Irresolute

Isn’t the title a glorious word?  It really ought to get out more!  Let’s face it, the world could use more irresolution as it seems to contain far too much unjustified certainty to be healthy.

However, I should probably resist the urge to turn GofaDM into a “Word of the Day” style production, so I better shoe-horn some more personal content into the word “Irresolute”.

I seem to remember that last year I exclusively revealed to GofaDM readers what I do to mark Christmas and the return to these shores of Winter Val (which I presume is another, more gender-inclusive, pseudonym for Santa, aka St Nick aka Father Christmas).  So, it seemed, if not appropriate then at least vaguely explicable, to use 2017 to cover my traditional activities as the New Year looms.

One thing I don’t do is make any Resolutions (title justified √).  This is part of a broader resistance to doing things when I’m supposed to and at the same time as everyone else.  This helps to foster my delusion that I am an exciting maverick and not just another faceless drone.  It helps explain my tendency to age-inappropriate dress and activities which could be blamed on my working through the mid-life crisis (but avoiding loose cars and fast women) were it not for the fact that I’ve failed to be age-appropriate since I was a child (or maybe I was just a very early developer or trying to avoid the rush?).

For many years, I largely ignored the year incrementing by one – except the feeling I should watch Big Ben bonging away (which lost some of its appeal when I was allowed to stay up until midnight whenever I wanted – which is much less often than a younger me would have expected).  I did once (many years ago) sample the delights of Trafalgar Square on New Year’s Eve which are almost entirely non-existent – you can’t even hear Big Ben despite its proximity – and so I never made that mistake again.

For the last several years (probably more than I would like to believe), I have spent New Year’s Eve (or NYE as it seems to be known, but which makes me think it has something to do with New York) with friends.  Either I go to their place for multiple courses of food and wine over the evening, or they join me in my tiny garret.  This year it was my turn to host and prepare a range of courses to see off 2016 in tasty style.

I don’t like to blow my own trumpet, frankly I lack the necessary flexibility, but I think it was best attempt at such end of year entertaining yet.  For the first time, I managed to limit my tendency to massively over-cater for the audience (three people) which led to both a more comfortable night’s sleep and far fewer left-overs for me to eat up over the opening days of 2017.  Take that my Hatton genes!

I also decided that my dinner party staples were becoming too safe and predictable (for me if no-one else) so I brought some new signings to the table.  These went rather well, but the star was definitely a sea bass recipe borrowed from Gary Rhodes which took a mere 3 minutes to cook – and not much more to prepare (the greatest effort involved segmenting two oranges, a task I foisted on one of my guests).  It was a reminder that one can eat well in a hurry, without having to rely on pricking a lid and recourse to millimetre-wave electromagnetic radiation.  Mr Rhodes also provided inspiration for a different (and labour-saving) New Year breakfast.  I would recommend his grilled ginger cake with mashed banana and natural yoghurt and not just for breakfast, it would go down very nicely for a late supper!

Background music was largely supplied by the marvel of Spotify and ranged widely: from Poulenc’s Gloria, via Sheila Steafel’s Twiddly Bits and Rowan Atkinson taking the register to Louis James Alfred Lefébure-Wély.  What a name!  And what a time in which we live, when so much of the world’s music (and fun) is available at the touch of a button!

The final triumph was accidently being ready for midnight at the same time that “the man” from Greenwich suggested midnight actually arrived.  I fear I shall never be able to match this performance again and may have to start a new tradition…

Failure creates so much less pressure than even modest success, I feel it is under-rated in the modern world (despite sterling work by Stephen Pile).  Still, perhaps with our government embracing failure so whole-heartedly and in some many spheres, my own modest lacks of success will be eclipsed.  I shall perhaps work to treat Kipling’s two imposters just the same over the year ahead (perilously close to a resolution).

Feeling my age

This is, of course, a very different proposition to acting my age.  I have largely avoided acting my age, and when I am called upon to portray an adult in a public setting then “acting” is very much the mot juste.  In this context, I am very much NOT a follower of Messrs Stanislavski and Strasberg – I go with the “just pretending” school.

One the whole, I do not feel my age – unless there has been a dreadful accounting error and I really am only 22 (or thereabouts).  Over the summer, a number of incidents illustrated the distance between my internal view of my age and actual chronology have been allowed to diverge over the years.  I have realised that when in the company of “proper” adults – generally, but not always, those of my age or greater – I feel rather like a child who has been allowed to stay up past his bedtime and as though I don’t really belong.    With those aged around 20 (±5), I feel as though I am among equals and act as though I am just one of the gang – which I presume they must find a little disconcerting (or just creepy), but probably endure as I’m quite good about buying the beer.  When availing myself of the cake at T H Roberts in Dolgellau, I felt far more at home with the very youthful staff then with the more stricken-in-years clientele – despite being much close in age to the latter.  I suspect there must be quite a backlog of updates to my self-image waiting to be installed in a cloud or buffer somewhere – and long may they remain there!

My pretence at continued youth is also being bolstered by my gymnastic exploits.  A little while ago I learned that one of the other clients of Brightside refers to me as “the gymnast” (as though this were my profession – which luckily, for my continued solvency, it is not) and today discovered that I am a major topic of conversation among their wider clientele (in my absence, fortunately).  It would appear that I am a marvel of the age (or at least, my age) – though to be honest, it is just practice and a bit of application on my part.  At the risk of frightening the horses (you will be seeing a lot of leg), here is a picture of me practising one of the progressions towards the elusive back lever.

Just hanging around

Just hanging around

The more perspicacious reader may have noted that my head seems very pink (née red).  In my defence, I would point out that I am upside-down and this is a hold – but I will admit that I do not recall seeing this same effect on real gymnasts.  Luckily, according to the Mortician’s Gazette, I see that some gymnastics is to be televised next week so I shall have an opportunity to check out the head-directed blood-flow of the participants.  I suppose it may be that hanging like a very distended bat is not a highly regarded activity in proper gymnastics…

So, why you may wonder should I be feeling my age?  Well, partly it comes down to hanging around with the young and recalling an incident from my adult past, only to discover it occurred before any of them were born.  This can really take the wind out of a chap’s sails.

However, the spark that ignited this post was going to see the film Pride a week or so back.  The film is excellent (if you haven’t seen it, you really should) and (mostly) set in 1984 – the year in which I took my A-levels and started university.  Yet, even to me it feels like a period piece and I was shocked to realise that I was basically an adult when it was set.  The vehicles, in particular, look to be from a bygone age.  It made my feel very old and to wonder if it is time for me to start buying Werther’s Originals, carpet slippers and a tartan rug.

NO!  I refuse to act my age!  I refuse to wear anything made of fleece!  I shall re-double my efforts to grow old disgracefully.  I feel in need of a new age-inappropriate hobby to take up (to add to the gymnastics).  What do people feel about seeing a man of 48½ on a skateboard?  (I promise to eschew the strangely sculpted facial hair and pony tail).  I’m also willing to entertain suggestions for other pursuits which would allow me to retain my juvenility – but, be warned, if I like the idea I may act upon it and you may later be exposed to photographic evidence thereof!