At some stage in the conversation I have to apologise for the state of my face. This is the first time I’ve been out in nearly a week since I knocked myself unconscious in a fall outside my back door. I have no recollection of what happened, maybe I was going out to feed the birds or visit the dustbin. I woke up on the concrete, I’d missed the stars if there were any. Did I slip or did I have a ‘dizzy spell’? I’ve no idea, there was no alcohol involved as it was well before teatime. Dragging myself indoors I tentatively assessed the damage – a very sore right side of my skull and face, I’d obviously hit the concrete hard. It was only when I tried to pour a coffee that I realised I had lost my binocular vision. I had a shock looking in the mirror at the state of my right eye, Mike Tyson came to mind. No casualty visit for me thank you, I will do my own head injury monitoring. Not exactly the best policy but I suspect that they might have kept me in the hospital if they had been able to find me a bed. Third World health care demands some self-reliance. By today there are only purple patches on my cheek and a blood shot eye, but enough to frighten the children.
This all comes in the midst of that burst pipe incident I may have mentioned in my last post, the cancellation of our family Christmas due to members’ covid infections, a disruption to my gas supply due to a failure of the ‘smart’ meter and an obvious cancellation of any New Year’s get together. I couldn’t see out of my eye for three days. All is well now apart from the head aches and an inability to chew due to the jaw pain.
The gas problem took some sorting. We all, of a certain age, grumble about modern technology and the convoluted call centres. I spent five hours phoning British Gas on Monday to try and report the problem, I was not in the best of spirits due to the head injury. ‘The current queuing time is 75 minutes‘ was the initial response. Then that person put me through to another department – ‘The current queuing time is 45 minutes, we suggest you use our internet chat room‘ And so on, all accompanied by some weird electronic music. If they played Bob Dylan I would be happy to hang on along with my valued custom, but that would be being too selective. Thinking about it nowadays with all the clever Apps, Logarithms and stored personal data they should be able to come up with Duquesne Whistle just to keep me sweet. After several trips around India I arrived back where I started just as they were closing for the day. My head ached a lot more than it had done a few hours earlier.
The next morning, after a cold miserable night, I dreaded staring again. But maybe the latest phone number was more direct and within 10 minutes I was through to a girl from Essex, suffering from a bad cold, who cottoned on to my problem straight away, OK I did mention I was a vulnerable old man alone in a cold house with no hot water or heating. An emergency appointment with a gas engineer was arranged for that morning, and she phoned back later to see if all had gone well. Perfect customer care. No more jokes about Essex girls please. Why couldn’t it have been that simple the day before, let’s get used to the Third World.
I’ve now a new meter, hot water and heating – all is cosy and rosy for the New Year. until maybe something else creeps up on me unexpectedly.
I ended up doing my usual three-mile figure of eight loop.
But best of all I think the fresh air has cleared my head.