There’s a new word to describe the no-man’s land between Christmas and New Year: Merryneum. The time of year when even more than usual, we don’t know what day of the week it is. And it still doesn’t matter really. Except when we miss Doctor Who because they showed it on a Friday, which is just bizarre.
It was much colder here in Northenden* and we took a break from our (not quite) daily strolls. *I know, it was colder everywhere, but Northenden is our universe for now.
Blue skies are always welcome of course, along with bright sunshine. The Sun’s low, just above the horizon, even at noon, this time of year. So sun-hats are no good, the brim will never be wide enough. I am now wearing my beanie hat, to keep my the ears warm.
Following all the recent rain, the river is really high. The weir is totally submerged, its location given away only by surface turbulence.
And what a shock to wake up one morning to the sight of snow. Yes, it was forecast, but it was still a surprise.
It soon melted, only to be replaced the following night. The clatter of the snowflakes pounding against the window disturbed my slumber.
I took some pictures and crawled back into my pit.
Martha and William built a superb Snowman and Snowdog way over there in Cheadle. Sorry we couldn’t help out on this occasion.
When William was asked why he’d put a glove on the side of the Snowdog, he pointed out that that’s what a Snowdog looks like. And, sure enough, Raymond Briggs’s Snowdog does have this embellishment.
I don’t know who built a snowman in our car park, but the next day, all that was left was his nose.
We did come across this little chap on one of our walks. If we’d known, we would have brought the discarded nose with us and performed a transplant.
We felt it was probably too slippery and muddy on the river banks, so we gave them a miss this week. (Translation: we are wimps.) Looking down from the bridge, that was a wise move, I think.
So, a pretty lazy week, really. Every noise outside is an invitation to look through the window. ‘What’s goin’ on?’ we ask, like some freak from EastEnders. Someone in the flats over the road received a delivery. When she answered the door:
Liesel: Is that the girl who goes out sunbathing sometimes?
Mick: I don’t know, I don’t recognise her with her clothes on.
What did we achieve this week? Well, Liesel completed her jigsaw puzzle, thank you Helen and Jenny.
As a special treat, we enjoyed our first Samosa Box. The food was delivered, still hot from the oven and the samosas were delicious. Support your local business!
Here are some statistics from 2020.
The good news is, I read more books this year than previously, thanks to the opportunity presented by lockdown. 41 books, 21 of which were by female writers. This is probably the first time I’ve read more books by women than by men, a conscious effort on my part. (2019: 33 books, 13 by women.)
On the other hand, I walked only 1530 miles in 2020 compared with 1748 in 2019, but we were on our Travels for half of that year. And, walking locally, it’s so easy to think, ‘oh that’ll do, I’m going home now’.
It was a funny old year, but I think we got by OK. We are looking forward to 2021. Happy New Year and thank you for joining Liesel and me on our antics. When will we see you again? Sometime soon, we hope. Why did that song come to mind this week? Because the temperature was Three Degrees.
Yes, we’re looking forward to the new year, but I can’t help but look back on decades past.
I always listen to Johnnie Walker’s Sounds of the 70s and last week’s episode was especially good. Johnnie’s wife Tiggy talked to him about his broadcasting career during the 1970s, and they played some of his favourite songs from that decade. Listen again here before it falls off BBC Sounds.
Out of the 16 tracks played, I’ve seen most of the artists either in concert or in passing.
1 Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
Liesel and I saw them at a reunion gig in Hyde Park, one of the first shows we saw together. Liesel was intimidated by the large crowd, she wasn’t used to that sort of thing. It was a great show, of course, all their songs are wonderful. But sadly, there was no chemistry between them, no eye-contact at all. The support act was The Everly Brothers.
In a previous life, I saw Simon and Garfunkel at Wembley Stadium, in about 1982, with Sarah and my sister Pauline and her then boyfriend John. Jobsworth Security Man wanted to take my camera away, no photos in those days. I followed him a short way to wherever he was leading, chose my moment, ran off, took off my jacket, and joined the others in the auditorium. My photos were of course rubbish. But the show was great.
2 Derek and the Dominos – Layla
Sarah and I saw Eric Clapton on the same bill as Elton John and Bonnie Raitt, at Wembley Stadium in 1992. The performance was good but maybe a bit subdued. It was a year after the tragic death of his 4-year old son Conor. He performed his very moving song Tears in Heaven, written in memory of Conor. We saw him again at Masters of Music in 1996.
3 Neil Diamond – I Am… I Said
4 The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
As part of Masters of Music for The Prince’s Trust, The Who performed Quadrophenia on a cold June day in Hyde Park in 1996. It was so cold, I bought myself an extra t-shirt to keep warm. I know. Sarah, me, Jenny and Helen were here for a full day of music. We also saw Alanis Morissette and Eric Clapton again. But it was so cold, we, along with many hundreds of other people, left as Bob Dylan took to the stage.
5 Lou Reed – Walk On The Wild Side
Sarah and I saw Lou Reed at Hammersmith Odeon around the time of his Magic and Loss album, March 1992. A great show but when on arrival, we saw him sitting at a bar, having a quiet drink, we were too
intimidated scared to walk up and say ‘Hello’.
6 The Steve Miller Band – The Joker
7 David Bowie – Life On Mars?
Sarah and I saw David Bowie five times in concert: Wembley Arena twice, Earls Court, Milton Keynes Bowl (with baby Jenny, 1983) and at the awful short-lived London Arena (with Jenny, 1990, and yes, she fell asleep again). We saw him again at the Freddie Mercury tribute concert at Wembley Stadium. But the only time I met him was outside the gallery hosting his art exhibition in 1995. He was coming out just as Sarah and I arrived. I shook his hand and thanked him for the music and asked for an autograph. ‘I’m gasping for a cuppa,’ he said, ‘I’ll be back in ten minutes’, he said, walking away with his assistant. Two hours is plenty of time to feign interest in wallpaper designs and other weird paintings. I’m still waiting for my man to return.
8 Cockney Rebel – Judy Teen
I saw Steve Harley, the lead singer, as a guest at a David Bowie Celebration in 2017. The band was put together by Mike Garson, Bowie’s long-time piano player, along with many other musicians who have played with Bowie. Steve Harley sang his own song Sebastian as well as a David Bowie song. I have a photo of the setlist. The woman was holding on to it really tightly, fearing I might run off with it.
9 John Lennon – Stand By Me
10 Bruce Springsteen – Born To Run
11 Elton John & Kiki Dee – Don’t Go Breaking My Heart
We saw Elton once with Eric Clapton (see above) and once before then at the Royal Festival Hall. The night before had been a Gala performance for a Royal personage which he must have found challenging, because he told us that tonight he could relax. The percussionist Ray Cooper stole the show.
Sarah and I also saw Kiki Dee at the Royal Albert Hall. She performed Don’t Go Breaking My Heart as a solo, despite the fact that from our lofty seats, we could see Elton lurking backstage. Good for him for not stealing the limelight.
12 The Eagles – The Last Resort
13 Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK
Definitely no, I’m not even going to say I was at the famous 100 Club gig with 20,000 other people who were there in the tiny 350 capacity, iconic venue.
14 The Undertones – Teenage Kicks
15 Patti Smith Group – Because The Night
I haven’t seen Patti Smith in concert, but I have had a deep and meaningless conversation with her. She curated the Meltdown Festival in London, 2005. As well as putting on several shows, she did some work with students from local schools. One lunchtime at the Royal Festival Hall, our paths crossed. I said ‘Hello’. She said ‘Hello’.
16 Jackson Browne – Running On Empty
Liesel and I are looking forward to more live shows later in the year, as I’ve said before. Until then, radio and online gigs will have to do!